British Prime Minister, 1945-1951
Clement Attlee was born in London in 1883. He was educated at University College, Oxford. After this, in 1906 he started a legal career.
The first stage in his political career is thought to have occured around that time, when he became interested in social problems. This led to him becoming a socialist.
After a brief stint at LSE Attlee joined the army, as an officer in 1914. After fighting in Gallipoli he was wounded, and returned to England. He recovered only a few months before the end of the war, and went to serve on the Western Front. His final military rank was that of major.
After the war he returned to his academic job, but became more involved in politics. Having joined the Labour Party he became Mayor of Stepney. His breakthrough occurred in the 1922 General Election, when he contested, and won the seat of Limehouse, thus becoming a Labour MP. Two years later, in 1924 he was Under Secretary of State for War.
Labour won the General Election in 1929, and Attlee was made Postmaster-General. In 1931, despite Labour not retaining power, Attlee kept his seat, and was made Deputy Party Leader. In 1935 he became full leader of the party.
When a coalition government was formed in 1940, Attlee gained a lot of power and influence over Churchill. He is said to have acted as a stabilizing influence to Churchill's vigour. In 1942 he officially became Deputy Prime Minister.
Attlee won the 1945 General Election against Churchill, an excellent example of policy over personality politics. While Churchill was a hero to the British people, Attlee was seen as able to change Britain for the better. Helped on by plans made during the war, he made sweeping reforms to the way the country was run. Between 1945 and 1951 he was responsible for the independence of India; nationalization of the Bank of England, roads, mining, steel, gas and railways; and the creation of the NHS.
Attlee was voted out of office in 1951. After resigning his post in 1955 he became a peer, and was influential in the House of Lords until 1967, when he died.