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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
Harold Macmillan

(1894–1986, earl of Stockton 1984)
Conservative politician, MP for Stockton-on-Tees (1924–9, 1931–45) and for Bromley (1945–64), foreign secretary 1955, chancellor of the exchequer 1955-7, prime minister 1957–63. An outspoken opponent of *appeasement in the 1930s, he was given his first government post by *Churchill in 1940, in the Ministry of Supply. In 1942 he was sent as minister to the Allied Mediterranean Command, and so for three years he was involved in the political side of the campaigns in Africa, Italy and Greece. It was a job in which he found himself dealing with two men who were to share the world stage with him in the late 1950s, Eisenhower and de Gaulle.

He was in the cabinet from 1951, when the Conservatives returned to power, and as chancellor he introduced *premium bonds in 1956. When Eden resigned after the *Suez crisis, Macmillan had overwhelming support in the party as his successor. His focus as premier was very much on foreign affairs. With two US presidents (Eisenhower an old friend and Kennedy a new one) he repaired the rift created by Suez and secured for Britain cooperation on issues of nuclear defence and a supply of Polaris missiles.

After early successes at home as well as abroad (he acquired the nickname Supermac), his party was returned with an increased majority in 1959. The later years of his administration were clouded by economic troubles, the EC veto and the *Profumo scandal. But it was illness which caused him to resign in 1963. He took an active part in ensuring that he was followed by Lord *Home rather than Rab *Butler.

His manner, that of a bumbling Edwardian amateur, masked a ruthlessness which was evident in the *night of the long knives. It was also the vehicle for a sleepy-seeming but sharp wit which made him an excellent orator – a skill still evident in his extreme old age when, in a long and impromptu-seeming speech on the first day that the House of Lords was televised (Jan. 1985), he attacked Mrs Thatcher, the great privatizer, for not knowing the difference between capital and income.

Paradoxically his success with the USA jeopardized his efforts to get Britain into the European Economic Community – for it was one of the reasons why de Gaulle, who wanted a Europe free of transatlantic links, vetoed in 1963 Britain's application to join. In two major tours of the Commonwealth (1958 and 1960) Macmillan emphasized the need to abandon colonial concepts, coining his best-known phrase when he told the South African Houses of Parliament in 1960 that 'the wind of change is blowing through this continent'.

Many of his acquaintances, he said, had made the same mistake; the nicest of fellows, but they had mostly ended up in dreary lodging houses. (The 'family silver' speech was a different occasion – see *privatization.) However, the credit he is often given for his mock-populist phrase of 1957 ('most of our people have never had it so good') is undeserved; 'You never had it so good' was the election slogan of the Democrats in the USA five years earlier.

Another important strand in his life was publishing, for he was closely involved in the firm of Macmillan, established by his grandfather Daniel Macmillan (1813–57).

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