Sir Stafford Cripps

(1889—1952) politician and lawyer

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British politician on the left of the Labour Party, who as chancellor of the exchequer (1947–50) introduced austere measures to deal with Britain's postwar foreign exchange crisis. He was knighted in 1930.

Born in London, Cripps was a brilliant student at Winchester and University College, London, where he read chemistry; he then became a barrister (1913) and was appointed King's Counsel in 1927 and solicitor-general in 1930. He was elected to parliament in 1931 and in the following year helped found the Socialist League. In 1936, in support of the antifascists in the Spanish civil war, he advocated formation of a British united front, to include communists. When this was revived in 1938, in the form of a Liberal–Labour popular front against Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of fascism, Cripps was expelled from the Labour Party. During World War II, he served as ambassador to Moscow (1940–42) and then as lord privy seal (1942). He headed a mission to India in 1942 that attempted, unsuccessfully, to rally the leaders of the Indian National Congress against Japan.

Cripps was readmitted to the Labour Party in 1945, when he was appointed president of the Board of Trade and then chancellor of the exchequer. His programme, which included high taxation on internal consumption and overseas purchases together with wage restraint, was largely successful in combating Britain's postwar economic difficulties.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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