John Strachey (politician)
|The Right Honourable
|Secretary of State for War|
28 February 1950 – 26 October 1951
|Prime Minister||Clement Attlee|
|Preceded by||Manny Shinwell|
|Succeeded by||Anthony Head|
|Born||21 October 1901
|Died||15 July 1963 (aged 61)
|Alma mater||Magdalen College, Oxford|
Background and education
Born in Guildford, Surrey, the son of John Strachey, editor of The Spectator, he was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford. At Oxford he was editor, with his close friend Robert Boothby, of the Oxford Fortnightly Review. Strachey's Oxford career was interrupted by ill-health – peritonitis – and he left after two years in 1922 without taking a degree. He later joined The Spectator.
Strachey joined the Labour Party in 1923 and was editor of the Socialist Review and The Miner. He unsuccessfully contested the Aston division of Birmingham in 1924. He was elected as Member of Parliament for Birmingham Aston in 1929, serving to 1931. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Oswald Mosley. He resigned from the Parliamentary Labour Party in 1931 for Mosley's New Party. Following the New Party's drift towards fascism he resigned to become a supporter of the Communist Party, contesting the Aston constituency as an independent.
Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF) organized a large rally at the Olympia hall in London in June 1934. A counter-demonstration was organized, and the rally turned into a fight in which many were injured. A Committee for Coordinating Anti-Fascist Activities was formed, with Strachey as secretary, sponsored by the World Committee Against War and Fascism (Amsterdam-Pleyel). When the BUF staged another demonstration of 3,000 Fascists in Hyde Park, London on 9 September 1934, Strachey's committee organized a major counter-demonstration by 20,000 anti-Fascists.
Strachey assisted the publisher Victor Gollancz in founding the Left Book Club in 1936. As the author of The Coming Struggle for Power (1932), and a series of other significant works, Strachey was one of the most prolific and widely read British Marxist-Leninist theorists of the 1930s. He criticised the economics of John Maynard Keynes from a Marxist perspective before himself becoming a Keynesian. He helped launch the Popular Front in December 1936.
Strachey became increasing unhappy with the Communist movement following the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and the Soviet Invasion of Finland. In a letter to the New Statesman Strachey claimed the Communists "are prepared, for the sake of the..Soviet Union,to give way to Hitler to any extent, and they are utterly irresponsible as to the consequences to the British people of such unlimited giving away. So long as that remains the case I...can have nothing to do with them." He broke with the CPGB in 1940 and joined the Royal Air Force in which he served as a Squadron Leader with a temporary commission. He was posted to the Air Ministry as a public relations officer in the Directorate of Bombing Operations and made a reputation as an air commentator for the BBC, making official broadcasts about the men of RAF Bomber Command.
Returning to the Labour Party, he was chosen to be the Labour candidate for Dundee in 1943 and was again elected to Parliament, serving from 1945 to 1963. He served as Under-Secretary of State for Air in 1945 and is widely credited as having been responsible for ignoring Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris and, by implication, Bomber Command from the Victory Honours List. This may have been retaliation for Harris' request to have Strachey removed from his wartime post within the Directorate of Bombing Operations due to Strachey's changeable political persuasions, a request that was not successful as Strachey remained in the post until the end of the war.
Having a reputation as a confidently facile speaker and being ultra-efficient, he was appointed as Minister of Food in 1946. As such, he was involved in the abortive Tanganyika groundnut scheme. He became a Privy Counsellor in 1946. On the division of the Dundee constituency, he was elected as Labour MP for Dundee West in 1950, holding the seat until his death in 1963. He was Secretary of State for War, 1950–51. He supported Hugh Gaitskell as successor to Clement Attlee in 1955. In the 1950s Strachey devoted much of his time to writing studies of British society from a social democratic viewpoint.
His second marriage, in 1933, was to Celia Simpson. The marriage produced two recorded children: one son and one daughter.
- Revolution by Reason (1925)
- Workers' Control in the Russian Mining Industry, (1928)
- The Coming Struggle for Power (1932)
- Unstable Money, John Day (1933)
- The Menace of Fascism (1933)
- The Nature of Capitalist Crisis (1935)
- The Theory and Practice of Socialism (1936)
- What Are We to Do? (1938)
- Why You Should be a Socialist (1938)
- A Programme for Progress (1940)
- A Faith to Fight For (1941)
- Post D (1941/1942)
- Arise to Conquer (1944)
- Labour's task (1951)
- Contemporary Capitalism (1956)
- The End of Empire (1959)
- The pursuit of peace (1960)
- On the Prevention of War (1962)
- The Strangled Cry (1962)
- "The Challenge of Democracy" (1963)
- "Speed-up in Fishing Grants". Aberdeen Journal. 31 May 1946. Retrieved 1 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (. ))
- Ceplair 1987, p. 163.
- Ceplair 1987, p. 164.
- Macintyre 1972.
- Markwell 2006.
- The Liberal Party and the Popular Front, English Historical Review (2006)
- Michael Newman,John Strachey. Manchester, UK; New York: Manchester University Press. USA ISBN 071902174X. pp. 80-81.
- Falconer 1998.
- David Widgery, The Left In Britain. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976. p.135. ISBN 0140550992
- International Who's Who, 1945–1946 ("Strachey, Evelyn John St. Loe, M.P.")
- Ceplair, Larry (1987). Under the Shadow of War: Fascism, Anti-Fascism, and Marxists, 1918-1939. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-06532-0. Retrieved 2015-03-06.
- Falconer, Jonathon (1998). The Bomber Command Handbook 1939–1945. Stroud: Sutton Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7509-1819-5.
- Macintyre, Stuart (1972), John Strachey, 1901–1931: The development of an English Marxist, MA thesis, Monash University
- Markwell, Donald (2006). John Maynard Keynes and International Relations: Economic Paths to War and Peace. Oxford University Press.
- Ronald L. Meek, "Economics for the Age of Oligopoly: Mr. Strachey's Economics," The New Reasoner, whole no. 8 (Spring 1959), pp. 41-57.
- Reg Groves 'John Strachey', International Socialism, 62 (1973).
- Works by or about John Strachey in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by John Strachey
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Aston
|Member of Parliament for Dundee
With: Thomas Cook
|New constituency||Member of Parliament for Dundee West
Hon. Quintin Hogg
The Earl Beatty
|Under-Secretary of State for Air
Geoffrey de Freitas
|Minister of Food
|Secretary of State for War