Writing our own History

Hugh Dalton had an exceptionally long record of service in the Labour Party, on its National Executive, in Parliament and in high ministerial office, which, emphasised by his physical height, made him stand out amongst his contemporaries.

The son of a Canon of Windsor, an Eton boy, his political ideas can be traced back to his response to his own early environment, to his memories of the first world war, the depression in the inter-war years, his experience in politics, and his supreme confidence deriving from his clear perception that he was a permanent member of the British establishment. Whether they altogether shared that view among other members of the establishment, is a matter of controversy.

But he was a clever, ambitious and emotional man who did not suffer fools gladly, and never attempted to conceal the fact, a man of definite opinions and strong dislikes, which included the Germans, the rich, the aristocracy and the Left, including, in turn, Stafford Cripps, Nye Bevan and Harold Wilson whom he always described contemptuously as 'Nye's little dog'.

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