Aneurin Bevan
Overview
 
Aneurin "Nye" Bevan was a British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 who was the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1959 until his death in 1960. The son of a coal miner, Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

 and the rights of working people. He was a long-time Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (MP), representing Ebbw Vale for 31 years, and became recognised as one of the leaders of the party’s left wing, and of left-wing British thought generally.
Quotations

The Labour Party should oppose the Government arms plan root and branch.

Tribune, 19 February 1937.

What argument have they to persuade the young men to fight except merely in another squalid attempt to defend themselves against a redistribution of the international swag?

Hansard, House of Commons 5th series, vol. 346, col. 2139.

Apparently some fire-eaters to-day have been saying "Never again must we allow ourselves to get into the same condition of military unprepardness, so we are going to build up a vast war machine in this country in order to surround defeated Germany with a sea of peaceful tranquillity..." It looks as though the consequences of defeat will be more desirable than those of victory.

Hansard, House of Commons 5th series, vol. 402, col. 1559.

This island is made mainly of coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organizing genius could produce a shortage of coal and fish at the same time.

Daily Herald, 25 May 1945

The language of priorities is the religion of socialism.

Labour Party Conference, Blackpool 1949

There is only one hope for mankind — and that is democratic Socialism.

Hansard, House of Commons, 5th series, vol. 487, col. 43.

Encyclopedia
Aneurin "Nye" Bevan was a British
British people
The British are citizens of the United Kingdom, of the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands, or of any of the British overseas territories, and their descendants...

 Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 who was the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1959 until his death in 1960. The son of a coal miner, Bevan was a lifelong champion of social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

 and the rights of working people. He was a long-time Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 (MP), representing Ebbw Vale for 31 years, and became recognised as one of the leaders of the party’s left wing, and of left-wing British thought generally. His most famous accomplishment came when, as Minister of Health
Secretary of State for Health
Secretary of State for Health is a UK cabinet position responsible for the Department of Health.The first Boards of Health were created by Orders in Council dated 21 June, 14 November, and 21 November 1831. In 1848 a General Board of Health was created with the First Commissioner of Woods and...

 in the post-war Attlee government, he spearheaded the establishment of the National Health Service
National Health Service
The National Health Service is the shared name of three of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom. They provide a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use to residents of the United Kingdom...

, which provides medical care free at point-of-need to all Britons.

Youth

Bevan was born in Tredegar
Tredegar
Tredegar is a town situated on the Sirhowy River in the county borough of Blaenau Gwent, in south-east Wales. Located within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire, it became an early centre of the Industrial Revolution in South Wales...

, Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire (historic)
Monmouthshire , also known as the County of Monmouth , is one of thirteen ancient counties of Wales and a former administrative county....

, in the South Wales Valleys
South Wales Valleys
The South Wales Valleys are a number of industrialised valleys in South Wales, stretching from eastern Carmarthenshire in the west to western Monmouthshire in the east and from the Heads of the Valleys in the north to the lower-lying, pastoral country of the Vale of Glamorgan and the coastal plain...

 and on the northern edge of the South Wales coalfield
South Wales Coalfield
The South Wales Coalfield is a large region of south Wales that is rich with coal deposits, especially the South Wales Valleys.-The coalfield area:...

, the son of miner
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 David Bevan and Phoebe née Prothero, a seamstress. Both Bevan's parents were Nonconformists; his father was a Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

 and his mother a Methodist. One of ten children, Bevan did poorly at school and his academic performance was so bad that his headmaster made him repeat a year. At age 13, Bevan left school and began working in the local Tytryst Colliery. David Bevan had been a supporter of the Liberal Party
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 in his youth, but was converted to socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 by the writings of Robert Blatchford
Robert Blatchford
Robert Peel Glanville Blatchford was a socialist campaigner, journalist and author in the United Kingdom. He was a prominent atheist and opponent of eugenics. He was also an English patriot...

 in the Clarion
The Clarion
The Clarion was a weekly newspaper published by Robert Blatchford, based in the United Kingdom. It was a socialist publication though adopting a British-focused rather than internationalist perspective on political affairs, as seen in its support of the British involvement in the Anglo-Boer Wars...

and joined the Independent Labour Party
Independent Labour Party
The Independent Labour Party was a socialist political party in Britain established in 1893. The ILP was affiliated to the Labour Party from 1906 to 1932, when it voted to leave...

.

His son (Aneurin Bevan) also joined the Tredegar branch of the South Wales Miners' Federation
South Wales Miners' Federation
The South Wales Miners' Federation , nicknamed "The Fed", was a trade union for miners in South Wales.The union was founded on 24 October 1898, following the defeat of the South Wales miners' strike of 1898...

 and became a trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 activist: he was head of his local Miners' Lodge at only 19. Bevan became a well-known local orator and was seen by his employers, the Tredegar Iron & Coal Company, as a revolutionary
Revolutionary
A revolutionary is a person who either actively participates in, or advocates revolution. Also, when used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.-Definition:...

. The manager of the colliery found an excuse to get him sacked. But, with the support of the Miners' Federation, the case was judged as one of victimisation and the company was forced to re-employ him.

In 1919, he won a scholarship to the Central Labour College
Central Labour College
The Central Labour College was a British higher education institution supported by trade unions. It functioned from 1909 to 1929.The college was formed as a result of the Ruskin College strike of 1909. The Plebs' League, which had been formed around a core of Marxist students and former students of...

 in London, sponsored by the South Wales Miners' Federation. At the college he gained his life-long respect for Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

. Reciting long passages by William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

, Bevan gradually began to overcome the stammer
Stuttering
Stuttering , also known as stammering , is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, and involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the stutterer is unable to produce sounds...

 that he had had since he was a child.

Bevan was one of the founding members of the "Query Club" with his brother Billy and Walter Conway
Walter Conway
Walter Conway was the distinguished Secretary of the Tredegar Medical Aid Society in South Wales. This society contributed the model which established the British National Health Service.-Biography:...

. The club started in 1920 or 1921 and they met in Tredegar
Tredegar
Tredegar is a town situated on the Sirhowy River in the county borough of Blaenau Gwent, in south-east Wales. Located within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire, it became an early centre of the Industrial Revolution in South Wales...

. They would collect money each week for any member who needed it. The club intended to break the hold that the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company had on the town by becoming members of pivotal groups in the community.
Upon returning home in 1921, he found that the Tredegar Iron & Coal Company refused to re-hire him. He did not find work until 1924 and his employer, the Bedwellty
Bedwellty
Bedwellty was a parish and urban district in Monmouthshire, South Wales, until 1974.The original ancient parish was very large, including most of the upper Ebbw and Sirhowy valleys...

 Colliery, closed down only ten months later. Bevan then had to endure another year of unemployment. In February 1925, his father died of pneumoconiosis
Pneumoconiosis
Pneumoconiosis is an occupational lung disease and a restrictive lung disease caused by the inhalation of dust, often in mines.-Types:Depending upon the type of dust, the disease is given different names:...

.

In 1926, he found work again, this time as a paid union official. His wage of £5 a week was paid by the members of the local Miners' Lodge. His new job arrived in time for him to head the local miners against the colliery companies in what would become the General Strike. When the strike started on 3 May 1926, Bevan soon emerged as one of the leaders of the South Wales miners. The miners remained on strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 for six months. Bevan was largely responsible for the distribution of strike pay in Tredegar and the formation of the Council of Action, an organisation that helped to raise money and provided food for the miners.

He was a member of the Cottage Hospital
Tredegar General Hospital
Tredegar General Hospital is a community hospital in Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, Wales providing rehabilitation and GP in-patient care with 85 full and part-time staff and 58 beds in two wards. There is a small 24 hour minor casualty unit staffed by nurses. The hospital is operated by the Aneurin...

 Management Committee around 1928 and was chairman in 1929/30.

Parliament

In 1928, Bevan won a seat on Monmouthshire County Council. With that success he was picked as the Labour Party candidate for Ebbw Vale (displacing the sitting MP), and easily held the seat at the 1929 General Election
United Kingdom general election, 1929
-Seats summary:-References:*F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987*-External links:***...

. In Parliament he soon became noticed as a harsh critic of those he felt opposed the working man. His targets included the Conservative Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and the Liberal David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

, as well as Ramsay MacDonald
Ramsay MacDonald
James Ramsay MacDonald, PC, FRS was a British politician who was the first ever Labour Prime Minister, leading a minority government for two terms....

 and Margaret Bondfield
Margaret Bondfield
Margaret Grace Bondfield was an English Labour politician and feminist, the first woman Cabinet minister in the United Kingdom and one of the first three female Labour MPs...

 from his own Labour party (he targeted the latter for her unwillingness to increase unemployment benefits). He had solid support from his constituency, being one of the few Labour MPs to be unopposed in the 1931 General Election
United Kingdom general election, 1931
The United Kingdom general election on Tuesday 27 October 1931 was the last in the United Kingdom not held on a Thursday. It was also the last election, and the only one under universal suffrage, where one party received an absolute majority of the votes cast.The 1931 general election was the...

 and this support grew through the 1930s and the period of the Great Depression in the United Kingdom
Great Depression in the United Kingdom
The Great Depression in the United Kingdom, also known as the Great Slump, was a period of national economic downturn in the 1930s, which had its origins in the global Great Depression...

.

Soon after he entered parliament Bevan was briefly attracted to Oswald Mosley
Oswald Mosley
Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet, of Ancoats, was an English politician, known principally as the founder of the British Union of Fascists...

's arguments, in the context of Macdonald's government's incompetent handling of rising unemployment. However, in the words of his biographer John Campbell, "he breached with Mosley as soon as Mosley breached with the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

". This is symptomatic of his lifelong commitment to the Labour Party, which was a result of his firm belief that only a Party supported by the British Labour Movement
Trade unions in the United Kingdom
Trade unions in the United Kingdom were first decriminalised under the recommendation of a Royal Commission in 1867, which agreed that the establishment of the organisations was to the advantage of both employers and employees...

 could have a realistic chance of attaining political power for the working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

. Thus, for Bevan, joining Mosley's New Party
New Party (Oswald Mosley)
The New Party was a political party briefly active in the United Kingdom in the early 1930s. It was formed by Sir Oswald Mosley, an MP who had belonged to both the Conservative and Labour parties, quitting Labour after its 1930 conference narrowly rejected his "Mosley Memorandum", a document he...

 was not an option.

He married fellow socialist MP Jennie Lee in 1934. He was an early supporter of the socialists in Spain and visited the country in the 1930s. In 1936 he joined the board of the new socialist newspaper Tribune
Tribune (magazine)
Tribune is a democratic socialist weekly, founded in 1937 published in London. It is independent but supports the Labour Party from the left...

. His agitations for a united socialist front of all parties of the left (including the Communist Party of Great Britain
Communist Party of Great Britain
The Communist Party of Great Britain was the largest communist party in Great Britain, although it never became a mass party like those in France and Italy. It existed from 1920 to 1991.-Formation:...

) led to his brief expulsion from the Labour Party in March to November 1939 (along with Stafford Cripps
Stafford Cripps
Sir Richard Stafford Cripps was a British Labour politician of the first half of the 20th century. During World War II he served in a number of positions in the wartime coalition, including Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Minister of Aircraft Production...

 and C.P. Trevelyan
Sir Charles Trevelyan, 3rd Baronet
Sir Charles Philips Trevelyan, 3rd Baronet PC , the Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland, was a British Liberal, and later Labour, politician and landowner...

). But, he was readmitted in November 1939 after agreeing "to refrain from conducting or taking part in campaigns in opposition to the declared policy of the Party."

He was a strong critic of the policies of Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

, arguing that his old enemy Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 should be given power. During the war he was one of the main leaders of the left in the Commons, opposing the wartime Coalition government. Bevan opposed the heavy censorship
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 imposed on radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and newspaper
Newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

s and wartime Defence Regulation 18B
Defence Regulation 18B
Defence Regulation 18B, often referred to as simply 18B, was the most famous of the Defence Regulations used by the British Government during World War II. The complete technical reference name for this rule was: Regulation 18B of the Defence Regulations 1939. It allowed for the internment of...

, which gave the Home Secretary the powers to intern citizens without trial. Bevan called for the nationalisation of the coal industry and advocated the opening of a Second Front in Western Europe in order to help the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in its fight with Germany. Churchill responded by calling Bevan "... a squalid nuisance".

Bevan was also critical of the leadership of the British Army which he felt was class bound and inflexible. After Auchinleck's defeat by Rommel and his disastrous retreat across Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica
Cyrenaica is the eastern coastal region of Libya.Also known as Pentapolis in antiquity, it was part of the Creta et Cyrenaica province during the Roman period, later divided in Libia Pentapolis and Libia Sicca...

 in 1942, Bevan made one of his most memorable speeches in the Commons in support of a motion of censure against the Churchill government. In this he said, "The Prime Minister must realise that in this country there is a taunt on everyone's lips that if Rommel had been in the British Army he would still have been a sergeant...There is a man in the British Army who flung 150,000 men across the Ebro in Spain, Michael Dunbar
Michael Dunbar
Michael Dunbar was a Chief of Staff of the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.The is some confusion over his first name. It appears to be interchangeable.-A Mention In A Letter From Secretary of State:...

. He is at present a sergeant...He was Chief of Staff in Spain, he won the Battle of the Ebro, and he is a sergeant." How angry this criticism made Churchill can be seen from the following. Churchill devotes almost an entire page in his history "The Second World War" to a lengthy quotation of this speech, yet he never mentions Bevan as the speaker, referring to him only as, "One Member."

Bevan believed that the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 would give Britain the opportunity to create "a new society". He often quoted an 1855 passage from Karl Marx: "The redeeming feature of war is that it puts a nation to the test. As exposure to the atmosphere reduces all mummies to instant dissolution, so war passes supreme judgment upon social systems that have outlived their vitality." At the beginning of the 1945 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1945
The United Kingdom general election of 1945 was a general election held on 5 July 1945, with polls in some constituencies delayed until 12 July and in Nelson and Colne until 19 July, due to local wakes weeks. The results were counted and declared on 26 July, due in part to the time it took to...

 campaign Bevan told his audience: "We have been the dreamers, we have been the sufferers, now we are the builders. We enter this campaign at this general election, not merely to get rid of the Tory majority. We want the complete political extinction of the Tory Party."

After World War II, when the Communists took control of China, Parliament debated the merits of recognising the Communist government. Churchill, no friend of Bevan or Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

, commented that recognition would be advantageous to the United Kingdom for various reasons and added, "Just because you recognise someone does not mean you like him. We all, for example, recognise the Right Honourable Member from Ebbw Vale."

Government

The 1945 General Election proved to be a landslide victory for the Labour Party, giving it a large enough majority to allow the implementation of the party's manifesto
Manifesto
A manifesto is a public declaration of principles and intentions, often political in nature. Manifestos relating to religious belief are generally referred to as creeds. Manifestos may also be life stance-related.-Etymology:...

 commitments and to introduce a programme of far-reaching social reforms that were collectively dubbed the 'Welfare State' (see 1945 Labour Election Manifesto). These reforms were achieved in the face of great financial difficulty following the war. The new Prime Minister, Clement Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

, appointed Aneurin Bevan as Minister of Health, with a remit that also covered Housing. Thus, the responsibility for instituting a new and comprehensive National Health Service, as well as tackling the country's severe post-war housing shortage, fell to the youngest member of Attlee's Cabinet in his first ministerial position. The free health service was paid for directly through public money. Government income was increased for the Welfare state expenditure by a severe increase in marginal tax rates for wealthy business owners in particular, as part of what the Labour government largely saw as the redistribution of the wealth created by the working class from the owners of large-scale industry to the workers.
On the "appointed day", 5 July 1948, having overcome political opposition from both the Conservative Party and from within his own party, and after a dramatic showdown with the British Medical Association
British Medical Association
The British Medical Association is the professional association and registered trade union for doctors in the United Kingdom. The association does not regulate or certify doctors, a responsibility which lies with the General Medical Council. The association’s headquarters are located in BMA House,...

, which had threatened to derail the National Health Service scheme before it had even begun, as medical practitioners continued to withhold their support just months before the launch of the service, Bevan's National Health Service Act of 1946 came into force. After 18 months of ongoing dispute between the Ministry of Health
Department of Health (United Kingdom)
The Department of Health is a department of the United Kingdom government with responsibility for government policy for health and social care matters and for the National Health Service in England along with a few elements of the same matters which are not otherwise devolved to the Scottish,...

 and the BMA
British Medical Association
The British Medical Association is the professional association and registered trade union for doctors in the United Kingdom. The association does not regulate or certify doctors, a responsibility which lies with the General Medical Council. The association’s headquarters are located in BMA House,...

, Bevan finally managed to win over the support of the vast majority of the medical profession by offering a couple of minor concessions, but without compromising on the fundamental principles of his NHS proposals. Bevan later gave the famous quote that, in order to broker the deal, he had "stuffed their mouths with gold". Some 2,688 voluntary and municipal hospital
Hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

s in England and Wales were nationalised and came under Bevan's supervisory control as Health Minister.

Bevan said:
Substantial bombing damage and the continued existence of pre-war slums in many parts of the country made the task of housing reform particularly challenging for Bevan. Indeed, these factors, exacerbated by post-war restrictions on the availability of building materials and skilled labour, collectively served to limit Bevan's achievements in this area. 1946 saw the completion of 55,600 new homes; this rose to 139,600 in 1947, and 227,600 in 1948. While this was not an insignificant achievement, Bevan's rate of housebuilding was seen as less of an achievement than that of his Conservative (indirect) successor, Harold Macmillan, who was able to complete some 300,000 a year as Minister for Housing in the 1950s. Macmillan was able to concentrate full-time on Housing, instead of being obliged, like Bevan, to combine his housing portfolio with that for Health (which for Bevan took the higher priority). However critics said that the cheaper housing built by Macmillan was exactly the poor standard of housing that Bevan was aiming to replace. Macmillan's policies led to the building of cheap, mass-production high-rise tower blocks, which have been heavily criticised since (arguably due to many of them degenerating into new slums).

Bevan was appointed Minister of Labour
Secretary of State for Employment
The Secretary of State for Employment was a position in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. In 1995 it was merged with Secretary of State for Education to make the Secretary of State for Education and Employment...

 (during which he helped to secure a deal for railwaymen which provided them with a big pay increase) in 1951 but soon resigned in protest at Hugh Gaitskell
Hugh Gaitskell
Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell CBE was a British Labour politician, who held Cabinet office in Clement Attlee's governments, and was the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1955, until his death in 1963.-Early life:He was born in Kensington, London, the third and youngest...

's introduction of prescription charges for dental care and spectacles—created in order to meet the financial demands imposed by the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

. Two other Ministers, John Freeman and Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson
James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, KG, OBE, FRS, FSS, PC was a British Labour Member of Parliament, Leader of the Labour Party. He was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the 1960s and 1970s, winning four general elections, including a minority government after the...

 resigned at the same time. See Bevan's speeches Later the same year, the Labour party lost power in a general election.

Opposition

In 1952 Bevan published In Place of Fear, "the most widely read socialist book" of the period, according to a highly critical right-wing Labour MP Anthony Crosland
Anthony Crosland
Charles Anthony Raven Crosland , otherwise Tony Crosland or C.A.R. Crosland, was a British Labour Party politician and author. He served as Member of Parliament for South Gloucestershire and later for Great Grimsby...

. Bevan begins: "A young miner in a South Wales colliery, my concern was with the one practical question: Where does power lie in this particular state of Great Britain, and how can it be attained by the workers?" In March 1952, a poorly prepared (and possibly inebriated) Bevan came off the worse in an evening Commons debate on health with Conservative backbencher Iain Macleod
Iain Macleod
Iain Norman Macleod was a British Conservative Party politician and government minister.-Early life:...

: Macleod's performance led Churchill to appoint him Minister of Health some six weeks after his debate with Bevan.

Out of office, Bevan soon initiated a split within the Labour Party between the right and the left. For the next five years, Bevan was the leader of the left-wing of the Labour Party, who became known as Bevanites. They criticised high defence expenditure (especially for nuclear weapons) and opposed the more reformist stance of Clement Attlee
Clement Attlee
Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955...

. In 1954, Gaitskell beat Bevan in a hard fought contest to be the Treasurer of the Labour Party
Treasurer of the Labour Party
The Treasurer of the Labour Party is a position on the National Executive Committee of the British Labour Party.Although a post with little power, in the past, it was often hotly contested by people who later became big names in British politics: Arthur Greenwood beat Herbert Morrison in 1943, Hugh...

. When the first British hydrogen bomb was exploded in 1955, Bevan led a revolt of 57 Labour MPs and abstained on a key vote. The Parliamentary Labour Party voted 141 to 113 to withdraw the whip from him, but it was restored within a month due to his popularity.

After the 1955 general election
United Kingdom general election, 1955
The 1955 United Kingdom general election was held on 26 May 1955, four years after the previous general election. It resulted in a substantially increased majority of 60 for the Conservative government under new leader and prime minister Sir Anthony Eden against Labour Party, now in their 20th year...

, Attlee retired as leader. Bevan contested the leadership against both Morrison
Herbert Morrison
Herbert Stanley Morrison, Baron Morrison of Lambeth, CH, PC was a British Labour politician; he held a various number of senior positions in the Cabinet, including Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister.-Early life:Morrison was the son of a police constable and was born in...

 and Labour right-winger Hugh Gaitskell
Hugh Gaitskell
Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell CBE was a British Labour politician, who held Cabinet office in Clement Attlee's governments, and was the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1955, until his death in 1963.-Early life:He was born in Kensington, London, the third and youngest...

, but it was Gaitskell who emerged victorious. Bevan's remark that "I know the right kind of political Leader for the Labour Party is a kind of desiccated calculating machine" was assumed to refer to Gaitskell, although Bevan denied it (commenting upon Gaitskell's record as Chancellor of the Exchequer
Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor of the Exchequer is the title held by the British Cabinet minister who is responsible for all economic and financial matters. Often simply called the Chancellor, the office-holder controls HM Treasury and plays a role akin to the posts of Minister of Finance or Secretary of the...

 as having "proved" this). However, Gaitskell was prepared to make Bevan Shadow Colonial Secretary, and then Shadow Foreign Secretary in 1956. In this position, he was a vocal critic of the government's actions in the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

, noticeably delivering high profile speeches in Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square is a public space and tourist attraction in central London, England, United Kingdom. At its centre is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. There are a number of statues and sculptures in the square, with one plinth displaying changing pieces of...

 on 4 November 1956 at a protest rally, and devastating the government's actions and arguments in the House of Commons on 5 December 1956. At the Trafalgar rally, Bevan accused the government of a "policy of bankrupcty and despair"”. Bevan stated at the Trafalgar rally:
"We are stronger than Egypt but there are other countries stronger than us. Are we prepared to accept for ourselves the logic we are applying to Egypt? If nations more powerful than ourselves accept the absence of principle, the anarchistic attitude of Eden and launch bombs on London, what answer have we got, what complaint have we got? If we are going to appeal to force, if force is to be the arbiter to which we appeal, it would at least make common sense to try to make sure beforehand that we have got it, even if you accept that abysmal logic, that decadent point of view.

We are in fact in the position today of having appealed to force in the case of a small nation, where if it is appealed to against us it will result in the destruction of Great Britain, not only as a nation, but as an island containing living men and women. Therefore I say to Anthony, I say to the British government, there is no count at all upon which they can be defended.

They have besmirched the name of Britain. They have made us ashamed of the things of which formerly we were proud. They have offended against every principle of decency and there is only way in which they can even begin to restore their tarnished reputation and that is to get out! Get out! Get out!"
That year, he was finally elected as party treasurer, beating George Brown
George Brown, Baron George-Brown
George Alfred Brown, Baron George-Brown, PC was a British Labour politician, who served as the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party from 1960 to 1970, and served in a number of positions in the Cabinet, most notably as Foreign Secretary, in the Labour Government of the 1960s...

.

In 1957, Bevan joined Richard Crossman
Richard Crossman
Richard Howard Stafford Crossman OBE was a British author and Labour Party politician who was a Cabinet Minister under Harold Wilson, and was the editor of the New Statesman. A prominent socialist intellectual, he became one of the Labour Party's leading Zionists and anti-communists...

 and Morgan Phillips
Morgan Phillips
Morgan Walter Phillips was a colliery worker and trade union activist who became the General Secretary of the British Labour Party, involved in two of the party's election victories....

 in a controversial lawsuit for libel against The Spectator
The Spectator
The Spectator is a weekly British magazine first published on 6 July 1828. It is currently owned by David and Frederick Barclay, who also owns The Daily Telegraph. Its principal subject areas are politics and culture...

 magazine, which had described the men as drinking heavily during a socialist conference in Italy. Having sworn that the charges were untrue, the three collected damages from the magazine. Many years later, Crossman's posthumously published diaries confirmed the truth of The Spectator's charges.

Bevan dismayed many of his supporters when, speaking at the 1957 Labour Party conference, he decried unilateral nuclear disarmament, saying "It would send a British Foreign Secretary naked into the conference-chamber". This statement is often misconstrued: Bevan argued that unilateralism would result in Britain's loss of allies, and one interpretation of his metaphor is that nakedness would come from the lack of allies, not the lack of weapons. According to the journalist Paul Routledge, Donald Bruce
Donald Bruce, Baron Bruce of Donington
Donald William Trevor Bruce, Baron Bruce of Donington was a British soldier, businessman and politician....

, a former MP and Parliamentary Private Secretary
Parliamentary Private Secretary
A Parliamentary Private Secretary is a role given to a United Kingdom Member of Parliament by a senior minister in government or shadow minister to act as their contact for the House of Commons; this role is junior to that of Parliamentary Under-Secretary, which is a ministerial post, salaried by...

 and adviser to Bevan, had told him that Bevan's shift on the disarmament issue was the result of discussions with the Soviet government where they advised him to push for British retention of nuclear weapons so they could possibly be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the United States.

In 1959, despite suffering from terminal cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

, Bevan was elected as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. He could do little in his new role and died the following year at the age of 62 at his home Asheridge Farm, Chesham
Chesham
Chesham is a market town in the Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire, England. It is located 11 miles south-east of the county town of Aylesbury. Chesham is also a civil parish designated a town council within Chiltern district. It is situated in the Chess Valley and surrounded by farmland, as well as...

, Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire
Buckinghamshire is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan home county in South East England. The county town is Aylesbury, the largest town in the ceremonial county is Milton Keynes and largest town in the non-metropolitan county is High Wycombe....

. His remains were cremated at Gwent Crematorium in Croesyceiliog
Croesyceiliog
Croesyceiliog is a suburb of Cwmbran in the county borough of Torfaen, south Wales, United Kingdom.- Housing :Croesyceiliog is primarily a residential district and contains a wide variety of housing from Victorian terraces and even older Welsh cottages to property built between 1930 and 1970 and...

.

His last speech in the House of Commons, in the Debate of the 3 November 1959 on the Queen's Speech, in which Bevan referred to the difficulties of persuading the electorate to support a policy which would make them less well-off in the short term but more prosperous in the long term, was quoted extensively in subsequent years.

In 2004, over 40 years after his death, he was voted first in a list of 100 Welsh Heroes
100 Welsh Heroes
100 Welsh Heroes was an opinion poll run in Wales as a response to the BBC's 100 Greatest Britons poll of 2002. The Welsh poll was carried out mainly on the internet, starting on 8 September 2003 and finishing on 23 February 2004...

, this being credited much to his contribution to the Welfare State
Welfare State
The Welfare State is a commitment to health, education, employment and social security in the United Kingdom.-Background:The United Kingdom, as a welfare state, was prefigured in the William Beveridge Report in 1942, which identified five "Giant Evils" in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness...

 after World War Two.

See also

  • Social democracy
    Social democracy
    Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

  • Democratic socialism
    Democratic socialism
    Democratic socialism is a description used by various socialist movements and organizations to emphasize the democratic character of their political orientation...

  • Bevanism
    Bevanism
    Bevanism was the ideological argument for the Bevanites, a movement on the Left wing of the Labour Party in the late 1950s and led by Nye Bevan. They were opposed by the Gaitskellites, who are variously described as Centre-left, Social Democrats, or 'moderates' within the Party.Bevanism was...

  • Blaenau Gwent
    Blaenau Gwent
    Blaenau Gwent is a county borough in South Wales, sharing its name with a parliamentary constituency. It borders the unitary authority areas of Monmouthshire and Torfaen to the east, Caerphilly to the west and Powys to the north. Its main towns are Abertillery, Brynmawr, Ebbw Vale and...

  • National Health Service
    National Health Service
    The National Health Service is the shared name of three of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom. They provide a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use to residents of the United Kingdom...

  • Trade Union
    Trade union
    A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

  • 100 Welsh Heroes
    100 Welsh Heroes
    100 Welsh Heroes was an opinion poll run in Wales as a response to the BBC's 100 Greatest Britons poll of 2002. The Welsh poll was carried out mainly on the internet, starting on 8 September 2003 and finishing on 23 February 2004...


Bibliographic publications

  • Why Not Trust The Tories?, 1944. Published under the pseudonym, 'Celticus'. The title was intended ironically.
  • In Place of Fear, 1952. (ISBN 9781163810118)
  • Excerpts from Bevan's speeches are included in Greg Rosen's Old Labour to New, Methuen, 2005.

Bevan's key speeches in the legislative arena are to be found in:
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed) Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volume I, Speeches at Westminster 1929-1944, Manutius Press, 1996.
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed), Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volume II, Speeches at Westminster 1945-1960, Manutius Press, 2000.
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed), Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volumes I and II, Speeches at Westminster 1929-1960, Manutius Press, 2004.

Further bibliographic reading

The major biographies are the uplifting two-volume Aneurin Bevan by Michael Foot
Michael Foot
Michael Mackintosh Foot, FRSL, PC was a British Labour Party politician, journalist and author, who was a Member of Parliament from 1945 to 1955 and from 1960 until 1992...

 (1962 and 1974) and the more sceptical Nye Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism, by John Campbell
John Campbell (biographer)
John Campbell is a British political writer and biographer.His works include biographies of Aneurin Bevan, Edward Heath, and Margaret Thatcher, the last consisting The Grocer's Daughter and its sequel The Iron Lady...

 (1987).

Bevan's widow, Jennie Lee, published My Life with Nye, in 1980.

Shorter biographical essays can be found in:
  • Kevin Jefferys (ed), Labour Forces, IB Taurus, 2002.
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed), Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volume I, Speeches at Westminster 1929-1944, Manutius Press, 1996.
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed), Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volume II, Speeches at Westminster 1945-1960, Manutius Press, 2000.
  • Peter J. Laugharne (ed), Aneurin Bevan - A Parliamentary Odyssey: Volumes I and II, Speeches at Westminster 1929-1960, Manutius Press, 2004.
  • Kenneth O. Morgan, Labour People, OUP, 1987.
  • Greg Rosen (ed), Dictionary of Labour Biography, Politicos Publishing, 2001
  • G D H Cole, Aneurin Bevan, Jim Griffiths, L F Easterbrook, Ait William Beveridge, and Harold J Laski, Plan for Britain: A Collection of Essays prepared for the Fabian Society(Not illustrated with 127 text pages).

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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