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Britain’s Iron Chancellor (Hardback)

An Autobiography

P&S History > Social Science & Culture > Politics

Edited by Alexander Clifford
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 32 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399024952
Published: 30th August 2024


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PHILIP SNOWDEN was a proud Yorkshireman, a founding father of the Labour Party, its first Chancellor of the Exchequer and eventually was seen as a traitor by the movement he did so much to build. Growing up in the poverty of a weaving village in the Pennines, Snowden was paralysed in his twenties but overcame his disability by teaching himself to walk again with the aid of two sticks. He came to socialism in the 1890s and helped build Labour from a fringe sect into a governing party. Snowden was Labour’s undisputed economic expert for decades and served as chancellor three times in the 1920s and 30s. He would be expelled from the party for joining Ramsay MacDonald’s controversial National Government in 1931 and has been condemned as a turncoat ever since. A gifted orator, Snowden was regarded as the archetypal Yorkshireman; strong-willed and straight-talking, caustic and biting in his criticism but warm in friendship. He earned the moniker ‘Iron Chancellor’ after doggedly standing up to the French during tense negotiations, with one Paris journal bawling, “There is only one thing left – we must occupy Yorkshire!” Snowden’s infamous 1931 election broadcast, in which he condemned Labour’s programme as “Bolshevism run mad”, played a major role in the National Government winning the biggest landslide in British electoral history.

In 1934, Snowden wrote his autobiography. It is one of the most readable memoirs of the period, packed with Snowden’s characteristic wit and sarcasm. Snowden’s portrait of his youth in the rural Yorkshire of the 1870s is a unique window into a lost world, while his narrative of the pioneering days of the Labour movement is passionate and vivid. In describing his long career in parliament and government from 1906-1932, the great men of the age jump off the page as we encounter Asquith, Lloyd George, Churchill, Baldwin and MacDonald among others in this tumultuous period of British history. Snowden’s story is both an absorbing account of a fascinating time and an invaluable source for students and scholars.

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About Alexander Clifford

Alexander Clifford is a historian who has studied at the universities of Leeds, Munich and Northumbria, and is an expert on Europe in the interwar period and has made a particular study of the Spanish Civil War. His previous publications include The People’s Army in the Spanish Civil War: A Military History of the Republic and International Brigades 1936-1939 and Fighting for Spain: The International Brigades in the Civil War 1936-1939.

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