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Welsh Politicians

Aneurin Bevan
1897-1960

Aneurin Bevan was born in Tredegar, the son of a coal miner, and he too went to work as a miner. During his time underground, he developed socialist principles, and won the Ebbw Vale seat in the Commons for the Labour Party in 1929, to become Britain's youngest MP at the time.

He was a rebel MP, attacking governments of all political persuasions. Despite his reputation, Clement Attlee appointed him as Minister for Health and Housing after the Labour election victory of 1945. He became famous for his work in establishing the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948, but was criticised for his housing policy. He demanded that new houses be larger and of a higher quality than those they replaced, and because of this, very few houses were constructed during the early years of the house building programme.

Bevan resigned from the government in April 1951 in protest at chancellor Hugh Gaitskell's proposal to introduce charges for some NHS services, and he was a thorn in the side of Attlee and Gaitskell as Labour leaders until he was appointed deputy leader of the party in 1959. He died in 1960.

Cartoons referring to Aneurin Bevan while Minister for Housing, his well known temper, and while working on a bill to nationalise the steel industry.

James Griffiths
1890-1975

James Griffiths was born in Ammanford and became a coal miner at the age of 13. He joined the Labour Party in 1908. After serving as an officer of the South Wales Miners' Federation, he was elected MP for Llanelli in 1936.

After the Labour victory of 1945, he was appointed Minister of National Insurance, and in 1950 became Secretary of State for the Colonies. He was deputy leader of the Labour Party from 1955 to 1959, and in 1964 Harold Wilson appointed him as the first Secretary of State for Wales, with a seat at the cabinet table. He held that post until 1966, and retired from Parliament in 1970. He died five years later.

This cartoon refers to James Griffiths' work as Minister for National Insurance, and comments on the rising cost of the system.

James Callaghan
1912-

Callaghan left school at 14, and found employment as a tax officer, and then as a union official in Cardiff. He joined the Navy in the Second World War, and was elected Labour MP for Cardiff South in the Labour landslide victory of 1945.

He stood for the party leadership in 1963 after the death of Hugh Gaitskell, but lost to Harold Wilson. Wilson however appointed him Chancellor of the exchequer when Labour won the election in 1964, but after the devaluation of the pound, he was moved to become Home Secretary. He also served as Foreign Secretary between 1974 and 1976 during Harold Wilson's second period as Prime Minister. After Wilson's retirement in 1976, he became Prime Minister, making him the only British politician to have held all four top posts in government. He resigned as Labour Party leader in 1980, after the defeat of the Labour Party in the 1979 general election, but served as an MP until 1987, when he became a life peer, and took up a seat in the House of Lords.

These cartoons refer to James Callaghan's taxation and spending policies while he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.