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Aneurin Bevan

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Aneurin Bevan (; Welsh: [aˈnəɨ.rɪn]; 15 November 1897 – 6 July 1960), often known as Nye Bevan, was a Welsh Labour Party politician. Born into a working-class family in south Wales, he was the son of a coal miner. He left school at 13 and worked as a miner during his teens where he became involved in local union politics. He was named head of his Miner’s Lodge when aged 19, where he frequently railed against management. He joined the Labour Party and attended Central Labour College in London. On his return to south Wales he struggled to find work, remaining unemployed for nearly three years before gaining employment as a union official, which led to him becoming a leading figure in the 1926 general strike.
In 1928, Bevan won a seat on Monmouthshire County Council and was elected as the MP for Ebbw Vale the following year. In Parliament, he became a vocal critic of numerous other politicians from all parties, including Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George. His criticisms of Churchill and the Conservative government during the Second World War raised him to national prominence. After the war, Bevan was chosen as the Minister of Health in Clement Attlee’s new Labour government, becoming the youngest member of the cabinet at 47, with his remit also including housing. Inspired by the Tredegar Medical Aid Society in his hometown, Bevan led the establishment of the National Health Service to provide medical care free at point-of-need to all Britons, regardless of wealth. Despite opposition from both his own and opposition parties as well as the British Medical Association, the National Health Service Act 1946 was passed, nationalising more than 2,500 hospitals within the UK.
Bevan was named Minister of Labour in 1951, but resigned after two months in office, when the Attlee government proposed the introduction of prescription charges for dental and vision care and decided to transfer funds from the National Insurance Fund to pay for rearmament. His influence waned after his departure, although a left-wing group (not under his control) within the party became known as “Bevanites”. When Attlee retired in 1955, Bevan unsuccessfully contested the party leadership with Hugh Gaitskell, but was appointed Shadow Colonial Secretary and later Shadow Foreign Secretary. In 1959, he was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and held the post for a year until his death from stomach cancer at the age of 62.
Bevan’s death in 1960 led to “an outpouring of national mourning”. In 2004, more than forty-four years after his death, he was voted first in a list of 100 Welsh Heroes, having been credited for his contribution to the founding of the welfare state in the UK.