Hugh Gaitskell

Biography of Hugh Gaitskell

Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell (9 April 1906 – 18 January 1963) was a British Labour politician, who held Cabinet office in Clement Attlee's governments, and was the Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1955 until his death in 1963.

He was born in Kensington, London, the third and youngest child of Arthur Gaitskell (1870–1915), of the Indian Civil Service, and Adelaide Mary Gaitskell, née Jamieson (died 1956), whose father, George Jamieson, was consul-general in Shanghai and prior to that had been Judge of the [[British Supreme Court for China and Japan]]. He was educated at the Dragon School from 1912 to 1919, at Winchester College from 1919 to 1924 and at New College, Oxford from 1924 to 1927, where he gained a first class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 1927.

His serious interest in politics came about as a result of the General Strike of 1926, and he lectured in economics for the Workers' Educational Association to miners in Nottinghamshire. Gaitskell moved to University College London in the early 1930s at the invitation of Noel Hall, and became head of the Department of Political Economy[citation needed] when Hall was appointed Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in 1938. He also worked as a tutor at Birkbeck College.

Gaitskell was attached to the University of Vienna for the 1933-4 academic year and witnessed first-hand the political suppression of the Marxist-oriented social democratic workers movement by the conservative Engelbert Dollfuss's government in Vienna in February 1934. This event made a lasting impression, making him profoundly hostile to conservatism but also making him reject as futile the Marxian outlook of many European social democrats. This placed him in the socialist revisionist camp.

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