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Hugh Gaitskell

Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell (1906-1963) was a British politician, leader of The Labour Party from 1955 until his death in 1963.

He was born in London and educated at New College, Oxford. He first became interested in politics as a result of the General Strike of 1926, and lectured in economics for the Workers' Educational Association to miners in Nottinghamshire. He became Labour MP for Leeds in 1945, quickly rose through the ministerial ranks, and was Chancellor of the Exchequer in the government of 1950. It was at this time that he fell out with Aneurin Bevan over the National Health Service. He later defeated Bevan in the party leadership contest, following the resignation of Clement Attlee in 1955.

Gaitskell's appointment as leader coincided with one of the Labour Party's leanest periods, and he is regarded by some as "the best Prime Minister we never had". A period of ill health led up to his untimely death, and left an opening for Harold Wilson.



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