Biography of Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947)

British politician, born in Bewdley (Worcestershire) on August 3, 1867 and died at Astley Hall (near Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire) on December 14, 1947.

Biographical synthesis

Member of the conservative party, was Prime Minister three times, from 1923 to 1924, 1924-1929 and 1935 to 1937, all in the interwar period. He/She had to face the difficult economic situation at the time, the growing threat of totalitarianism and the abdication of Eduardo VIII.

The "Baldwin era": British Prime Minister in the 1920s

Only son of steel industrialist was the Alfred Baldwin, cousin of writer Rudyard Kipling and relative of the painter Edward Burne-Jones. He/She studied at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he/she graduated in philosophy and letters in 1892. The following years he/she dedicated them to the address of the family business E.P. & W. Baldwin (Baldwins Ltd.), until in 1908 was elected member of the British Parliament for Bewdley, within the conservative party. Since 1916 was Secretary private conservative politician Andrew Bonar Law, and in the coalition Government of the liberal David Lloyd George (1916-1922) had economic responsibilities, the most important of Minister of Commerce (since 1921). In 1919 he/she gave much of his fortune (150,000 pounds, 20% of it) as aid to pay the British debt with the United States since the first world war. He/She went to his party when it withdrew its support to Lloyd George in 1922, causing its fall. Instead named Bonar Law, was during this mandate (1922-1923) Chancellor of the Exchequer ('Finance Minister'). As such he/she managed to finally pay off the debts of war, traveling to Washington in January 1923.

To resign Bonar Law by health problems, Baldwin was appointed Prime Minister in his place (May 22, 1923), and also head of the Conservative Party (May 28). Met with rising unemployment and crisis in the industry. In November held new elections, remaining Baldwin in power to get your party simple majority. However, shortly afterwards, on January 22, 1924, he/she had to renounce it because of the debate on taxation or tariffs. At the end of the year, on 4 November, he/she was consulted about the possibility of leading a second Government, which he/she accepted. It was a policy of social welfare in order to strengthen the unity of the country. In 1925 he/she took part in the crisis of the coal mining, giving a subsidy from nine months to miners to compensate the reduction of his salary, and creating a Commission headed by Herbert Samuel to seek solutions.

When in 1926, the Commission published a report recommending the lowering of wages and the granting of a subsidy that is limited, the Trade Union Congress ('Trade Union Congress', TUC), headed by Jimmy Thomas, it called for a general strike affecting 3 million workers (one-fifth of the total). Baldwin proclaimed the State of emergency and ordered to Samuel that would meet with the TUC and propose a series of measures favourable to the miners, but without abandoning the intention of lower wages. The TUC accepted them, but not the miners themselves, although the strike was finally desconvocada. These measures were supplemented by a law passed by the House of Commons on June 21 that reduced to eight hours the working hours of the miners, and meanwhile mining companies announcing new conditions of employment. In 1927 Baldwin enacted against unions the Trade Disputes and Trade Union Act ('trade disputes and trade unions Act'), which regulated strikes, ensured the freedom of members to support unions or not a strike, prohibiting coercive picketing and officials joining unions.

On International Affairs, in 1925 it had given carte blanche to his Foreign Minister, Austen Chamberlain, for the negotiations of the Locarno treaties, which were to ensure peace in Europe. It also approved in 1926 the creation of the British Commonwealth of Nations ('community British of Nations'), although officially this was not born until the signing of the Statute of Westminster of 1931. In July 1928, it extended the right to vote to women over the age of 21 years. Rising unemployment and his showdown with the unions made that in the general election of May 1929 the Conservative Party was surprisingly exceeded by the labour. To be able to continue ruling, Baldwin would have had to negotiate with the Liberal Party, which rejected abandoning his position on 5 June.

The last mandate of the Baldwin: towards the second world war

Initially it nor agreed to become part of a coalition Government headed by James Ramsay MacDonaldlabour, but in 1931 he/she accepted the Presidency of the Council, promoting the signing of the protectionist Ottawa agreements in 1932 (which forced out of the Government several liberal ministers). Following the resignation of MacDonald in 1935, King Jorge V commissioned him to form his third Government on 7 June awaiting that this was confirmed by a new general election. In these, the Conservative Party won a huge majority (522 seats, 52 of the Labour Party and the Liberals 36). This same year he/she managed to avoid the division in the conservative party, faced by a controversial law on the India.

However, Baldwin failed to react strongly to the growing aggressiveness of the nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler and the Fascist Italy of Benito Mussolini; the first reoccupied the Rhineland and the second conquered Ethiopia (1936); He/She himself had provided Italian imperialism in approving the signature of the Hoare-Laval Pact, that forced Ethiopia to give up part of its territory to Italy in 1935. Also, fearful of the advance of communism in Europe, it pressured the French Prime Minister Léon Blum to no help to the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, promoted an agreement of non-intervention which signed 27 countries (including the Soviet Union, Germany and Italy, which unofficially helped akin to each side), and hindered the enlistment of volunteers in the international brigades. In general, criticized you not properly prepare Britain for the war approaching, initiating the reset belatedly, and was also responsible for the prolongation of the bad economic situation since the Crisis of 1929.

He played a major role in the crisis caused by the decision of the King Eduardo VIII of contracting marriage with Wallis Warfield Simpson, a divorced American, what he/she and much of the English society was opposed; He/She finally obtained the abdication of the monarch on December 11, 1936, which was succeeded by his brother Jorge VI. In May 1937 Arthur Neville Chamberlain appointed to take his place and day 28 withdrew the charge and the policy. A few days later he/she was appointed Knight of the order of the garter and, on 8 June, it was titled Earl Baldwin of Bewdley and Viscount Coverdale Coverdale. Died ten years later, aged 80. Despite numerous criticisms of his work, he/she had a great ability for the performance of their functions as a statesman.


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WILLIAMSON, Ph. Stanley Baldwin. Conservative Leadership and National Values. (Cambridge, University Press: 1999).

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