Aneurin Bevan

(1897—1960) politician

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(b. 15 Nov. 1897, d. 6 July 1960).

British politician Born in Tredegar, Monmouthshire, he started work in a coalmine at the age of 13. He was active in the South Wales Miners' Federation, and was elected to Parliament as Labour Party MP for Ebbw Vale in 1929. Angered by MacDonald's failure to deal with unemployment, Bevan briefly considered supporting Mosley, but instead became an outspoken socialist critic of government policies. From 1939 until 1940, he was expelled from the party for advocating a Popular Front against Fascism, and remained vocal during the war, as a critic of Labour's subordinate attitude to Churchill.

As Minister of Health under Attlee, (1945–51), he was responsible for a programme of house‐building, and, most importantly, in 1948, for the creation of the National Health Service. In doing this, he tackled resistance from members of the medical profession by allowing private practice to continue. In 1951 he became Minister of Labour, but resigned over Gaitskell's imposition of charges for adult false teeth and spectacles, in order to help pay for Britain's contribution towards the Korean War. The informal Bevanite group, opposed to high defence spending and the party's concessions to capitalism, then formed within the party. In 1955 Bevan failed to defeat Gaitskell in the party leadership election, but in 1956 he became Shadow Foreign Secretary after he had criticized Eden's activities in the Suez Crisis. In 1957 he opposed those in the Bevanite group who demanded unilateral renunciation of the hydrogen bomb, thus dividing the left of the party. He was a brilliant and inspirational speaker in debates and on the platform. His wife, Jennie Lee, was also a Labour MP and minister.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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