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Philip Snowden: The First Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer

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John Campbell agrees that Bevan may have been partly right that Gaitskell, abetted by Morrison, was deliberately trying to drive him out of the Cabinet. This would have been a rare honour as 263 of the 393 Labour MPs in 1945 were newly elected, but did not take place.

Harold Wilson, speech at a luncheon in the House of Commons to commemorate the centenary of Ramsay MacDonald's birth (12 October 1966), quoted in The Times (13 October 1966), p. He profoundly believed in the morality of the balanced budget, with rigorous economy and not a penny wasted. As Chancellor of the Exchequer he retained the same control over economic planning which Cripps had had. He and 62 other abstained in the vote, leading to demands from loyalists that the party whip be withdrawn from him as a preliminary to him being formally expelled from the Labour Party by the NEC.Bevan's ally Michael Foot wrote an editorial in Tribune comparing Gaitskell to Philip Snowden (the Chancellor whose cuts in 1931 had brought down the Second Labour Government, after which he and other leading members of the Cabinet entered into the Tory-dominated National Government). At Newcastle, with a general election clearly imminent, Gaitskell pledged that Labour's spending plans would not require him to raise income tax, for which he was attacked by the Tories for supposed irresponsibility. By 1951 inflation was beginning to increase, the government budget surplus had disappeared, and in another sign of an overheating economy unemployment was down to 1945 levels. Gaitskell still supported physical controls and his views were a little to the left of those expressed by Anthony Crosland in "The Future of Socialism" (1956). The function of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as I understand it, is to resist all demands for expenditure made by his colleagues and, when he can no longer resist, to limit the concession to the barest point of acceptance.

Gaitskell recorded that Bridges, Plowden, Leslie (Head of Information) and Armstrong were all urging him to stand firm and that he was "overcome with emotion" at Armstrong's words. Gaitskell played an important role steering the Coal Nationalisation Bill through the House of Commons, bearing the brunt of the committee stage and winding up the final debate. An economics lecturer and wartime civil servant, he was elected to Parliament in 1945 and held office in Clement Attlee's governments, notably as Minister of Fuel and Power following the bitter winter of 1946–47, and eventually joining the Cabinet as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Neil Kinnock (Labour Leader 1983–92) grew up in South Wales and was brought up as an admirer of Bevan, but although he disliked the comparison his battle with the hard-left Militant tendency in the mid-1980s had echoes of Gaitskellism; John Smith (Labour Leader 1992–4) had been a Gaitskellite as a young man in the early 1960s; Tony Blair's first act as leader in 1994 was finally to abolish Clause IV – for this and other acts he was supported by the elderly Roy Jenkins, who had become a Liberal Democrat by then.

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