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Prime Minister Greenwood

Venocara

Britain expects that every man will do his duty...
Location
My house, in the middle of the street
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He/him
#1
No, not that one, but rather his father instead. Arthur Greenwood was a prominent member of the Labour Party from the 1920s through to the 1940s; he was a member of both Churchill's War Cabinet and Attlee's post-war Cabinet. He has been identified as having a key role in keeping Churchill in power and ensuring that Britain would continue to fight Nazi Germany during the dark days of May 1940.

Therefore, the question that I would like to ask is: Is it possible for Arthur Greenwood to become Prime Minister during the course of his career? If so, what kind of Prime Minister would he have been? What policies would he champion?
 
#2
Arthur Greenwood wasn't a vigorous or dynamic personality but could, I think, do a decent enough job under the right circumstances. His "speak for England" episode was very much the exception to his personal style but showed he had inner steel, if not perhaps the confidence or opportunity to show it. I see him as a unity candidate - personable, inoffensive, holding things steady, reliably conventional. Think !2009Alan Johnson for the best modern comparison.

I don't really know enough about him personally to know his personal politics. I assume he'd govern under whatever manifesto he was elected under and a broad continuity of thought leaders, Beveridge, Keynes, et. al. Certainly much the same issues of shifting from a wartime to peacetime economy, decolonisation, war debts, and the wider sense of making the most of Labour's third government and achieving what Lloyd George hadn't after the end of the First World War.

Greenwood first stood for the Labour leadership in 1935 against Attlee and Morrison, where it was alledged (by Morrison and his backer Hugh Dalton) that Greenwood was the beneficiary of anti-Morrisonian votes for those not yet enamoured with Attlee, who at this stage was seen as a stopgag -and before then, a dull, pretty insignificant backbencher who by sheer luck survived the catastrophe of 1931. We know how very wrong that view was, but it does show that Greenwood was considered the best Stop Morrison candidate of the (admittedly reduced) intake of 1935.

As Deputy Leader for 10 years under Attlee, who was never in the best of personal health, Greenwood continued with this Stop Morrison credibility, and this is really the best chance for him, I think. He didn't have the depth of skill to rise to the very top, but, as shown by his Speaking for England and his tough line against negotiating with Nazi Germany in May 1940, when pressed he was something to behold.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#4
One social policy he's linked to, Attlee cited him on his death as:

It was largely through him that the proposals for the Beveridge Committee were made. Then in the Labour Government he was charged with a general supervision of social policy, and his monument will remain in the social legislation of that period, legislation which, I think, gave expression to a broad feeling in this country besides being in consonance with the views of the party.
though again, this seemed a thing Attlee was also wanting done and was in line with someone else's report.
 

Venocara

Britain expects that every man will do his duty...
Location
My house, in the middle of the street
Pronouns
He/him
#5
Greenwood first stood for the Labour leadership in 1935 against Attlee and Morrison, where it was alledged (by Morrison and his backer Hugh Dalton) that Greenwood was the beneficiary of anti-Morrisonian votes for those not yet enamoured with Attlee, who at this stage was seen as a stopgag -and before then, a dull, pretty insignificant backbencher who by sheer luck survived the catastrophe of 1931. We know how very wrong that view was, but it does show that Greenwood was considered the best Stop Morrison candidate of the (admittedly reduced) intake of 1935.
Good question on what policy he'd do, he doesn't seem to have had a career that stands out as doing much more than what his leader was doing and by the 40s wasn't considered a very impressive minister (losing his Without Portfolio job). Apparently he was considered a nice guy, which was a problem when he was overseeing anything.
Do you think that, if he had managed to survive the 1931 election, he could have beaten Lansbury in the 1932 leadership election? If so, considering Greenwood's personality and traits, what would Greenwood's Labour Party look like?
 
#6
Do you think that, if he had managed to survive the 1931 election, he could have beaten Lansbury in the 1932 leadership election? If so, considering Greenwood's personality and traits, what would Greenwood's Labour Party look like?
Lansbury's election was, I think, not just because he was the only senior candidate left. He was, after all in the running for challenging MacDonald all the way back in 1924 for that Labour government's perceived failings and compromises. Ramsay MacDonald's drift from radical to incremental socialism, and his friendships with aristocrats like Lady Londonderry dismayed even the moderate wing of the Party. Added to this was the onset of his dementia and an increasingly irascibile and peevish personality, and he's not making many friends. The betrayal of 1931 was the final, irrevocable straw.

I would say that Lansbury would succeed MacDonald even if Labour had lost in 1929. There was as there is sometimes the demand for moral renewal, and the radicalism of Lansbury represented this. This sentment was only compounded by the deep agony of 1931. So Greenwood as a successor to MacDonald is unlikely, I think, the timing is too early and the Party isn't ready.

But assuming that he somehow got the job - I would imagine a much greater accomodation to the left who remained (Bevan, etc. Maxton is already well diverging from the Party), a concilliatory attitude towards splits, so perhaps you might see a greater acceptance of the idea of a Popular Front when it comes. Greenwood was promoted beyond his comfort zone; I do not rate him as a successful maintainer of discipline or as someone who could portray a coherent alternative to the Government, simply because he wasn't in the right job. Again, we come back to him best being suited as a Michael Howard-like figure. I think the poor fellow would find sustained Opposition just too exhausting.
 
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