Harold Macmillan

Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, OM, PC, FRS (10 February 1894 – 29 December 1986) was a British Conservative statesman and politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1957 to 1963.[1] Caricatured as "Supermac", he was known for his pragmatism, wit and unflappability.

The Earl of Stockton
Official portrait, 1959
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
10 January 1957  18 October 1963
MonarchElizabeth II
DeputyRab Butler (1962–63)
Preceded byAnthony Eden
Succeeded byAlec Douglas-Home
Leader of the Conservative Party
In office
10 January 1957  18 October 1963
ChairmanThe Lord Poole
The Viscount Hailsham
Rab Butler
Iain Macleod
Preceded byAnthony Eden
Succeeded byAlec Douglas-Home
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office
20 December 1955  13 January 1957
Prime MinisterAnthony Eden
Preceded byRab Butler
Succeeded byPeter Thorneycroft
Foreign Secretary
In office
7 April 1955  20 December 1955
Prime MinisterAnthony Eden
Preceded byAnthony Eden
Succeeded bySelwyn Lloyd
Minister of Defence
In office
19 October 1954  7 April 1955
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byThe Earl Alexander of Tunis
Succeeded bySelwyn Lloyd
Minister of Housing and Local Government
In office
30 October 1951  19 October 1954
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byHugh Dalton
Succeeded byDuncan Sandys
Secretary of State for Air
In office
25 May 1945  26 July 1945
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byArchibald Sinclair
Succeeded byThe Viscount Stansgate
Minister Resident in Northwest Africa
In office
30 December 1942  25 May 1945
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byHarold Balfour
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
4 February 1942  30 December 1942
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byGeorge Hall
Succeeded byThe Duke of Devonshire
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply
In office
15 May 1940  4 February 1942
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byJohn Llewellin
Succeeded byThe Viscount Portal
Member of the House of Lords
Hereditary peerage
24 February 1984  29 December 1986
Succeeded byThe 2nd Earl of Stockton
Member of Parliament
for Bromley
In office
14 November 1945  25 September 1964
Preceded byEdward Campbell
Succeeded byJohn Hunt
Member of Parliament
for Stockton-on-Tees
In office
28 October 1931  15 June 1945
Preceded byFrederick Fox Riley
Succeeded byGeorge Chetwynd
In office
30 October 1924  10 May 1929
Preceded byRobert Strother Stewart
Succeeded byFrederick Fox Riley
Chancellor of the University of Oxford
In office
3 March 1960  18 December 1986
Preceded byEdward Wood
Succeeded byRoy Jenkins
Personal details
Born
Maurice Harold Macmillan

(1894-02-10)10 February 1894
London, England
Died29 December 1986(1986-12-29) (aged 92)
Chelwood Gate, East Sussex, England
Resting placeSt Giles' Church, Horsted Keynes, West Sussex, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)
(m. 1920; died 1966)
Children4, including Maurice and Caroline
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford
Occupation
Civilian awards
Military service
Branch/serviceBritish Army
Years of service1914–1920
RankCaptain
UnitGrenadier Guards
Battles/wars
Military awards

Macmillan was badly injured as an infantry officer during the First World War. He suffered pain and partial immobility for the rest of his life. After the war he joined his family book-publishing business, then entered Parliament at the 1924 general election. Losing his seat in 1929, he regained it in 1931, soon after which he spoke out against the high rate of unemployment in Stockton-on-Tees. He opposed the appeasement of Germany practised by the Conservative government. He rose to high office during the Second World War as a protégé of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In the 1950s Macmillan served as Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer under Anthony Eden.

When Eden resigned in 1957 following the Suez Crisis, Macmillan succeeded him as prime minister and Leader of the Conservative Party. He was a One Nation Tory of the Disraelian tradition and supported the post-war consensus. He supported the welfare state and the necessity of a mixed economy with some nationalised industries and strong trade unions. He championed a Keynesian strategy of deficit spending to maintain demand and pursuit of corporatist policies to develop the domestic market as the engine of growth. Benefiting from favourable international conditions,[2] he presided over an age of affluence, marked by low unemployment and high—if uneven—growth. In his speech of July 1957 he told the nation it had 'never had it so good',[3] but warned of the dangers of inflation, summing up the fragile prosperity of the 1950s.[4] He led the Conservatives to success in 1959 with an increased majority.

In international affairs, Macmillan worked to rebuild the Special Relationship with the United States from the wreckage of the 1956 Suez Crisis (of which he had been one of the architects), and facilitated the decolonisation of Africa. Reconfiguring the nation's defences to meet the realities of the nuclear age, he ended National Service, strengthened the nuclear forces by acquiring Polaris, and pioneered the Nuclear Test Ban with the United States and the Soviet Union. After the Skybolt Crisis undermined the Anglo-American strategic relationship, he sought a more active role for Britain in Europe, but his unwillingness to disclose United States nuclear secrets to France contributed to a French veto of the United Kingdom's entry into the European Economic Community.[5] Near the end of his premiership, his government was rocked by the Vassall and Profumo scandals, which to cultural conservatives and supporters of opposing parties alike seemed to symbolise moral decay of the British establishment.[6] Following his resignation, Macmillan lived out a long retirement as an elder statesman. He was as trenchant a critic of his successors in his old age as he had been of his predecessors in his youth. In 1986, he died at the age of 92.

Macmillan was the last British prime minister born during the Victorian era, the last to have served in the First World War and the last to receive a hereditary peerage, although Denis Thatcher, husband of prime minister Margaret Thatcher, received a baronetcy shortly after her resignation.


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