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Born in Lower Park House, Lower Park, Bewdley in Worcestershire, Baldwin was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, University of Cambridge, and after receiving his degree in history he devoted himself to the family business. He was married on September 12, 1892.
In 1908 he succeeded his late father, Alfred Baldwin, as a deputy for the constituency of Bewdley. During the First World War he assumed the position of Parliamentary Private Secretary of the Conservative leader Andrew Bonar Law. From 1917 he sought donations to pay the war debt of the United Kingdom, which he even wrote in The Times under the pseudonym of ‘FST’. Personally, he donated a fifth of his small fortune. In 1921 he was promoted to the Cabinet, in charge of commerce.
At the end of 1922 the coalition between the conservatives and the liberal party of David Lloyd George was broken. Conservative leader Andrew Bonar Law was forced to seek new ministers, and appointed Baldwin Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the elections of November 1922, the Conservatives won by majority.
In May 1923, Bonar Law was diagnosed with terminal cancer and retired. King George V appointed Baldwin prime minister, in front of the aristocratic conservative leader Lord Curzon, member of the House of Lords. At first, he held the position of Finance Minister, until he appointed Neville Chamberlain to the post.
The Conservatives had a clear majority in the House of Commons and could govern for five years without calling new elections, but Baldwin felt bound to Bonar Law’s decision not to introduce new tariffs without new elections. With the country facing rising unemployment, Baldwin decided to call elections in 1923 in search of a mandate that would allow him to introduce protectionist tariffs to face unemployment. In the elections they held the majority in the House of Commons, but they were clearly defeated in the main electoral issue, which were the rates. He remained as prime minister until the opening session of the new parliament in January 1924, at which time the government was defeated in a motion of confidence. Immediately resigned.
The government of Ramsay MacDonald was not more stable and elections were called for in 1924, in which there was a clear slippage of the electorate towards the conservatives, mainly at the expense of the liberals. At the request of Baldwin, William Douglas Weir (Lord Weir) led a committee to “review the national problem of electric power.” He published his conclusions on May 14, 1925, in which he recommended the establishment of a Central Electricity Board, a state monopoly. Baldwin accepted it and it became law in 1926. It was a success.
In the elections of 1929 they returned to the government, but in 1931 Baldwin and the Conservatives entered into a coalition with Labor Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. This decision led to the expulsion of MacDonald from his own party, and Baldwin, as Lord President of the Council became de facto prime minister instead of senile MacDonald, until he was officially reappointed in 1935. His government secured with great difficulty the approval of the Government of India Act (Law of the Government of India (1935).
Baldwin began a rearmament program and reorganized and expanded the RAF, despite opposition from Labor. During his third term as prime minister (1935-1937) the political situation in Europe was getting worse, and his foreign policy was the subject of serious criticism, while he had to face the abdication of Edward VIII. After successfully resolving the matter of the abdication, he was able to retire shortly after the coronation of the new King George VI and was named Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (Count Baldwin of Bewdley).
His retirement years were quiet. Since Neville Chamberlain was dead, he was perceived as a pre-war peacemaker, which made him an unpopular figure during and after World War II. During the war, Winston Churchill consulted him only once, about the possibility of adopting a harder line towards the continued neutrality of the Ireland of Éamon de Valera; Baldwin advised him against.
He had been appointed Chancellor (rector) of the University of Cambridge in 1930, and continued to hold this position until he died during his sleep at Astley Hall, near Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, on December 14, 1947. He was cremated and his ashes buried in Worcester Cathedral.
Baldwin was essentially a conservative. When he retired, in 1937, he received many praises. But World War II worsened its public image. Rightly or wrongly, Baldwin, like the now-deceased Chamberlain and MacDonald, was held responsible for the United Kingdom’s lack of military readiness at the beginning of the war in 1939. Its defenders consider that the moderate Baldwin felt that I could not begin an aggressive rearmament program without a national consensus on the issue. In fact, pacifist appeasement was the dominant current in international relations at the time in the United Kingdom, France and the United States.
For Winston Churchill, however, there is no room for excuses. He firmly believed that Baldwin’s conciliatory behavior towards Hitler gave the German dictator the impression that Britain would not fight if attacked. Although he is known for his magnanimity towards political opponents such as Neville Chamberlain, Churchill did not employ any towards Baldwin. “I do not wish Stanley Baldwin any harm,” Churchill said, declining to send a congratulatory note for the 80th birthday of the premier retired in 1947, “but it would have been much better than it had ever existed.”
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