Clement Attlee

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At the 1922 general election, Attlee became the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Limehouse in Stepney. He helped Ramsay MacDonald, whom at the time he admired, get elected as Labour Party leader at the 1922 Labour leadership election, a decision which he later regretted.[3] He served as Ramsay MacDonald's parliamentary private secretary for the brief 1922 parliament.

His first taste of ministerial office came in 1924, when he served as Under-Secretary of State for War in the short-lived first Labour government, led by MacDonald.[3]

Attlee opposed the 1926 General Strike, believing that strike action should not be used as a political weapon. However, when it happened he did not attempt to undermine it. At the time of the strike he was chairman of the Stepney Borough Electricity Committee. He negotiated a deal with the Electrical Trade Union that they would continue to supply power to hospitals, but would end supplies to factories. One firm, Scammell and Nephew Ltd, took a civil action against Attlee and the other Labour members of the committee (although not against the Conservative members who had also supported this). The court found against Attlee and his fellow councillors and they were ordered to pay £300 damages. The decision was later reversed on appeal, but the financial problems caused by the episode almost forced Attlee out of politics.[3]

In 1927 he was appointed a member of the multi-party Simon Commission, a Royal Commission set up to examine the possibility of granting self-rule to India. As a result of the time he needed to devote to the commission, and contrary to a promise made to Attlee by MacDonald to induce him to serve on the commission, he was not initially offered a ministerial post in the Second Labour Government.[3] However, his unsought service on the Commission was to equip Attlee (who was later to have to decide the future of India as Prime Minister) with a thorough exposure to India and many of its political leaders.

In 1930, Labour MP Oswald Mosley left the party after its rejection of his proposals for solving the unemployment problem. Attlee was given Mosley's post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He was Postmaster-General at the time of the 1931 crisis, during which most of the party's leaders lost their seats. During the course of the second Labour government, Attlee had become increasingly disillusioned by Ramsay MacDonald, whom he came to regard as vain and incompetent, and later wrote scathingly of him in his autobiography.[3][5]

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