Clement Attlee, son of Druces partner Henry Attlee, begins his Prime Ministerial reign on July 26 1945.
Clement Attlee wins the leadership of the Labour Party on October 25 1935 and serves for more than 20 years until November 25 1955. The first Labour Prime Minister to serve a full five-year term, Attlee remains the longest-serving leader of the party to this day.
A trained barrister, Attlee is the first person to hold the position of Deputy Prime Minister, serving under Winston Churchill in the UK’s wartime coalition government. The two men work well together upon Attlee’s appointment in 1942; and with Churchill focusing the vast majority of his attention on war efforts and military/foreign policy more generally, the Deputy PM performs organisational duties around Westminster, ensuring the smooth running of non-military parliamentary activities.
In 1945, shortly after World War II ends, Attlee leads Labour to a landslide election victory, taking the Prime Ministerial office and forming the first post-war government on July 26 1945. He serves for five years to October 26 1951.
On taking office, Attlee sets about the task of nationalisation across a number of industries. He also prioritises the establishment of a nationwide health service, alongside other social welfare reforms. The implementation of these items is based on an agenda set out in the Beveridge Report, which is published during the war in November 1942. The report identifies five ‘giant evils’ present in society: idleness, ignorance, disease, squalor and want. The report is well-received by the public, and Attlee’s post-war Welfare State reforms mark a revolution in UK social policy.
Attlee also plays a pivotal role in opposing Russia’s Josef Stalin in the Cold War, on top of encouraging supportive action from the US against Soviet Communism.
Widely regarded as one of the nation’s greatest ever leaders, Attlee’s assured demeanour and pragmatic approach to policy-making is lauded to this day.