- Stafford Cripps
The Right Honourable
Sir Stafford Cripps
Chancellor of the Exchequer In office
13 November 1947 – 19 October 1950
Prime Minister Clement Attlee Preceded by Hugh Dalton Succeeded by Hugh Gaitskell Minister for Economic Affairs In office
29 September 1947 – 13 November 1947
Prime Minister Clement Attlee Preceded by New creation Succeeded by Post abolished (Trial post) President of the Board of Trade In office
27 July 1945 – 29 September 1947
Prime Minister Clement Attlee Preceded by Oliver Lyttelton Succeeded by Harold Wilson Personal details Born 24 April 1889
Died 21 April 1952(aged 62)
Political party Labour Spouse(s) Isobel Cripps Religion Anglican
Sir Richard Stafford Cripps (24 April 1889 – 21 April 1952) was a British Labour politician of the first half of the 20th century. During World War II he served in a number of positions in the wartime coalition, including Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Minister of Aircraft Production. After the war he served in the Attlee Ministry, firstly as President of the Board of Trade and between 1947 and 1950 as Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the latter position, Cripps was responsible for laying the foundations of Britain’s post-war economic prosperity, and was, according to the historian Eric Shaw, “the real architect of the rapidly improving economic picture and growing affluence from 1952 onwards.”
Cripps was born in London. His father was a Conservative member of the House of Commons who late in life, as Lord Parmoor, joined the Labour Party. His mother, the former Theresa Potter, was the sister of Beatrice Webb. Cripps grew up in a wealthy family and was educated at Winchester College and at University College London, where he studied chemistry. He left science for the law, and in 1912 was called to the bar as a barrister. He served in the First World War as an ambulance driver in France, and managed a factory producing armaments. He remained a barrister during the 1920s, where he specialised in patent cases, and was reported to be the highest paid lawyer in the country.
Joining the Labour Party
At the end of the 1920s Cripps moved to the far left in his political views, and in 1930 he joined the Labour Party. The next year, Cripps was appointed Solicitor-General in the second Labour government. This post was customarily accompanied by a knighthood, making him Sir Stafford Cripps. In 1931, Cripps was elected in a by-election for Bristol East. During his time in parliament, he was a strong proponent of Marxist social and economic policies, although his strong faith in evangelical Christianity prevented him from subscribing to the Marxist rejection of religion.
In the 1931 general election, Cripps was one of only three former Labour ministers to hold their seats alongside the party leader George Lansbury and deputy leader Clement Attlee. In 1932 he was one of the founders of the Socialist League, which was composed largely of members of the Independent Labour Party who rejected its decision to disaffiliate from Labour. The Socialist League put the case for an austere form of democratic socialism.
In 1936, Labour's National Executive Committee dissociated itself from a speech in which Cripps said he did not "believe it would be a bad thing for the British working class if Germany defeated us". Cripps also opposed British rearmament: "Money cannot make armaments. Armaments can only be made by the skill of the British working class, and it is the British working class who would be called upon to use them. To-day you have the most glorious opportunity that the workers have ever had if you will only use the necessity of capitalism in order to get power yourselves. The capitalists are in your hands. Refuse to make munitions, refuse to make armaments, and they are helpless. They would have to hand the control of the country over to you".
Cripps was an early advocate of a United Front against the rising threat of fascism and he opposed an appeasement policy towards Nazi Germany. In 1936 he was the moving force behind a Unity Campaign, involving the Socialist League, the Independent Labour Party and the Communist Party of Great Britain, designed to forge electoral unity against the right. Opposed by the Labour leadership, the Unity Campaign failed in its intentions, rather than face expulsion from Labour, Cripps dissolved the Socialist League in 1937. Tribune, set up as the campaign's newspaper by Cripps and George Strauss, survived. In early 1939, however, Cripps was expelled from the Labour Party for his advocacy of a Popular Front with the Communist Party and anti-appeasement Liberals and Conservatives.
Second World War
When Winston Churchill formed his wartime coalition government in 1940 he appointed Cripps Ambassador to the Soviet Union in the view that Cripps, an avowed Marxist, could negotiate with Joseph Stalin who was at this time allied with Nazi Germany through the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Cripps led a mission to Moscow in 1940 and obtained a secret but explicit pledge that the Soviet Union would enter the war on the British side. When Hitler attacked in June 1941, Cripps became a key figure in forging an alliance between the western powers and the Soviet Union.
In 1942 Cripps returned to Britain and made a broadcast about the Soviet war effort. The popular response was phenomenal, and Cripps rapidly became one of the most popular politicians in the country, despite having no party backing. He was appointed a member of the War Cabinet, with the jobs of Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons, and was considered for a short period after his return from the Soviet Union as nearly a rival to Churchill in his hold on the country. The London bureau chief of the Associated Press reported in American newspapers in early March 1942 the prediction by "an extremely well-placed and reliable political source ... that there was every likelihood" that Cripps would unseat Churchill as prime minister. Instead, Churchill sent Cripps to India on what is known as the Cripps Mission to attempt to negotiate an agreement with the nationalist leaders Gandhi and Jinnah that would keep India loyal to the British war effort in exchange for a promise of full self-government after the war. No formal agreement was reached. For Churchill, the purpose of the trip was propaganda. Churchill intended Cripps to fail and blocked his efforts to give the Indians a role in the leadership of the war with the help of Linlithgow. Later in 1942 he stepped down from being Leader of the House of Commons and was appointed Minister of Aircraft Production, a position outside the War Cabinet but in which he served with substantial success. In 1945 Cripps rejoined the Labour Party.
Cripps was unhappy with the British black propaganda campaign against Germany. When Cripps discovered what Sefton Delmer was involved with (through the intervention of Richard Crossman) he wrote to Anthony Eden, then Foreign Secretary: "If this is the sort of thing that is needed to win the war, why, I'd rather lose it." Delmer was defended by Robert Bruce Lockhart who pointed out the need to reach the sadist in the German nature.
After the war
When Labour won the 1945 general election, Clement Attlee appointed Cripps President of the Board of Trade, the second most important economic post in the government. Although still a strong socialist, Cripps had modified his views sufficiently to be able to work with mainstream Labour ministers. In Britain's desperate post-war economic circumstances, Cripps became associated with the policy of "austerity." As an upper-class socialist he held a puritanical view of society, enforcing rationing with equal severity against all classes. Together with other individuals he was instrumental in the foundation of the original College of Aeronautics, now Cranfield University, in 1946. The Vice-Chancellor's building is known as "Stafford-Cripps".
In 1946 Soviet jet engine designers approached Stalin with a request to buy jet designs from Western sources to overcome design difficulties. Stalin is said to have replied: "What fool will sell us his secrets?" However, he gave his assent to the proposal, and Soviet scientists and designers travelled to the United Kingdom to meet Cripps and request the engines. To Stalin's amazement, Cripps and the Labour government were perfectly willing to provide technical information on the Rolls-Royce Nene centrifugal-flow jet engine designed by RAF officer Frank Whittle, along with discussions of a licence to manufacture Nene engines. The Nene engine was promptly reverse-engineered and produced in modified form as the Soviet Klimov VK-1 jet engine, later incorporated into the MiG-15 which flew in time to deploy in combat against UN forces in North Korea in 1950, causing the loss of several B-29 bombers and cancellation of their daylight bombing missions over North Korea.
In 1946, Cripps returned to India as part of the "Cabinet Mission", which proposed various formulae for independence to the Indian leaders. The other two members of the delegation were Lord Pethick-Lawrence, the Secretary of State for India, and A. V. Alexander, the First Lord of the Admiralty. However, the solution devised by the three men, known as the Cabinet Mission Plan, was unsatisfactory to the Indian National Congress mainly its principal leaders. , and instead of having to hold together the emerging one nation, Indian National Congress leaders travelled further down the road that eventually led to Partition.
In 1947, amid a growing economic and political crisis, Cripps tried to persuade Attlee to retire in favour of Ernest Bevin; however, Bevin was in favour of Attlee remaining. Cripps was instead appointed to the new post of Minister for Economic Affairs. Six weeks later Hugh Dalton resigned as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Cripps succeeded him, with the position of Minister for Economic Affairs now merged into the Chancellorship. He increased taxes and forced a reduction in consumption in an effort to boost exports and stabilise the Pound Sterling so that Britain could trade its way out of its crisis. He strongly supported the nationalisation of strategic industries such as coal and steel.
Despite financial problems from 1948 to 1949, Cripps maintained a high level of social spending on housing, health, and other welfare services, while also maintaining the location of industry policy. In addition, levels of personal prosperity continued to rise, as characterised by cricket and football enjoying unprecedented booms, together with the holiday camps, the dance hall, and the cinema. In his last budget as chancellor (introduced in 1950) the housebuilding programme was restored to 200,000 per annum (after having previously been reduced due to government austerity measures) while income tax was reduced for low-income earners as an overtime incentive. Although Cripps's severe manner and harsh policies made him unpopular, he won respect for the sincerity of his convictions and his tireless labours for Britain's recovery. His name once induced an infamous Spoonerism when the BBC announcer McDonald Hobley introduced him as 'Sir Stifford Crapps'.
Cripps had suffered for many years from colitis, inflammation of the lower bowel, a condition aggravated by excessive stress. In 1950 his health broke down under the strain and he was forced to resign his office in October. He resigned from Parliament the same month, and at the resulting by-election on 30 November he was succeeded as MP for Bristol South East by Tony Benn. Cripps died two years later while recuperating in Switzerland.
Cripps was the nephew maternally of Beatrice Webb, whose sister Theresa Potter was his mother. He was married to Isobel, Lady Cripps, better known as Dame Isobel Cripps (1891–1979), and had four children
- Sir John Stafford Cripps (1912–1993) whose only son is married, and has issue. Sir John's son and grandson are in remainder to the Barony of Parmoor.
- Isobel Diana Cripps (1913–1985) who died unmarried
- (Anne) Theresa Cripps (1919–1998), who was married 1945 to Sir Robert Cornwallis Gerald St. Leger Ricketts, 7th Bt, and had two sons and two daughters. The elder son Sir Tristram Ricketts, 8th Bt. succeeded his father, died in 2007, and has been succeeded by his own son, Sir Stephen Ricketts, 9th Bt.
- Peggy Cripps, born Enid Margaret Cripps (1921–2006), children's author, philanthropist and socialite. Peggy Cripps shocked much British opinion by marrying the black African aristocrat Nana Joseph Emmanuel Appiah (1918–1990), a relative of the Ashanti king of Ghana, in June 1953. Peggy Appiah had one son and three daughters. Her son is the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah (b. May 1954 London), the Laurance S. Rockefeller professor of philosophy at Princeton University. Her three daughters live in Namibia, Nigeria, and Ghana and have had eight children between them.
Cripps was a vegetarian, certainly for health reasons and possibly also for ethical reasons. "Cripps suffered from recurring illness which was alleviated by nature cure and a vegetarian diet...".
- ^ The Labour Party since 1945 by Eric Shaw
- ^ Busch, Noel F. (8 March 1948). "Sir Stafford Cripps". Life: pp. 134.
- ^ Maurice Cowling, The Impact of Hitler. British Politics and British Policies, 1933-1940 (Chicago University Press, 1977), p. 215.
- ^ The Times (15 March 1937), p. 21.
- ^ Drew Middleton, Says Cripps May be New English Prime Minister, Mason City Globe-Gazette, 1942-03-05, at 2, available at NewspaperArchive.com.
- ^ William Roger Louis, "Ends of British Imperialism: the Scramble for Empire, Suez and Decolonization", page 399
- ^ Sir Stafford Cripps and the German Admiral's Orgy by Lee Richards, PsyWar.Org, 2007
- ^ Gordon, Yefim, Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-15: The Soviet Union's Long-Lived Korean War Fighter Midland Press (2001)
- ^ Cooke, Colin. 1957. The Life of Richard Stafford Cripps
- ^ Labour in Power, 1945-51 by Kenneth Morgan
- ^ The Labour Governments, 1945-51 by Henry Pelling
- ^ "Thousands of true funny stories about famous people. Anecdotes from Gates to Yeats". Anecdotage.Com. http://www.anecdotage.com/index.php?aid=1460. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- ^ "Person Page 23207". thePeerage.com. http://thepeerage.com/p23207.htm#i232066. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- ^ "Person Page 5378". thePeerage.com. http://thepeerage.com/p5378.htm#i53775. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- ^ "Sir Tristram Ricketts, Bt". Telegraph. 2007-11-17. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/11/17/db1702.xml. Retrieved 2010-06-06.
- ^ Nadine Brozan. "Peggy Appiah, 84, Author Who Bridged Two Cultures, Dies" The New York Times
- ^ Twigg, Julia. 1981. The Vegetarian Movement in England, 1847-1981: A Study of the Structure of Its Ideology. PhD Thesis, London School of Economics, p. 247, 292.
- Archival material relating to Stafford Cripps listed at the UK National Register of Archives
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Stafford Cripps
- Blue plaque to Sir Stafford Cripps at Filkins
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Minister of DefenceWinston Churchill (1940–1945)
Deputy Prime MinisterClement Attlee (1942–1945) Lord President of the Council Lord Privy SealClement Attlee (1940–1942) • Sir Stafford Cripps (1942) Chancellor of the Exchequer Foreign Secretary Home SecretaryHerbert Morrison (1940–1945) Minister of Aircraft ProductionLord Beaverbrook (1940–1941) Secretary of State for Dominion AffairsClement Attlee (1942–1943) Minister of Labour and National ServiceErnest Bevin (1940–1945) Minister Resident Middle East Minister without PortfolioArthur Greenwood (1940–1942) Minister of ReconstructionLord Woolton (1943–1945) Minister of StateLord Beaverbrook (1941) Minister of SupplyLord Beaverbrook (1941–1942) Minister of Production
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