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"Honest" Aftlee Is Britain's New Prime Minister

MODEST, unobtrusive and painstaking, Clement Richard Attlee, Britain's new Prime Minister, has been called the "The honest broker," "the good man who came to the aid of his party." He has faith and fine qualities, but he has not the fire and great self-confidence of his predecessor, Winston Churchill. Puffing at his pipe, he puts sound points well and is an ideal chairman of committees. At Cabinet meetings under Mr. Churchill it was noticed that he always sat forward on the edge of his chair—a trick typical of the man. It was the sign of his diffidence, and a modesty almost unique in high politics. Born in 1883, the son of a comfortable middle-class family, he received a conventional education at Haileybury and University College, Oxford. In those days he was a Conservative, but one by upbringing rather than by choice. He had not given much thought to politics. Then he turned to the Left and became a Fabian Socialist. He became secretary of Toynbee Hall, designed for the express purpose of luring the young Attlees of the time from Oxford to Whitechapel. It was the first university settlement in the London slums where Oxford undergraduates could spend their holidays "to see how the poor lived." Fought on Gallipoli When war came he joined the Inns of Court O.T.C. and subsequently saw service at Gallipoli. He commanded a covering party at Suvla, was severely wounded at the attempted relief of Kut, and fought again n France, spending Armistice Day in hospital. After the war he was Mayor of Stepney, a Poor-law guardian, and a member of the Metropolitan Asylums Board. He entered Parliament as member for Stepney in 1922, and acted as private secretary to Mr. Ramsay Mac Donald. He was Undersecretary for War in the first Labour Government and was appointed to the Indian Statutory Commission of 1927. He was also Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1930-31.

In the Labour party crisis of 1931 Clement Attlee proved his mettle as a Socialist. He "stayed out" with Arthur Henderson and others. To him the wilderness was preferable to the high places filled by Ramsay Mac Donald and J. H. Thomas. To him it was no surprise that at the next general election the party was decimated. Yet from that defeat emerged his opportunity, and he was made deputy-leader of the Parliamentary party, and then in 1935, on Lansbury's resignation, acting-leader. When the party was offered the choice of Herbert Morrison, Arthur Greenwood or Attlee, it chose Attlee, the known quantity, the man they knew would be a true party man and not a doctrinaire. In War—a Co-ordinator When Mr. Churchill formed his National Government in 1940, Mr. Attlee, as leader of the Labour party, became Deputy-Prime Minister and Lord President of the Council. While Winston Churchill was industriously waging war Clement Attlee was industriously keeping the peace behind the lines—the co-ordinator who got things done without fuss. It was Mr. Attlee who in 1941 announced the famous Atlantic Charter.

Now, at the age of 62, Clement Attlee is Prime Minister of Great Britain—not a great personality, orator, debater or rhetorician like Churchill, but a plain-spoken man— the man who speaks for the majority of the British electorate.

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Bibliographic details

"Honest" Aftlee Is Britain's New Prime Minister, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 176, 27 July 1945

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"Honest" Aftlee Is Britain's New Prime Minister Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 176, 27 July 1945

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