Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount Snowden

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Philip Snowden, 1st Viscount Snowden (July 18, 1864 - May 15, 1937) was a British politician, and the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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Lord Snowden

Snowden was born in Cowling in the West Riding of Yorkshire. His father had been a weaver and a Chartist, and Snowden joined the Liberal Party and followed his parents in becoming a Methodist and a teetotaller. While researching a speech on the dangers of socialism, Snowden instead became convinced by the ideology, and joined the Independent Labour Party. He became a prominent speaker for the party and wrote a popular Christian socialist pamphlet with Keir Hardie entitled The Christ that is to Be in 1903.

Also in 1903, Snowden married Ethel Annakin, a campaigner for women's suffrage. Snowden supported his wife's ideals and he became an noted speaker at suffragette meetings and other public meetings. In 1906, he became the Labour Party MP for Blackburn. He also wrote extensively on economics and advised David Lloyd George on the 1909 budget.

During the First World War, Snowden stuck to his pacifist principles offering his support to conscientious objectors. As a consequence of his anti-war sentiments he lost his seat in the 1918 general election. In 1922 he was elected to represent Colne Valley.

Upon Ramsay MacDonald's appointment as Prime Minister in January 1924 he was appointed as the Labour Party's first ever Chancellor of the Exchequer. He reduced some flat-rate taxes, as well as abolishing some tariffs, but did not implement the socialist measures he had previously proposed. He lost his position in November of the same year when the Conservatives were re-elected to government.

Snowden returned to government with Ramsay MacDonald's victory in May 1929 and was again appointed Chancellor. His economic philosophy was one of strict Gladstonian Liberalism rather than socialism, and he was considered by many at the time and since as being the principal opposition to the government following any radical economic policy to tackle the Great Depression as well as blocking proposals to introduce protectionist tariffs. The government eventually collapsed over arguments about a budget deficit amidst refusals by a significant minority of ministers to enact cuts in unemployment benefit.

Snowden retained the position of Chancellor during the National Government of 1931. As a consequence he was expelled from the party along with MacDonald, and Jimmy Thomas. Snowden decided not to stand for parliament in the election of November 1931. He was created Viscount Snowden, of Ickornshaw in the West Riding of the County of York, and served as Lord Privy Seal from 1931 to 1932 when he resigned in protest at the enactment of a full scheme of Dominion preference and protectionist tariffs. He subsequently wrote his Autobiography in which he bitterly attacked MacDonald. In the 1935 General Election Snowden supported a radical economic programme proposed by Lloyd George, despite it being a complete repudiation of Snowden's own record. He died on May 15, 1937.

Preceded by:
Neville Chamberlain
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by:
Winston Churchill
Preceded by:
Winston Churchill
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by:
Neville Chamberlain
Preceded by:
The Earl Peel
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by:
Stanley Baldwin

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Preceded by:
New Creation
Viscount Snowden
Succeeded by:

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