Stafford Cripps

British politician (1889-1952)

Sir Richard Stafford Cripps (24 April 188921 April 1952) was a British Labour Party politician, barrister, and diplomat. He served as British Ambassador to the Soviet Union at the beginning of World War II, and later joined Prime Minister Winston Churchill's war cabinet. He later served as President of the Board of Trade and Chancellor of the Exchequer under Prime Minister Clement Attlee.

It must be the duty of the next Labour Government in power to make an immediate challenge to the capitalist system and take the banks and the land into the custody of the people.

Quotes edit

Backbench MP edit

  • Unless during the first five years so great a degree of change has been accomplished as to deprive Capitalism of its power, it is unlikely that a Socialist Party will be able to maintain its position of control without adopting some exceptional means, such as the prolongation of the life of Parliament for a further term without an election.
    • Can Socialism come by Constitutional Methods? (1933), p. 2, quoted in Hugh Dalton, The Fateful Years. Memoirs 1931-1945 (1957), p. 151
  • The [Labour] Government's first step will be to call Parliament together at the earliest moment and place before it an Emergency Powers Bill to be passed through in all its stages on the first day. This Bill will be wide enough in its terms to allow all that will be immediately necessary to be done by ministerial orders. These orders must be incapable of challenge in the Courts or in any way except in the House of Commons.
    • Can Socialism come by Constitutional Methods? (1933), p. 4, quoted in Hugh Dalton, The Fateful Years. Memoirs 1931-1945 (1957), p. 151
  • In 1919 we pledged our honour as a country that we would disarm as soon as possible, and other countries did the same. In the face of that Germany accepted the Treaty of Versailles. We had done nothing. We had offered a Disarmament Conference which might well make the gods laugh if they desired the destruction of the human race. We had got to realize the extraordinary gravity of the European situation—the pass to which the National Government had brought the world. The worst Foreign Secretary for 200 years had led this country into folly after folly in the international field. They ought to warn the Government that in no circumstances would they break any of the pacts they had made not to go to war. There was only one effective way in which they could make that threat effective...and that was to call a general strike. It was for the people of this country, in answer to that call, to put themselves behind the trade unions and to compel the trade unions to draw up plans immediately for that great resistance.
    • Speech in Bristol (28 October 1933), quoted in The Times (30 October 1933), p. 14
  • I do not believe in private armies but if the Fascists started a private army it might be for the Socialist and Communist Parties to do the same. When the Labour Party come into power they must act rapidly, and it will be necessary to deal with the House of Lords and the influence of the City of London. There is no doubt that we shall have to overcome opposition from Buckingham Palace and other places as well...There must not be time to allow the forces outside to gather and to exercise their influence upon the Legislature before the key-points of capitalism have been transferred to the control of the State, and I look upon these two key-points myself as being the land and finance. If other people become revolutionary, then the Socialist Government, like any other Government, must take steps to stamp out the revolution. The Socialist Government must not be mealy-mouthed about saying what they mean. They must make it perfectly clear that it is their intention to carry out the mandate they have been given by the people.
    • Speech to the annual conference of the University Labour Federation in Nottingham (6 January 1934), quoted in The Times (8 January 1934), p. 14
  • The problem of dealing with the armed forces of the Crown is the most difficult one we will have to face when we do get into power. The Labour Party will have to face the fact that it is a class Party...It has to be prepared to take steps more forceful than even the steps taken at the time of the Ulster Rebellion.
    • The Manchester Guardian (28 May 1934), quoted in Hugh Dalton, The Fateful Years. Memoirs 1931-1945 (1957), p. 150
  • But it is a fallacy, if one is examining the methods by which security can be attained, to start upon the assumption, as so many hon. Members do, that we get security by an increase of air armaments or an increase of any other form of armaments.
    • Hansard, House of Commons, 5th Series, vol. 292, col. 2425.
    • Speech in the House of Commons opposing the National Government's decision to expand the Royal Air Force (30 July 1934)
  • I cannot imagine the Labour Party coming into power without a first-rate financial crisis. That is why we ask for full emergency measures.
    • The Manchester Guardian (5 November 1934), quoted in Hugh Dalton, The Fateful Years. Memoirs 1931-1945 (1957), p. 150
  • It must be the duty of the next Labour Government in power to make an immediate challenge to the capitalist system and take the banks and the land into the custody of the people. The time had come to drop all hesitancy and to be bold. If they returned a Socialist Government next time, it was going to "do things," whatever it cost.
    • Speech in Canning Town (26 June 1935), quoted in The Times (28 June 1935), p. 13
  • We will have nothing to do with Imperialist or capitalist wars. If the time comes, as we hope it will, when the workers of this country own England as they do not own England to-day; if their policy is a policy of international socialism, then it may be that we may have to defend the system and the country against the marauders of some capitalist Power...the majority of the workers would be prepared to defend the system, but so long as they were being asked to defend something with which they profoundly disagreed, something which they believed to lie at the root of the dangers of the world to-day, then it was their duty to say that they would have nothing to do with the armed forces or with war. It was no exaggeration to say that to-day we were far more in danger of a holocaust than we were in 1931 Lombard Street determined that it was time to finish the life of the Labour Government. It was finished not by the traditional method of a hostile vote in the Commons, but by means which [I] dared to mention in Nottingham—and caused a considerable uproar in the Press—the Buckingham Palace influence.
    • Speech to the Socialist League in Nottingham (6 July 1935), quoted in The Times (8 July 1935), p. 21
  • You have only got to look at the pages of British imperial history to hide your head in shame that you are British.
    • Speech in Bristol (20 October 1935), quoted in Quintin Hogg, The Left was Never Right (1945), p. 109
  • It is fundamental to Socialism that we should liquidate the British Empire as soon as we can.
    • Hull Daily Mail (2 March 1936), quoted in Quintin Hogg, The Left was Never Right (1945), p. 109
  • The National Government's only remedy for a difficult national problem was to arm and arm and arm, regardless of the lessons of history and the proved fact that armament racing could only end in war. ... If we are plunged in war I devoutly hope that the workers of this country will use it for the purpose of revolution. I hope that the present government can be made to understand that that will happen. It will be a very healthy thought for them to have in the back of their mind.
    • Speech in Leeds (1 October 1936), quoted in The Times (2 October 1936), p. 11
  • Every possible effort should be made to stop recruiting for the Armed Forces. This may, and probably would, lead to some form of conscription being proposed or introduced. Thus would be provided a most favourable political platform upon which to fight the National Government.
    • Forward (3 October 1936), quoted in Talus, Your Alternative Government (1945), p. 36
  • I do not believe it would be a bad thing for the British working-class if Germany defeated us. It would be a disaster for the profit-makers and capitalists, but not necessarily for the working-class.
    • Speech in Stockport (14 November 1936), The Manchester Guardian (15 November 1936), quoted in Hugh Dalton, The Fateful Years. Memoirs 1931-1945 (1957), p. 151
  • All sorts of excuses were being given why we should uphold rearmament, including the old-fashioned "For God, King and Country" patriotism, assisted by all the tomfoolery of jubilees and coronations.
    • Speech in Bristol (13 February 1937), quoted in The Times (15 February 1937), p. 14
  • The reactionaries of our Movement are keen to prevent Socialists from coming into it. The last thing anyone should do is to pander to the reactionaries by staying out. James Maxton and Harry Pollitt should be the Leaders of the Labour Movement today
    • Speech in Bristol (13 February 1937), The Manchester Guardian (15 February 1937), quoted in Hugh Dalton, The Fateful Years. Memoirs 1931-1945 (1957), p. 151
  • Money cannot make armaments. Armaments can only be made by the skill of the British working class, and it is the British working class who would be called upon to use them. To-day you have the most glorious opportunity that the workers have ever had if you will only use the necessity of capitalism in order to get power yourselves. The capitalists are in your hands. Refuse to make munitions, refuse to make armaments, and they are helpless. They would have to hand the control of the country over to you.
    • Speech at Eastleigh, Hampshire (14 March 1937), quoted in The Times (15 March 1937), p. 21
  • The workers must now make it clear beyond all doubt that they will not support the Government or its armaments in its mad policy which it is now pursuing.
    • Speech on 23 May 1938, quoted in Talus, Your Alternative Government (1945), p. 45
  • I want to see the end of the British Empire in the world.
    • Speech in Bristol (18 September 1938), quoted in Quintin Hogg, The Left was Never Right (1945), p. 109

President of the Board of Trade edit

  • Emphatically no, and I never have been.
    • Asked by Peter Howard whether he favoured the use of any measure of force to establish Socialism, quoted in Peter Howard, Men on Trial (1945), p. 69
  • ...we must avoid a competitive raising of wages and conditions in a scarce labour market, which raises prices. ... If we allow prices to rise because of internal costs rising, we shall lose and not gain our overseas markets, or at least not be able to gain new ones in the competition. Therefore, incentives must be strictly limited to increased production so that more earnings mean more production. We cannot in any circumstances afford to pay more for the same or less production. We must await the further raising of the levels of earnings until we can provide the goods upon which those earnings can be spent. In the same way, let me point out, that large profits drawn from industry today are just as inimical because they, too, raise the price levels and, furthermore, they offer an immediate temptation for the demand for greater salaries.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 August 1947)
  • We must bring home to the people the seriousness of the country's present plight and the future problems that we face. We must convince them of their power to overcome all difficulties by common effort. We must draw out from people that courage and determination which have always been the hallmarks of the British character.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 August 1947)
  • Production, and production alone, can find us relief in our immediate situation. It is no part of the British character to resign ourselves to such difficulties or to fail to take the measures, however hard, to overcome them. It has been truly said that by our faith we can move mountains. It is by our faith in ourselves, in our country, in the free democratic traditions for which the people of this country have for centuries fought and battled, and for which they must fight again as willingly on the economic front as upon the oceans, on the land and in the air, it is by our faith in the deep spiritual values that we acknowledge in our Christian faith, that we shall be enabled and inspired to move the present mountains of our difficulties, and so emerge into that new and fertile plain of prosperity which we shall travel in happiness only as the result of our own efforts and our own vision.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (7 August 1947)

Chancellor of the Exchequer edit

  • ...we do not contemplate taking any action to alter the rate of sterling in relation to other currencies, as we do not believe that this will be rendered necessary or advisable.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (26 January 1948)
  • [In the case of sterling devaluation was] neither necessary nor will it take place.
    • Press conference in Rome (1 May 1949), quoted in The Times (2 May 1949), p. 3
  • Though we have achieved considerable success in our policy of increasing production and maintaining full employment, this has been accompanied by constant pressure for higher wages resulting in higher prices. We have not yet found out how we can maintain full employment in combination with stable or decreasing costs and prices.
    • Memorandum, 'The Dollar Situation: Forthcoming Discussions with U.S.A. and Canada' (4 July 1949), quoted in Correlli Barnett, The Lost Victory: British Dreams, British Realities: 1945–1950 (1996), p. 353
  • His Majesty's Government have not the slightest intention of devaluing the pound.
    • Speech in the House of Commons (6 July 1949)
  • The Government reduce the dollar exchange value of the pound sterling. In the last few days we have settled what the new rate should be and now I have to tell you of that decision; it is that in place of the present rate, fixed in 1946, of $4 3c. for the pound the rate will in future be $2 80c. to the pound.
    • Broadcast (18 September 1949), quoted in The Times (19 September 1949), p. 4
  • Our position is such that we could not 'integrate' our economy into that of Europe in any manner that would prejudice the full discharge of these other responsibilities. At the same time, Britain regarded herself as bound up in western Europe, not only in economic, strategic and political interests, but in our culture and indeed in our participation in the heritage of Christian civilization.
    • Speech to the Council of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation in Paris (1 November 1949) rejecting Paul Hoffman's proposals for European integration, quoted in The Times (2 November 1949), p. 4

Quotes about Cripps edit

  • He was a man the greatness of whose intellectual and practical abilities was matched by his nobility of character and high idealism. ... I believe he did immense service to this country.
  • As one who has been a nationalist leader and worker for India's independence, though now my activity is no longer in the political but in the spiritual field, I wish to express my appreciation of all you have done to bring about this offer. I welcome it as an opportunity given to India to determine for herself, and organise in all liberty of choice, her freedom and unity, and take an effective place among the world's free nations. I hope that it will be accepted, and right use made of it, putting aside all discords and divisions.... I offer my public adhesion, in case it can be of any help in your work.
    • The British government sent Sir Stafford Cripps to India in March, 1942, with a proposal for dominion status after the war. Sri Aurobindo sent Cripps this message. The next day, on April 1, Cripps replied with the following telegram: I am most touched and gratified by your kind message allowing me to inform India that you who occupy unique position in imagination of Indian youth, are convinced that declaration of His Majesty's Government substantially confers that freedom for which Indian Nationalism has so long struggled.
    • Sri Aurobindo, March 31, 1942, quoted from Sri Aurobindo, ., Nahar, S., Aurobindo, ., & Institut de recherches évolutives (Paris). India's rebirth: A selection from Sri Aurobindo's writing, talks and speeches. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives. 3rd Edition (2000). [1]
  • There, but for the grace of God, goes God.
    • Winston Churchill.
  • Stafford Cripps was a man of force and fire. His intellectual and moral passions were so strong that they not only inspired but not seldom dominated his actions. They were strengthened and also governed by the workings of a powerful, lucid intelligence, and by a deep and lively Christian faith. He strode through life with a remarkable indifference to material satisfactions or worldly advantages. I suppose there are few hon. Members in any part of the House who have not differed violently from him at this time or that, and yet there is none who did not regard him with respect and with admiration, not only for his abilities, but for his character.
    • Winston Churchill, speech in the House of Commons (22 April 1952)
  • Cripps seems quite unable to see the argument that he is damaging the party electorally. It is all ‘misreporting’, or picking sentences out of their context. He has become very vain and seems to think that only he and his cronies know what Socialism is or how it should be preached. His gaffes cover an immense range – Buckingham Palace – League of Nations – ‘compelling’ Unions to declare a General Strike – prolonging Parliament beyond five years...‘seize land, finance and industry’ (without compensation?) – Emergency Powers Bill in one day, giving ‘all necessary powers’...I make a violent – perhaps too violent – speech asking that this stream of oratorical ineptitudes should now cease...It is the number of these gaffes which is so appalling. Our candidates are being stabbed in the back and pushed onto the defensive. Tory HQ regard him as their greatest electoral asset...Attlee says I am like a pedagogue addressing a pupil. I wish the pupil were a bit brighter.
  • We mourn today the passing of a fine Christian knight, a dauntless spirit, a devoted public servant, a noble character whose life, whose integrity, and whose work are an example and an inspiration to us all, whose shining faith never faltered in the face of difficulties, however mountainous.
  • Cripps, a man without roots, a demagogue and a liar, would pursue his sick fancies although the Empire were to crack at every corner. Moreover, this theoretician devoid of humanity lacks contact with the mass that's grouped behind the Labour Party, and he'll never succeed in understanding the problems that occupy the minds of the lower classes.

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