Cripps, Sir (Richard) Stafford, 1889-1952

A nephew of Beatrice Webb and son of one of the first Labour Party peers, Cripps followed his father into Labour political life which he combined with an immensely successful legal career. Refusing to follow Ramsay Macdonald whom he served as Solicitor-General, into coalition in 1931, he became associated with Labour’s left wing. Strongly pacifist in the early 1930s, he became a leading opponent of appeasement, adopted a ‘Popular Front’ position and was expelled from the Labour Party in 1939. The coalition government nevertheless made extensive use of his services, first in 1940 as Ambassador to Moscow where it was believed his leftwing views would give him greater influence than a career diplomat could command, then in 1942 as emissary to Indian nationalists whom he tried to win to a policy of wartime co-operation with an offer of postwar independence, and finally in November 1942 as Minister of aircraft production. Though CHURCHILL, like many others, found his coldness and self-possession deeply antipathetic, he readily recognized his remarkable intellectual and administrative qualities.

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