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Morrison file photo [5122]

Herbert Morrison

Given NameHerbert
Born3 Jan 1886
Died6 Mar 1965
CountryUnited Kingdom


ww2dbaseHerbert Stanley Morrison was a British Labour Party politician and Cabinet Minister. Educated at a primary school in London, in 1915 he became Secretary of the London Labour Party (a position he held until 1947). Entering local government Morrison was Mayor of Hackney 1919-20; socialist leader of the London County Council; an alderman from 1931; and leader of the Council from 1934 until 1940.

ww2dbaseHis first appearance in National politics occurred in 1923, when he was elected as the Labour Member of Parliament for South Hackney. He lost this seat in the election of 1924, but regained it five years later. During Ramsey MacDonald's minority Government he become the Minister of Transport (being responsible for the legislation that founded the London Passenger Transport Board). In 1931 he lost his seat again - a reason cited by many of his supporters as the factor as to why he was never selected as Leader of the Labour Party (and hence eventually Prime Minister).

ww2dbaseIn the 1935 election Morrison was once again elected to the House of Commons and immediately challenged Clement Attlee for the leadership of the party. He lost badly, a defeat ascribed to his unfamiliarity with the MPs who had served in the previous Parliament. Morrison concentrated on his LCC work.

ww2dbaseIn 1940, the Morrison became Minster of Supply in Churchill's wartime coalition government, but soon exchanged that post for the Home Office and the Ministry of Home Security. In 1942 he became a member of the War Cabinet. Morrison's experience in local government made him an efficient leader during the Blitz.

ww2dbaseIn 1945, in Atlee's Labour Government (whose Party Manifesto Morrison had co-written), the popular Morrison became leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council. From March to October 1951 he was Foreign Secretary, and from 1951 to 1955, during Churchill's second term, Deputy Leader of the opposition. Morrison resigned from this post after being defeated by Hugh Gaitskell for the position of leader of the Parlimentary Labour Party following Atlees retirement. In 1959 he was given a Life Peerage as Baron Morrison of Lambeth.

ww2dbaseHerbert Morrison's published works include: Looking ahead (1943), The Peaceful Revolution (1949), a collection of speeches - Government and Parliament (1954), and Herbert Morrison-an Autobiography (1960).

ww2dbaseSources: A History of Modern Britain (Andrew Marr, MacMillan, 2007), Everymans Encyclopedia Volume 8, Wartime Britain 1939-1945 (Juliet Gardiner, Headline Book Publishing, 2004), The Wordsworth Dictionary of British History (Wordsworth Reference, 1994).

Last Major Revision: Oct 2007

Herbert Morrison Timeline

3 Jan 1886 Herbert Morrison was born.
6 Mar 1965 Herbert Morrison passed away.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
27 Oct 2007 03:28:18 AM

Attlees place as Prime Minister following the Labour victory in 1945 was by no means secure. Many Party Members would have preferred the more popular Morrison. Such was the plotting within the corridors of Westminster following the election results that the burly ex-Trade Unionist Ernest Bevin is said to have quietly whispered to Attlee, whilst Morrison was out of the room taking a telephone call, that he had better sneak off to see the King immediately. This Attlee did and as duely rewarded by being confirmed as Prime Minister.

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