Hugh Gaitskell
Hugh Gaitskell 2
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office:

October 9, 1959 - January 18, 1963

Preceded by: Harold Macmillan
Succeeded by: George Brown (acting)
Leader of the Opposition
In office:

1955 - October 9, 1959

Preceded by: Clement Attlee
Succeeded by: Harold Macmillan
Chancellor of the Exchequer
In office:

March 9, 1951 - May 27, 1955

Preceded by: Ernest Bevin
Succeeded by: Rab Butler

April 9 1906, London, United Kingdom 

Died January 18 1963, London, United Kingdom
Nationality: British
Political party: Labour


Children: None
Alma mater:

New College, Oxford

Occupation: Politician
Religion: None (atheist)

Hugh Gaitskell was a British politician who served as Prime Minister (1959 - 1963). He was the first British Prime Minister to die in office since Lord Palmerston in 1865.

Gaitskell led the Labour Party to victory in 1959. He introduced many socially liberal reforms, including the legalisation of abortion and homosexuality, and the abolition of the death penalty.

Brown wilson gaitskell

George Brown, Hugh Gaitskell and Harold Wilson. 1959

Early Life

Early Political Career

In March 1951 Bevin was forced to resign due to ill health. Gaitskell replaced him as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Opposition Leader

Prime Minister

The Winter of 1962-3 was particularly harsh causing huge strain on infrastructure and increasing unemployment in many areas. Labour's position in opinion polls went from average to abysmal. The week before his death Labour was at 33%, the Conservatives at 48%. To remedy this Gaitskell sought to introduce a major cabinet reshuffle in the Spring of 1963.

Gaitskell Ministry

Prime Minister - Hugh Gaitskell

Deputy Prime Minister - Aneurin Bevan

Chancellor of the Exchequer - Harold Wilson

Foreign Secretary - Aneurin Bevan

Home Secretary - Patrick Gordon Walker

Defence Secretary - George Brown

Colonial Secretary - Jim Griffiths

Health Minister - Roy Jenkins

President of the Board of Trade - Tony Crosland

Education Minister - Barbara Castle

Transport Minister - James Callaghan

Aviation Minister - Denis Healey

Science and Technology Minister - Tony Benn

Social Security Minister - Margaret Herbison


  • March 1960 - Aneurin Bevan resigns as Foreign Secretary, replaced by George Brown. John Strachey replaces Brown at Defence
  • July 1960 - Bevan dies, Brown succeeds him as Deputy Prime Minister
  • February 1961 - James Callaghan replaces Jim Griffiths as Colonial Secretary, Griffiths becomes Welsh Secretary
  • March 1962 - Patrick Gordon Walker replaces Brown as Foreign Secretary, Brown replaces Walker as Home Secretary.


Gaitskell still remains the leading figure on the right wing of the Labour Party.

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