Clement Attlee was a Labour politician and prime minister from 1945-51. He was the first Labour prime minister with an absolute Common's majority. Attlee's post-war government enacted a broad program of socialist legislation in spite of conditions of austerity in which rationing was actually extended. By the end of 1946 acts had been passed nationalizing the Bank of England and creating the National Health Service. The railways, the mines and supply of gas and electricity soon followed into public ownership. Meanwhile he had been closely involved in the process of dismantling the British Empire, with independence given to India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Burma. Yet he believed in Britain playing a strong role in world affairs, accepting British participation in the Korean War. His majority was reduced to six in the 1950 election and he lost the election of the following year.
David Howell is Professor of Politics at the University of York, and one of Britain's leading experts in Labour Movement history. He is the editor of the Dictionary of Labour Biography and author of (amongst others) A Lost Left and Respectable Radicals: Studies in the Politics of Railway Trade Unionism.