105 Facts About Aneurin Bevan


Aneurin Bevan is known for his wider contribution to the founding of the British welfare state.


Aneurin Bevan was first elected as MP for Ebbw Vale in 1929, and used his Parliamentary platform to make a number of influential criticisms of Winston Churchill and his Conservative government during the Second World War.


Aneurin Bevan is widely regarded as one of the most influential left-wing politicians in British history.


Aneurin Bevan first worked as a miner during his teens where he became involved in local miner's union politics.


Aneurin Bevan was elected head of his Miners' Lodge when aged 19, where he frequently railed against management.


Aneurin Bevan joined the Labour Party and attended Central Labour College in London.


In 1928, Aneurin Bevan won a seat on Monmouthshire County Council and was elected as the MP for Ebbw Vale the following year.


Aneurin Bevan was named Minister of Labour in 1951, but resigned after two months in office, when the Attlee government proposed the introduction of prescription charges for dental and vision care and decided to transfer funds from the National Insurance Fund to pay for rearmament.


Aneurin Bevan's influence waned after his departure, although a left-wing group within the party became known as "Bevanites".


Aneurin Bevan was born on 15 November 1897 at 32 Charles Street in Tredegar, Monmouthshire, a working-class mining town, where an estimated 90 per cent of the town's inhabitants relied on the local mines for employment.


Aneurin Bevan was the son of coal miner David Bevan and Phoebe, a seamstress.


David Aneurin Bevan was born in Tredegar but his family had originally hailed from Carmarthenshire, and he followed his own father into the mines, starting work at 5:30am each day and returning home late in the evening.


Aneurin Bevan was adept at construction and added several modern features when the family moved to 7 Charles Street, installing the first gas stove in the street, an inside toilet and running hot water.


Aneurin Bevan had been a supporter of the Liberal Party in his youth, but was converted to socialism by the writings of Robert Blatchford in The Clarion and joined the Independent Labour Party.


Aneurin Bevan was a member of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion and wrote his own poems, one of which won an inter-chapel eisteddfod.


Aneurin Bevan's mother was from Tredegar, but had English roots: her grandfather was from Hereford.


Aneurin Bevan's maternal grandfather John was a blacksmith who had moved to Tredegar from Hay-on-Wye to work in the Bedwellty mines.


Aneurin Bevan attended Sirhowy Elementary School, where he achieved little.


Aneurin Bevan developed a severe stammer as a child and, according to his younger sister Myfanwy, became "a lonely chap", due to the need to shy away from the attention it brought him.


Aneurin Bevan's father died by pneumoconiosis but no compensation was paid to him, as it was not classed as an industrial disease under the Workman's Compensation Act.


Aneurin Bevan worked at the butcher's for several months before leaving school, instead working in the local Ty-Trist Colliery.


Aneurin Bevan began attending fortnightly meetings of the local Plebs' League where he studied, among other things, Marxism.


Aneurin Bevan joined the Tredegar branch of the South Wales Miners' Federation and became a trade union activist: he was head of his local Miners' Lodge at 19 years of age.


Aneurin Bevan was called up for service during the First World War, and was briefly arrested when his sister Blodwen burnt his conscription papers and he failed to report for duty.


Aneurin Bevan appeared in court but was cleared when he produced confirmation that he suffered from nystagmus.


Aneurin Bevan became a well-known local orator and was seen by his employers, the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company, as a troublemaker.


Aneurin Bevan was later fired for refusing to unload, and successfully challenged the motion but was moved to Pochin, generally considered a punishment due to the poor site conditions.


Aneurin Bevan read Marxism at the college and was a brief follower of Noah Ablett, developing his left-wing political outlook.


Aneurin Bevan remained at the college until 1921, attending at a time when a number of his contemporaries from South Wales, including Jim Griffiths, were students at the college.


Aneurin Bevan was not, apparently, one of the most diligent students, and found it difficult to follow an organised routine, including arising early for breakfast.


Aneurin Bevan was one of the founding members of the "Query Club" with his brother Billy and Walter Conway.


Aneurin Bevan followed his advice, often practising his speeches to his friends to perfect his speech and wording, and remarked that Conway's words were the "best advice I ever had".


Aneurin Bevan ended up in a fist fight with a group of miners who refused to strike over his rejection.


Aneurin Bevan then endured another year of unemployment, the family surviving on his sister's wages, when his unemployment benefit was stopped due to her income, and his father's sick pay.


Aneurin Bevan was largely responsible for the distribution of strike pay in Tredegar and the formation of the Council of Action, an organisation that helped to raise money and provide food for the miners.


In 1928, Aneurin Bevan won a seat on Monmouthshire County Council in the Tredegar Central Division.


Aneurin Bevan lost the seat in 1931, but regained it in 1932 before deciding against seeking re-election in 1934.


Aneurin Bevan gained more than twice the votes of Liberal candidate William Griffiths, receiving 20,000 votes to Griffiths' 8,000.


Aneurin Bevan's targets included the Conservative Winston Churchill and the Liberal David Lloyd George, as well as Ramsay MacDonald and Margaret Bondfield from his own Labour party.


Aneurin Bevan had solid support from his constituency, being one of the few Labour MPs to be unopposed in the 1931 General Election, and this support grew through the 1930s and the period of the Great Depression.


In January 1931, Aneurin Bevan wrote a letter to the government on behalf of the Mosley group, raising concerns over its "failure to deal with unemployment".


Mosley broke from the Labour Party in early 1931 to form the New Party, but Aneurin Bevan refused to defect and instead announced that he had no intention of leaving the Labour Party.


Aneurin Bevan married fellow Socialist MP Jennie Lee in 1934, after they met in London.


Aneurin Bevan was readmitted to the party on 20 December 1939, after agreeing "to refrain from conducting or taking part in campaigns in opposition to the declared policy of the Party".


Aneurin Bevan strongly criticised the National Government's rearmament plans in the face of the rise of Nazi Germany, saying to the Labour conference in autumn 1937:.


When Winston Churchill said that the Labour Party should refrain from giving Adolf Hitler the impression that Britain was divided, Aneurin Bevan rejected this as sinister:.


Aneurin Bevan now called unsuccessfully for a Popular Front against fascism under the leadership of the Labour Party, including even anti-fascist Tories.


When Labour supported the government's scheme with no such conditions, Aneurin Bevan denounced Labour for imploring the people on recruiting platforms to put themselves under the leadership of their opponents.


The Military Training Act 1939 reintroduced conscription six months later, and Aneurin Bevan joined the rest of the Labour Party in opposing it, calling it "the complete abandonment of any hope of a successful struggle against the weight of wealth in Great Britain".


Aneurin Bevan emphasised that the government had no arguments to persuade young men to fight "except merely in another squalid attempt to defend themselves against the redistribution of international swag".


In Parliament, Aneurin Bevan argued that this was the logical outcome of the government's foreign policy.


Aneurin Bevan wanted the war to be not just a fight against fascism but a war for socialism.


Aneurin Bevan was relieved that the country had united against Nazi Germany in the fight against fascism to provide a common enemy away from the working class.


Aneurin Bevan was a strong critic of Chamberlain, arguing that his old rival Winston Churchill should become prime minister.


Aneurin Bevan opposed the heavy censorship imposed on radio and newspapers and wartime Defence Regulation 18B, which gave the Home Secretary the powers to intern citizens.


Aneurin Bevan called for the nationalisation of the coal industry and advocated the opening of a Second Front in Western Europe to help the Soviet Union in its fight with Germany.


Aneurin Bevan believed that the key to the war was the involvement of Russia and considered Churchill was too focused on the intervention of the United States.


Aneurin Bevan feared that allowing Churchill to continue unopposed and unchallenged in Parliament during the war would leave him almost unbeatable for the Labour Party in future elections.


Aneurin Bevan was critical of the leadership of the British Army, which he felt was class bound and inflexible.


Aneurin Bevan was Chief of Staff in Spain, he won the Battle of the Ebro, and he is a sergeant.


Aneurin Bevan was subject to further disciplinary action in 1944, when he deliberately voted against Labour's stance on new defence regulations.


Aneurin Bevan voiced criticism of trade union leaders, which drew complaints from both the Miners' Federation and the Trades Union Congress.


Aneurin Bevan believed that the Second World War would give Britain the opportunity to create "a new society".


Aneurin Bevan had clashed frequently with Attlee during his time as an MP, believing that the Labour leader failed to apply enough pressure on the Tory government during the war.


Aneurin Bevan had seen disputes with some of Attlee's closest allies, Ernest Bevin and Herbert Morrison, who were appointed Foreign Secretary and Leader of the House respectively.


However, Attlee commented that Aneurin Bevan was "starting with me with a clean sheet" following his appointment.


Aneurin Bevan tested this newfound solidarity early on by arriving to a royal banquet at St James's Palace wearing a navy lounge suit.


Aneurin Bevan earned a rebuke from Attlee, but Bevan contended that his Welsh mining constituency did not send him to Parliament to "dress up", and he declined to wear formal attire at further Buckingham Palace functions.


Aneurin Bevan had been inspired by the Tredegar Medical Aid Society in his hometown, where residents would pay a subscription that would fund access for all of the town's inhabitants to have free access to medical services such as nursing or dental care.


At a dinner in late 1955 or early 1956 to celebrate the publication of the Guillebaud Report into NHS costs Aneurin Bevan remarked to Julian Tudor Hart "ultimately I had to stuff their mouths with gold" about his handling of the consultants.


Two of the key elements of Aneurin Bevan's proposals were this nationalisation of the hospital services and the abolition of the sale and purchase of goodwill by general practitioners.


Aneurin Bevan countered that the initial overspending was down to years of underinvestment in the British medical system prior to the Second World War: by the start of the 1950s, the early overspending had come to an end.


Aneurin Bevan was limited due to his desire for new homes to be bigger and of better quality than the ones they were being built to replace, based on the recommendations of a 1943 report by the Dudley Committee, and a shortage of skilled workers to undertake the work.


Macmillan was able to concentrate full-time on the housing crisis, instead of being obliged, like Aneurin Bevan, to combine his housing portfolio with that for Health.


In 1951, with the retirement of Ernest Bevin, Aneurin Bevan was a leading candidate for Foreign Secretary.


Aneurin Bevan was instead appointed Minister of Labour in January 1951 in place of George Isaacs.


An infuriated Aneurin Bevan stated that he would never be a member of a government that imposed charges on the National Health Service.


Aneurin Bevan resigned from his position two weeks later, stating both the proposed changes and the increase in military expenditure that necessitated the need for such proposals.


Aneurin Bevan received unanimous support for his actions from his local Labour constituency leaders.


In 1952 Aneurin Bevan published In Place of Fear, "the most widely read socialist book" of the period, according to a highly critical right-wing Labour MP Anthony Crosland.


In March 1952, a poorly prepared Aneurin Bevan came off the worse in an evening Commons debate on health with Conservative backbencher Iain Macleod, whose performance led Churchill to appoint him as Minister of Health some six weeks after the debate.


Out of office, Aneurin Bevan soon exacerbated the split within the Labour Party between the right and the left which weakened the party in the 1950s.


Aneurin Bevan later said that he had resigned his position to "call attention to the fact that their movement was in grave crisis", and stated his belief that he would have been party chairman by the following year if he had remained.


Aneurin Bevan's nomination received a severe blow on the same day it was announced, when two unions that traditionally sided with the left, the National Union of Mineworkers and the Amalgamated Engineering Union, pledged their support for his opponent.


In March 1955, when Britain was preparing for Operation Grapple, the testing of its first hydrogen bomb, Aneurin Bevan led a revolt of 57 Labour MPs and abstained on a key vote.


Aneurin Bevan contested the leadership against both Morrison and Labour right-winger Gaitskell, but it was Gaitskell who emerged victorious with more than half of the ballots.


Aneurin Bevan's remark that "I know the right kind of political Leader for the Labour Party is a kind of desiccated calculating machine" was assumed to refer to Gaitskell, although Aneurin Bevan denied it.


Aneurin Bevan failed in a bid to become deputy leader, losing out to Jim Griffiths.


Aneurin Bevan instead stood again for the role of party treasurer and was duly elected, beating George Brown.


Aneurin Bevan was as critical of Nasserist Egypt's seizure of the Suez Canal on 26 July 1956 as he was of the subsequent Anglo-French military response.


Aneurin Bevan compared Gamal Abdel Nasser with Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, from One Thousand and One Nights.


Aneurin Bevan was a vocal critic of the Conservative government's actions in the Suez Crisis, noticeably delivering high-profile speeches at a protest rally in Trafalgar Square on 4 November 1956, and criticising the government's actions and arguments in the Commons on 5 December 1956.


Aneurin Bevan accused the government of a "policy of bankruptcy and despair", stating at the Trafalgar rally:.


Aneurin Bevan was elected unopposed as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in 1959, succeeding Griffiths.


Aneurin Bevan had said "I would rather be kept alive in the efficient if cold altruism of a large hospital than expire in a gush of warm sympathy in a small one".


Aneurin Bevan checked into the Royal Free Hospital in London on 27 December 1959 to undergo surgery for an ulcer, but malignant stomach cancer was discovered instead in a major operation two days later.


Aneurin Bevan died in his sleep at 4.10pm on 6 July 1960, at the age of 62, at his home, Asheridge Farm, Chesham, Buckinghamshire.


Aneurin Bevan's remains were cremated at Gwent Crematorium in Croesyceiliog in a private family ceremony.


Jennie Lee explained in a letter to Michael Foot, who would be elected to Aneurin Bevan's seat in the by-election that ensued following his death, that Aneurin Bevan had specifically chosen to have a non-religious funeral and not a Christian service, because he was a firm humanist.


Aneurin Bevan was a great humanist whose religion lay in loving his fellow men and trying to serve them.


Aneurin Bevan knelt reverently in respect to a friend or friend's faith, but he never pretended to be anything other than what he was, a humanist.


Macmillan noted that despite being a "controversial figure" during his career, Aneurin Bevan's death had seen an outpouring of genuine "admiration and affection".


Aneurin Bevan was particularly noted for his public speaking, being described by Robin Butler, Baron Butler of Brockwell, as "the greatest parliamentary speaker since Charles James Fox".


Clement Attlee expressed his support that Aneurin Bevan should have been the leader of the Labour Party during his lifetime but was held back by his demeanour, stating "he wants to be two things simultaneously, rebel and official leader, and you can't be both".


In 2002, Aneurin Bevan was voted as the 45th greatest Briton of all time by the BBC public opinion poll, 100 Greatest Britons.