Stafford Cripps, Prophetic Rebel

Stafford Cripps, Prophetic Rebel

Stafford Cripps, Prophetic Rebel

Stafford Cripps, Prophetic Rebel

Excerpt

IT MAY SEEM SURPRISING, at first sight, that a wealthy and titled gentleman of the ruling class, with a fine old eighteenth-century name, should be a leading figure in the English working class movement. Indeed, the connection of such an aristocrat with the working class movement at all -- leaving aside for a moment his evidently significant position -- requires no little exploration. Such a phenomenon, however, is much less remarkable than might be expected.

In England it is not at all unusual for scions of the aristocracy to place themselves at the head of resurgent movements of the working class. The leaders of the Levellers and the Diggers, revolutionary sects which flourished for a time as the left wing of Cromwell's army, were for the most part sons of the minor nobility. The Labour party at present is represented in the House of Lords by peers who inherited their seats, as well as by those created under the Labour governments of 1923 and 1929. The first of these political aberrations (or so they must have seemed) can be accounted for in terms of religious equalitarianism. The second repiesents an instance of the operations of the liberal conscience, whose convolutions can be clearly traced by an examination of the family background of Sir Stafford Cripps.

Sir Stafford himself tells us, somewhat inaccurately, that he sprang from "a traditional, conservative middle-class family." It is true that the Cripps-Potter family were not aristocrats; they had no hereditary titles and were not, like the Woods (Halifax) . . .

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