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The Right Honourable
 The Lord Morrison of Lambeth 

In office
26 July 1945 – 26 October 1951
Prime Minister Clement Attlee
Preceded by Clement Attlee
Succeeded by Anthony Eden

In office
9 March 1951 – 26 October 1951
Prime Minister Clement Attlee
Preceded by Ernest Bevin
Succeeded by Anthony Eden

In office
4 October 1940 – 23 May 1945
Prime Minister Winston Churchill
Preceded by John Anderson
Succeeded by Donald Somervell

In office
26 July 1945 – 16 March 1951
Preceded by Anthony Eden
Succeeded by James Chuter Ede

Born 3 January 1888 (1888-01-03)
Lambeth, London, UK
Died 6 March 1965 (1965-03-07) (aged 77)
Peckham, South London, UK
Nationality British
Political party Labour

Herbert Stanley Morrison, Baron Morrison of Lambeth, CH, PC (3 January 1888 – 6 March 1965) was a British Labour politician; he held a various number of senior positions in the Cabinet, including Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister.

Morrison was the son of a police constable and was born in Lambeth, London. As a baby he lost the sight in his right eye due to infection. Morrison, like many early Labour leaders, had little in the way of formal education and left school at 14 to become an errand boy. Morrison's early politics were radical, and he briefly flirted with the Social Democratic Federation over the Independent Labour Party (ILP). As a conscientious objector, he worked in a market garden in Letchworth in World War I. Morrison eventually became a pioneer leader in the London Labour Party.

Morrison was elected to the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney in 1919 when the Labour Party won control of the Borough. He was Mayor in 1920-21. Morrison was also elected to the London County Council (LCC) in 1922 and the following year he became MP for South Hackney in the 1923 General Election, but lost that seat the following year when Ramsay MacDonald's first administration lost the general election.

Morrison returned to Parliament in the 1929 general election, and MacDonald appointed him Minister of Transport. Morrison, like many others in the party, was deeply disheartened by MacDonald's national government. Morrison lost his seat again in 1931.

Morrison continued to sit on the London County Council and in 1933 was elected to lead the Labour Group. Unexpectedly, Labour won the 1934 LCC election and Morrison became Leader of the Council. This gave him control of almost all local government services in London. Morrison's main achievement in London included the unification of bus, tram, trolleybus services with the Underground, with the creation of the London Passenger Transport Board (colloquially known as London Transport) in 1933, and creating a 'green belt' around the suburbs. He confronted the Government over its refusal to finance the replacement of Waterloo Bridge, and eventually they agreed to pay 60% of the cost of the new bridge.

Morrison is often credited as saying that he would "build the Tories out of London", ie. build enough council housing to ensure Labour a solid majority of Labour voters, the opposite intent to that attributed to Westminster Council under the leadership of Shirley Porter in the 1980s. Morrison's biographers Donoughue & Jones insist that the quotation is apocryphal.

In the 1935 election Morrison was once again elected to the House of Commons and immediately challenged Clement Attlee for the leadership of the party. He lost badly, a defeat ascribed to his unfamiliarity with the MPs who had served in the previous Parliament. Both he and his supporter Hugh Dalton put some of the blame on the masonic New Welcome Lodge, who they claimed backed the third place leadership candidate Arthur Greenwood and then switched their votes to Attlee.[1] After losing, Morrison concentrated on his LCC work.

In 1940 Morrison was appointed as first Minister of Supply by Winston Churchill, but shortly afterwards succeeded Sir John Anderson as Home Secretary. Morrison's London experience in local government was particularly useful during the Blitz, and the Morrison shelter was named after him. However, Morrison had to take many potentially unpopular and controversial decisions by the nature of wartime circumstances. In 1943, Morrison ran for the post of Treasurer of the Labour Party, but lost a close contest to Arthur Greenwood.[2]

After the end of the war, Morrison was instrumental in drafting the Labour Party's 1945 manifesto Let us Face the Future.[citation needed] He was the organiser of the general election campaign and enlisted the help of left-wing cartoonist Philip Zec with whom he had clashed during the early stages of the war when, as Minister of Supply he took exception to an illustration commenting on the costs of the supplying the country with petrol.[3][4] Labour won a massive and unexpected victory. Morrison was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Commons. In this capacity Morrison was the chief sponsor of the Festival of Britain. After Ernest Bevin's resignation as Foreign Secretary, Morrison took over his role, but did not feel at ease in the Foreign Office. However, Morrison took an aggressive stance against Iran's democratic socialist Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq and approved his overthrow for what would later be known as Operation Ajax.[5] His tenure there was cut short by Labour's defeat in the 1951 general election.

Although Morrison had effectively been Attlee's heir apparent since the 1930s, Attlee had always distrusted him. Attlee remained as Leader through the early 1950s, and fought the 1955 election, finally announcing his retirement after Labour's defeat. Morrison was 67 and was seen to be too old to embark on a new leadership. Although he stood, he finished bottom - by a wide margin - of the three candidates, with many of his supporters switching to Gaitskell. Hugh Gaitskell won the election, and Morrison resigned as Deputy Leader.

Morrison stood down at the 1959 general election and was made a life peer as Baron Morrison of Lambeth, of Lambeth in the County of London. He was appointed President of the British Board of Film Censors.

He died in 1965, symbolically in the same month as the London County Council was abolished. His grandson Peter Mandelson was a cabinet minister in the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. (Interestingly, whilst Morrison had held the post of Deputy Prime Minister, 2009 saw his grandson appointed First Secretary of State, notwithstanding the fact that the titles are sometimes though incorrectly seen as synonymous.)

Morrison was Foreign Secretary at the time of the defection of the double agents Guy Burgess and Donald Duart Maclean. In the 1977 BBC TV play Philby, Burgess and Maclean by Iain Curteis, Arthur Lowe made a cameo appearance as Morrison - glowering to camera in his final shot to show the opaque right lens of his spectacles.


  1. ^ The Masons' Candidate: New Welcome Lodge No. 5139 and the Parliamentary Labour Party, By John Hamill and Andrew Prescott, Labour History Review, Volume 71, Number 1, April 2006 , pp. 9-41(33); this cites as note number 2 H. Morrison, Herbert Morrison: An Autobiography by Lord Morrison of Lambeth, London, Odhams, 1960, p. 164
  2. ^ "Greenwood, Arthur", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  3. ^ Contentious Cartoon by Dr Tim Benson,
  4. ^ Tabloid Nation: The Birth of the Daily Mirror to the Death of the Tabloid, by Chris Horrie, André Deutsch (2003)
  5. ^ Painter, David S. (1988), The United States, Great Britain, and Mossadegh, Georgetown University, ISBN 1-56927-332-4,, retrieved 2009-11-23 

Further reading

Herbert Morrison published his Autobiography in 1960. His other publications included:

  • Socialisation and Transport, 1933;
  • Looking Ahead (wartime speeches), 1933;
  • Parliamentary Government in Britain, 1949.

The main biography is:

  • Herbert Morrison - Portrait of a Politician, by Bernard Donoughue and George Jones. (Reprinted by Orion with an introduction by Peter Mandelson 2001). ISBN 1842124412

Biographical essays include:

  • 'Herbert Morrison' by John P. Mackintosh in the original Dictionary of National Biography (supplement).
  • 'Herbert Morrison' by Greg Rosen in Kevin Jefferys (ed) Labour Forces IB Taurus, 2003.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Clifford Charles Alan Lawrence Erskine-Bolst
Member of Parliament for Hackney South
Succeeded by
George Garro-Jones
Preceded by
George Garro-Jones
Member of Parliament for Hackney South
Succeeded by
Marjorie Graves
Preceded by
Marjorie Graves
Member of Parliament for Hackney South
Succeeded by
Herbert William Butler
Preceded by
Sir Assheton Pownall
Member of Parliament for Lewisham East
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Lewisham South
Succeeded by
Carol Johnson
Political offices
Preceded by
George Lansbury
Chair of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Susan Lawrence
Preceded by
Wilfrid Ashley
Minister of Transport
Succeeded by
James Pybus
Preceded by
Sir William Ray
Leader of the London County Council
Succeeded by
Lord Latham
Preceded by
Leslie Burgin
Minister of Supply
Succeeded by
Andrew Duncan
Preceded by
Sir John Anderson
Home Secretary
Succeeded by
Sir Donald Bradley Somervell
Preceded by
Arthur Greenwood
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Jim Griffiths
Preceded by
Lord Woolton
Lord President of the Council
Succeeded by
Viscount Addison
Preceded by
Anthony Eden
Leader of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
James Chuter Ede
Preceded by
Clement Attlee
Deputy Prime Minister
Succeeded by
Sir Anthony Eden
Preceded by
Ernest Bevin
Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
Sir Anthony Eden
Media offices
Preceded by
Sidney Harris
President of the British Board of Film Censors
Succeeded by
David Ormsby-Gore


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Herbert Stanley Morrison, Baron Morrison of Lambeth, CH PC (3 January 18886 March 1965) was a British Labour Party politician and Cabinet minister. He led the Labour Party to control the London County Council from 1934. In the wartime coalition and postwar Attlee government, Morrison held various cabinet posts, including Foreign Secretary, Deputy Prime Minister and w:Home Secretary. Morrison was very close to attaining the leadership of the party at various points in his career, but Clement Attlee distrusted him and deliberately prolonged his own leadership in order to prevent him from winning.



  • Some of you would prefer a Tory Government. We know our enemies. I have come across a coalition of Conservatives and Communists before. Tories have a very warm place in their hearts for Communists and so have the Communists for the Tories.
    • The Times, 4 November 1930, quoted in Bernard Donoughue and George Jones, "Herbert Morrison: Portrait of a Politician" (Phoenix Press, 2001), p. 236.
  • The good Socialist works with religious zeal for the redemption of mankind from the evils of poverty and ignorance. ... He is conscious of the beauty of the ideal ... he works on ... for the deliverance of the human spirit from the enslavement of material things.
    • Manchester Guardian, 2 July 1934, quoted in Bernard Donoughue and George Jones, "Herbert Morrison: Portrait of a Politician" (Phoenix Press, 2001), p. 184.
  • The bridge was not of such great importance or social significance, but it was symbolical that Labour was capable of decision, that the machinery of democratic public administration would work if the men and women in charge were determined that it should work.
    • The Times, 10 December 1934.
    • Explaining his decision to personally begin the dismantling of the old Waterloo Bridge; the government had refused to allow the council to build a replacement so Morrison and his allies forced the issue by breaking up the existing bridge.
  • Our own British Communist Party – if it is our own and British – might at any time suffer a change of heart and go back to bloody revolution. For all I know it may there already, underground. Anything is possible for a party which at one and the same time shouts for a United Front and puts up candidates against us with a view to splitting the Labour vote. All this is alien to our honest, straightforward, native, Socialist thought. ... But you can't all the time say 'No, No, No' to the Communists. The real answer to the Communists is a positive answer. We have to show more vigorous fighting enthusiasm, more faith, more sense of high adventure.
    • Peter Howard, "Men on Trial" (Blandford Press, 1945), p. 37-8
    • Speech in December 1944
  • It is because I have confidence in the reasoned appeal the Socialist Party can make to all sections of the community – manual workers and black coats alike – that I have decided to go to East Lewisham, if I am selected, emphasizing by this action my conviction that the soundest socialist appeal is that which is most universal in its scope.
    • The Times, 10 January 1945.
    • Morrison abandoned his safe seat in Hackney South for Lewisham East in the 1945 general election despite it being a Conservative-held seat that had never previously returned a Labour MP. The move paid off, and he was elected there.


  • Socialism is what a Labour government does.
    • An example of this attribution is Peter Riddell, "We believed you, Tony, but what comes next?", The Times, 14 January 2002, p. 16.


  • Of all the colleagues I have lost, he is the one I am least sorry to see the last of. I hope that Lewisham will throw the intruder out. He only came here because he ran away from a communist.
    • Daily Express, 5 July 1945.
    • Winston Churchill supporting Morrison's opponent in the 1945 general election.


  • We are going to build the Tories out of London.
    • An example of this quote being attributed to Morrison is Leo McKinstry, "Labour is stealing your country", The Spectator, 24 July 2004, p. 20.
    • Allegedly said in the 1930s while Leader of the London County Council, outlining a supposed Morrison policy of building LCC estates in Conservative-voting areas in order to shift elections towards the Labour Party. No source has been found and quote has not been traced earlier than the early 1960s. The Local Government Chronicle once offered a prize to anyone who could find proof that Morrison had said it; the prize remains unclaimed. Morrison's LCC built substantial numbers of homes but a large number of them were outside the County of London entirely.

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