Ernest Bevin(1881-1951) was a self made man who rose from humble circumstances to be a force to reckon with in the British politics. For example as a foreign minister when NATO was formed the US may have been the senior partner but he was the engine that got Britain on board. The son of poor parents, and an orphan at six he was schooled in adversity. Yet he could hold is own with the best brains and with greatest in the realm. When King George VI asked him where he had gained so much knowledge he replied,’Your Majesty, I plucked it from ‘edgerows of experience.’
Bevin joined the Dockers’ Union and rising through the ranks by the age of 30 he was elected general secretary, a post he was to hold for the next nineteen years.
He was a member of the Labour Party. In 1936 the Conservative government feared the spread of communism and was fairly sympathetic to the military uprising in Spain against the left-wing popular Front.
Bevin was a strong supporter of the PF government in Spain and in August 1936 made a speech where he praised “the heroic struggle being carried on by the workers of Spain to save their democratic regime.” Nevertheless he was against working with the Communist Party of Great Britain.
In May 1940 he was inducted by Churchill into his coalition government as Minister of Labour. Bevin successfully achieved mobilization of Britain’s workforce and became one of the most significant members of Churchill’s war cabinet. In 1945 Labor came into power Attlee appointed Bevin as his Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Bevin, who held strong anti-communist views, played an important role in the acceptance of the Marshall Plan, the creation of NATO and Britain’s decision to develop nuclear weapons.
His defects revealed themselves in a scepticism towards the new Israel and to a wider European Community.
According Harold Wilson Clement Attlee relied heavily on Bevin during his six years in power. Bevin’s main rival in the cabinet was Herbert Morrison whom he disliked. A fellow minister, Harold Wilson explained: “Ernie Bevin could not stand Herbert Morrison, who had been a City boss when Bevin had been head of one of the biggest unions and the two had clashed…’ A fellow MP, Robert Boothby tells the story of how the two men loathed each other. When a MP said to Bevin that “Morrison was his own worst enemy”, he replied, “Not while I’m alive he ain’t.” In very poor health, Bevin resigned from Attlee’s government in March 1951. Ernest Bevin died the following month on 14th April, 1951.(Ack: www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk
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