Oliver Stanley

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The Right Honourable
Oliver Stanley
MC
Oliver Stanley 1941.jpg
President of the Board of Trade
In office
28 May 1937 – 5 January 1940
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by Walter Runciman
Succeeded by Sir Andrew Duncan
Secretary of State for War
In office
5 January 1940 – 11 May 1940
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by Leslie Hore-Belisha
Succeeded by Anthony Eden
Secretary of State for the Colonies
In office
22 November 1942 – 26 July 1945
Monarch George VI
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Preceded by Viscount Cranborne
Succeeded by George Hall
Personal details
Born 4 May 1896 (1896-05-04)
Died 10 December 1950 (1950-12-11) (aged 54)
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Lady Maureen Vane-Tempest-Stewart (1900-1942)

Oliver Frederick George Stanley MC, PC (4 May 1896 – 10 December 1950) was a prominent British Conservative politician who held many ministerial posts before his relatively early death.

Background and education[edit]

Stanley was the second son of Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, by his wife Lady Alice, daughter of William Montagu, 7th Duke of Manchester. Edward Stanley, Lord Stanley was his elder brother. He was educated at Eton.

Military career[edit]

Stanley was commissioned into the Lancashire Hussars in the First World War, serving for part of it attached to the Royal Artillery, reaching the rank of captain, and winning the Military Cross.

Political career[edit]

Sketch of Stanley commissioned by the Ministry of Information in the World War II period.

Stanley then entered the legal profession, but in the 1924 general election he was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Westmorland. From 1945 he sat for Bristol West. He soon came to the attention of the Conservative leaders and held a number of posts in the National Government of the 1930s. As Minister of Transport he was responsible for the introduction of a 30 miles per hour speed limit and driving tests for new drivers. In May 1938 whilst President of the Board of Trade he achieved a rare distinction in British politics when his brother Lord Stanley became Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs - a rare example of two brothers sitting in the same Cabinet, more so as their father, a former Conservative minister, was still alive. However five months later Edward died. (Another example is David Miliband and his brother Ed Miliband who were appointed to the British Cabinet in June 2007.)

In January 1940 Stanley was appointed Secretary of State for War after the previous incumbent, Leslie Hore-Belisha, had been sacked after falling out with the leading officers. Much was expected of Stanley's tenure in this office, as his father had held it during the First World War, but four months later the government fell and Stanley was not initially given a new post in the administration of Winston Churchill. Two years later Stanley's fortunes revived when Churchill appointed him Secretary of State for the Colonies, a post which he held until the end of the war. After the Conservatives' massive defeat in the 1945 general election Stanley was prominent amongst those rebuilding the party and he came to be regarded as one of the most important Conservative MPs. Also during this period he succeeded his father as Chancellor of the University of Liverpool. By this time, however, his health was in decline and he died in December 1950.

Many believe[who?] that had Stanley lived longer he would have been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Conservatives formed a government the following year. Historian Sir Charles Petrie went further, and insisted in his 1972 memoirs (A Historian Looks At His World) that "the greatest blow the Conservative Party has sustained since the late war was the premature death of Oliver Stanley. He was one of the most gifted men of the century, and would have made a very great Prime Minister. ... He was as brilliant a conversationalist as a public speaker."

Family[edit]

Stanley married Lady Maureen, daughter of Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry and the Hon. Edith Chaplin, in 1920. They had one son and one daughter: (i) Michael Charles Stanley (1921–1990), who married (Aileen) Fortune Constance Hugh Smith and had two sons; and (ii) Kathryn Edith Helen Stanley DCVO (1923–2004), Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth II from 1955 to 2002 and who married Sir John Dugdale KCVO (1923–1994) and had two daughters and two sons, one of whom, Henry Dugdale (b. 1963) is married to Litia Mara Dugdale.

Lady Maureen died in June 1942, aged 41. Stanley survived her by eight years and died in December 1950, aged 54.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Wakefield Weston
Member of Parliament for Westmorland
19241945
Succeeded by
William Fletcher-Vane
Preceded by
Cyril Thomas Culverwell
Member of Parliament for Bristol West
19451950
Succeeded by
Walter Monckton
Political offices
Preceded by
John Pybus
Minister of Transport
1933–1934
Succeeded by
Leslie Hore-Belisha
Preceded by
Henry Betterton
Minister of Labour
1934–1935
Succeeded by
Ernest Brown
Preceded by
Walter Runciman
President of the Board of Trade
1937–1940
Succeeded by
Andrew Duncan
Preceded by
The Viscount Halifax
President of the Board of Education
1935–1937
Succeeded by
The Earl Stanhope
Preceded by
Leslie Hore-Belisha
Secretary of State for War
1940
Succeeded by
Anthony Eden
Preceded by
Viscount Cranborne
Secretary of State for the Colonies
1942–1945
Succeeded by
George Hall