Harold Macmillan
Harold Macmillan

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Name: Harold Macmillan
Occupation: World Leader
Gender: Male
Birth Day: February 10, 1894
Death Date: Dec 29, 1986 (age 92)
Age: Aged 92
Country: England
Zodiac Sign: Aquarius

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Harold Macmillan

Harold Macmillan was born on February 10, 1894 in England (92 years old). Harold Macmillan is a World Leader, zodiac sign: Aquarius. Find out Harold Macmillannet worth 2020, salary 2020 detail bellow.


During his time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose because of social reforms such as the 1956 Clean Air Act, the 1957 Housing Act, the 1960 Offices Act, the 1960 Noise Abatement Act.

Does Harold Macmillan Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Harold Macmillan died on Dec 29, 1986 (age 92).

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Before Fame

He served as the captain of the Grenadier Guards during World War I on behalf of Britain.

Biography Timeline


Macmillan went up to Balliol College in 1912, where he joined many political societies. His political opinions at this stage were an eclectic mix of moderate Conservatism, moderate Liberalism and Fabian Socialism. He read avidly about Disraeli, but was also particularly impressed by a speech by Lloyd George at the Oxford Union Society in 1913, where he had become a member and debater. Macmillan was a protégé of the Union President Walter Monckton, later a Cabinet colleague; as such, he became Secretary then Junior Treasurer (elected unopposed in March 1914, then an unusual occurrence) of the Union, and would in his biographers' view "almost certainly" have been President had the war not intervened. He obtained a First in Honours Moderations, informally known as Mods (consisting of Latin and Greek, the first half of the four-year Oxford Literae Humaniores course, informally known as Greats), in 1914. With his final exams over two years away, he enjoyed an idyllic Trinity (summer) term at Oxford, just before the outbreak of the First World War.


Volunteering as soon as war was declared, Macmillan was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the King's Royal Rifle Corps on 19 November 1914. Promoted to lieutenant on 30 January 1915, he soon transferred to the Grenadier Guards. He fought on the front lines in France, where the casualty rate was high, as was the probability of an "early and violent death". He served with distinction as a captain and was wounded on three occasions. Shot in the right hand and receiving a glancing bullet wound to the head in the Battle of Loos in September 1915, Macmillan was sent to Lennox Gardens in Chelsea for hospital treatment, then joined a reserve battalion at Chelsea Barracks from January to March 1916, until his hand had healed. He then returned to the front lines in France. Leading an advance platoon in the Battle of Flers–Courcelette (part of the Battle of the Somme) in September 1916, he was severely wounded, and lay for over twelve hours in a shell hole, sometimes feigning death when Germans passed, and reading the classical playwright Aeschylus in the original Greek. Prime Minister Asquith's own son, Raymond Asquith, was a brother officer in Macmillan's regiment, and was killed that month.


Macmillan then served in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in 1919 as ADC to Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire, then Governor General of Canada, and his future father-in-law. The engagement of Captain Macmillan to the Duke's daughter Lady Dorothy was announced on 7 January 1920. He relinquished his commission on 1 April 1920. As was common for contemporary former officers, he continued to be known as 'Captain Macmillan' until the early 1930s and was listed as such in every General Election between 1923 and 1931. As late as his North African posting of 1942–43 he reminded Churchill that he held the rank of captain in the Guards reserve.


On his return to London in 1920 he joined the family publishing firm Macmillan Publishers as a junior partner. In 1936, Harold and his brother Daniel took control of the firm, with the former focusing on the political and non-fiction side of the business. Harold resigned from the company on appointment to ministerial office in 1940. He resumed working with the firm from 1945 to 1951 when the party was in opposition.

Macmillan married Lady Dorothy Cavendish, the daughter of the 9th Duke of Devonshire, on 21 April 1920. Her great-uncle was Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, who was leader of the Liberal Party in the 1870s, and a close colleague of William Ewart Gladstone, Joseph Chamberlain and Lord Salisbury. Lady Dorothy was also descended from William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire, who served as Prime Minister from 1756 to 1757 in communion with Newcastle and Pitt the Elder. Her nephew William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, married Kathleen Kennedy, a sister of John F. Kennedy.


Macmillan contested the depressed northern industrial constituency of Stockton-on-Tees in 1923. The campaign cost him about £200-£300 out of his own pocket. The collapse in the Liberal vote let him win in 1924. In 1927 four MPs, including Boothby and Macmillan, published a short book advocating radical measures. In 1928 Macmillan was described by his political hero, and now Parliamentary colleague, David Lloyd George, as a "born rebel".


In 1929 Lady Dorothy began a lifelong affair with the Conservative politician Robert Boothby, an arrangement that scandalised high society but remained unknown to the general public. Philip Frere, a partner in Frere Cholmely solicitors, urged Macmillan not to divorce his wife, which at that time would have been fatal to a public career even for the "innocent party". Macmillan and Lady Dorothy lived largely separate lives in private thereafter. The stress caused by this may have contributed to Macmillan's nervous breakdown in 1931. He was often treated with condescension by his aristocratic in-laws and was observed to be a sad and isolated figure at Chatsworth in the 1930s. Campbell suggests that Macmillan's humiliation was first a major cause of his odd and rebellious behaviour in the 1930s then, in subsequent decades, made him a harder and more ruthless politician than his rivals Eden and Butler.

Macmillan lost his seat in 1929 in the face of high regional unemployment. He almost became Conservative candidate for the safe seat of Hitchin in 1931 but the sitting MP, Guy Molesworth Kindersley cancelled his retirement plans, in part because of his own association with the anti-Baldwin rebels and his suspicion of Macmillan's sympathy for Oswald Mosley's promises of radical measures to reduce unemployment. Instead, the fortunate resignation of the new candidate at Stockton allowed Macmillan to be re-selected there, and he returned to the House of Commons for his old seat in 1931.


Macmillan spent the 1930s on the backbenches. In March 1932 he published "The State and Industry" (not to be confused with his earlier pamphlet "Industry and the State"). In September 1932 he made his first visit to the USSR. Macmillan also published "The Next Step". He advocated cheap money and state direction of investment. In 1933 he was the sole author of "Reconstruction: A Plea for a National Unity". In 1935 he was one of 15 MPs to write "Planning for Employment". His next publication, "The Next Five Years", was overshadowed by Lloyd George's proposed "New Deal" in 1935. Macmillan Press also published the work of the economist John Maynard Keynes.


In 1936, Macmillan proposed the creation of a cross-party forum of antifascists to create democratic unity but his ideas were rejected by the leadership of both the Labour and Conservative parties.


The Next Five Years Group, to which Macmillan had belonged, was wound up in November 1937. His book The Middle Way appeared in June 1938, advocating a broadly centrist political philosophy both domestically and internationally. Macmillan took control of the magazine New Outlook and made sure it published political tracts rather than purely theoretical work.


Macmillan supported Chamberlain's first flight for talks with Hitler at Berchtesgaden, but not his subsequent flights to Bad Godesberg and Munich. After Munich he was looking for a "1931 in reverse", i.e. a Labour-dominated coalition in which some Conservatives would serve, the reverse of the Conservative-dominated coalition which had governed Britain since 1931. He supported the independent candidate, Lindsay, at the Oxford by-election. He wrote a pamphlet "The Price of Peace" calling for alliance between Britain, France and the USSR, but expecting Poland to make territorial "accommodation" to Germany (i.e. give up the Danzig corridor). In "Economic Aspects of Defence", early in 1939, he called for a Ministry of Supply.


Macmillan visited Finland in February 1940, then the subject of great sympathy in Britain as it was being attacked by the USSR, then loosely allied to Nazi Germany. His last speech from the backbenches was to attack the government for not doing enough to help Finland. Britain was saved from a potentially embarrassing commitment when the Winter War ended in March 1940 (Finland would later fight on the German side against the USSR).


Macmillan was appointed Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1942, in his own words "leaving a madhouse to enter a mausoleum". Though a junior minister he was a member of the Privy Council, and he spoke in the House of Commons for Colonial Secretaries Lord Moyne and Lord Cranborne. Macmillan was given responsibility for increasing colonial production and trade, and signalled the future policy direction when in June 1942 he declared:

Macmillan predicted that the Conservatives faced landslide defeat after the war, causing Channon to write (6 Sep 1944) of "the foolish prophecy of that nice ass Harold Macmillan". In October 1942 Harold Nicolson recorded Macmillan as predicting "extreme socialism" after the war. Macmillan nearly resigned when Oliver Stanley was appointed Secretary of State in November 1942, as he would no longer be the spokesman in the Commons as he had been under Cranborne. Brendan Bracken advised him not to quit.

After Harry Crookshank had refused the job, Macmillan attained real power and Cabinet rank late in 1942 as British Minister Resident at Algiers in the Mediterranean, recently liberated in Operation Torch. He reported directly to the Prime Minister instead of to the Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. Oliver Lyttelton had a similar job at Cairo, while Robert Murphy was Macmillan's US counterpart. Macmillan built a rapport with US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean (SACMED), which proved helpful in his career, and Richard Crossman later recalled that Macmillan's "Greeks in the Roman Empire" metaphor dated from this time (i.e. that as the US replaced Britain as the world's leading power, British politicians and diplomats should aim to guide her in the same way that Greek slaves and freedmen had advised powerful Romans). Macmillan told Crossman: "We, my dear Crossman, are the Greeks in the American empire. You will find the Americans much as the Greeks found the Romans-great big, vulgar bustling people, more vigorous than we are and also more idle, with more unspoiled virtues, but also more corrupt. We must run AFHQ [Allied Forces Headquarters] as the Greek slaves ran the operations of the Emperor Claudius". At the Casablanca Conference Macmillan helped to secure US acceptance, if not recognition, of the Free French leader Charles de Gaulle. Macmillan wrote in his diary during the Casablanca conference: "I christened the two personalities the Emperor of the East and the Emperor of the West and indeed it was rather like a meeting of the late Roman empire". For Macmillan, the "remarkable and romantic episodes" as President Roosevelt met Prime Minister Churchill in Casablanca convinced him that personal diplomacy was the best way to deal with Americans, which later influenced his foreign policy as prime minister.


Together with Gladwyn Jebb he helped to negotiate the Italian armistice in August 1943, between the fall of Sicily and the Salerno Landings. This caused friction with Eden and the Foreign Office. He was based at Caserta for the rest of the war. He was appointed UK High Commissioner for the Advisory Council for Italy late in 1943. He visited London in October 1943 and again clashed with Eden. Eden appointed Duff Cooper as Representative to the Free French government in Algeria (after the liberation of mainland France, he later continued as Ambassador to France from November 1944) and Noel Charles as Ambassador to Italy to reduce Macmillan's influence. In May 1944 Macmillan infuriated Eden by demanding an early peace treaty with Italy (at that time a pro-Allied regime under Badoglio held some power in the southern, liberated, part of Italy), a move which Churchill favoured. In June 1944 he argued for a British-led thrust up the Ljubljana Gap into Central Europe (Operation "Armpit") instead of the planned diversion of US and Free French forces to the South of France (Operation Dragoon). This proposal impressed Churchill and General Alexander, but did not meet with American approval. Eden sent out Robert Dixon to abolish the job of Resident Minister, there being then no job for Macmillan back in the UK, but he managed to prevent his job being abolished. Churchill visited Italy in August 1944. On 14 September 1944 Macmillan was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Allied Central Commission for Italy (in succession to General Macfarlane). He continued to be British Minister Resident at Allied Headquarters and British political adviser to "Jumbo" Wilson, now Supreme Commander, Mediterranean. On 10 November 1944 he was appointed Acting President of the Allied Commission (the Supreme Commander being President).


Macmillan visited Greece on 11 December 1944. As the Germans had withdrawn, British troops under General Scobie had deployed to Athens, but there were concerns that the largely pro-communist Greek resistance, EAM and its military wing ELAS, would take power (see Dekemvriana) or come into conflict with British troops. Macmillan rode in a tank and was under sniper fire at the British Embassy. Despite the hostility of large sections of British and American opinion, who were sympathetic to the guerillas and hostile to what was seen as imperialist behaviour, he persuaded a reluctant Churchill, who visited Athens later in the month, to accept Archbishop Damaskinos as Regent on behalf of the exiled King George. A truce was negotiated in January 1945, enabling a pro-British regime to remain in power, as Churchill had demanded in the Percentages agreement the previous autumn.


Macmillan was also the minister advising General Keightley of V Corps, the senior Allied commander in Austria responsible for Operation Keelhaul, which included the forced repatriation of up to 70,000 prisoners of war to the Soviet Union and Josip Broz Tito's Yugoslavia in 1945. The deportations and Macmillan's involvement later became a source of controversy because of the harsh treatment meted out to Nazi collaborators and anti-partisans by the receiving countries, and because in the confusion V Corps went beyond the terms agreed at Yalta and Allied Forces Headquarters directives by repatriating 4000 White Russian troops and 11,000 civilian family members, who could not properly be regarded as Soviet citizens.

Macmillan toyed with an offer to succeed Duff Cooper as MP for the safe Conservative seat of Westminster St George's. Criticised locally for his long absence, he suggested that Lady Dorothy stand for Stockton in 1945, as she had been nursing the seat for five years. She was apparently willing. However, it was thought better for him to be seen to defend his seat, and Lord Beaverbrook had already spoken to Churchill to arrange that Macmillan be given another seat in the event of defeat.


With the Conservative victory in 1951 Macmillan became Minister of Housing & Local Government under Churchill, who entrusted him with fulfilling the pledge to build 300,000 houses per year (up from the previous target of 200,000 a year), made in response to a speech from the floor at the 1950 Party Conference. Macmillan thought at first that Housing, which ranked 13 out of 16 in the Cabinet list, was a poisoned chalice, writing in his diary (28 October 1951) that it was "not my cup of tea at all ... I really haven't a clue how to set about the job". It meant obtaining scarce steel, cement and timber when the Treasury were trying to maximise exports and minimise imports. 'It is a gamble—it will make or mar your political career,' Churchill said, 'but every humble home will bless your name if you succeed.'


By July 1952 Macmillan was already criticising Butler (then Chancellor of the Exchequer) in his diary, accusing him of "dislik(ing) and fear(ing) him"; in fact there is no evidence that Butler regarded Macmillan as a rival at this stage. In April 1953 Beaverbrook encouraged Macmillan to think that in a future leadership contest he might emerge in a dead heat between Eden and Butler, as the young Beaverbrook (Max Aitken as he had been at the time) had helped Bonar Law to do in 1911. In July 1953 Macmillan considered postponing his gall bladder operation in case Churchill, who had just suffered a serious stroke while Eden was also in hospital, had to step down.


Macmillan's first government had seen the first phase of the sub-Saharan African independence movement, which accelerated under his second government. The most problematic of the colonies was the Central African Federation, which had united Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland together in 1953 largely out of the fear that the white population of Southern Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe) might want to join South Africa, which had since 1948 had been led by Afrikaner nationalists distinctly unfriendly to Britain. Through the Central African Federation had been presented as a multi-racial attempt to develop the region, the federation had been unstable right from the start with the black population charging that the whites had been given a privileged position.


Macmillan was Foreign Secretary in April–December 1955 in the government of Anthony Eden, who had taken over as prime minister from the retiring Churchill. Returning from the Geneva Summit of that year he made headlines by declaring: 'There ain't gonna be no war.' Of the role of Foreign Secretary Macmillan observed:

Macmillan was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in December 1955. He had enjoyed his eight months as Foreign Secretary and did not wish to move. He insisted on being "undisputed head of the home front" and that Eden's de facto deputy Rab Butler, whom he was replacing as Chancellor, not have the title "Deputy Prime Minister" and not be treated as senior to him. He even tried (in vain) to demand that Salisbury, not Butler, should preside over the Cabinet in Eden's absence. Macmillan later claimed in his memoirs that he had still expected Butler, his junior by eight years, to succeed Eden, but correspondence with Lord Woolton at the time makes clear that Macmillan was very much thinking of the succession. As early as January 1956 he told Eden's press secretary William Clark that it would be "interesting to see how long Anthony can stay in the saddle".


Macmillan planned to reverse the 6d cut in income tax which Butler had made a year previously, but backed off after a "frank talk" with Butler, who threatened resignation, on 28 March 1956. He settled for spending cuts instead, and himself threatened resignation until he was allowed to cut bread and milk subsidies, something the Cabinet had not permitted Butler to do.

In November 1956 Britain invaded Egypt in collusion with France and Israel in the Suez Crisis. According to Labour Shadow Chancellor Harold Wilson, Macmillan was 'first in, first out': first very supportive of the invasion, then a prime mover in Britain's humiliating withdrawal in the wake of the financial crisis caused by pressure from the US government. Since the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, relations between Britain and Egypt had deteriorated. The Egyptian government, which came to be dominated by Gamal Abdel Nasser, was opposed to the British military presence in the Arab World. The Egyptian nationalisation of the Suez Canal by Nasser on 26 July 1956 prompted the British government and the French government of Guy Mollet to commence plans for invading Egypt, regaining the canal, and toppling Nasser. Macmillan wrote in his diary: "If Nasser 'gets away with it', we are done for. The whole Arab world will despise us ... Nuri [es-Said, British-backed Prime Minister of Iraq] and our friends will fall. It may well be the end of British influence and strength forever. So, in the last resort, we must use force and defy opinion, here and overseas".

Macmillan threatened to resign if force was not used against Nasser. He was heavily involved in the secret planning of the invasion with France and Israel. It was he who first suggested collusion with Israel. On 5 August 1956 Macmillan met Churchill at Chartwell, and told him that the government's plan for simply regaining control of the canal was not enough and suggested involving Israel, recording in his diary for that day: "Surely, if we landed we must seek out the Egyptian forces; destroy them; and bring down Nasser's government. Churchill seemed to agree with all this." Macmillan knew President Eisenhower well, but misjudged his strong opposition to a military solution. Macmillan met Eisenhower privately on 25 September 1956 and convinced himself that the US would not oppose the invasion, despite the misgivings of the British Ambassador, Sir Roger Makins, who was also present. Macmillan failed to heed a warning from Secretary of State John Foster Dulles that whatever the British government did should wait until after the US presidential election on 6 November, and failed to report Dulles' remarks to Eden.


One of his innovations at the Treasury was the introduction of premium bonds, announced in his budget of 17 April 1956. Although the Labour Opposition initially decried them as a 'squalid raffle', they proved an immediate hit with the public, with £1,000 won in the first prize draw in June 1957.

His political standing destroyed, Eden resigned on grounds of ill health on 9 January 1957. At that time the Conservative Party had no formal mechanism for selecting a new leader, and the Queen appointed Macmillan Prime Minister after taking advice from Churchill and the Marquess of Salisbury, who had asked the Cabinet individually for their opinions, all but two or three opting for Macmillan. This surprised some observers who had expected that Eden's deputy Rab Butler would be chosen. The political situation after Suez was so desperate that on taking office on 10 January he told the Queen he could not guarantee his government would last "six weeks"—though ultimately he would be in charge of the government for more than six years.

In the Middle East, faced by the 1958 collapse of the Baghdad Pact and the spread of Soviet influence, Macmillan acted decisively to restore the confidence of Persian Gulf allies, using the Royal Air Force and special forces to defeat a revolt backed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt against the Sultan of Oman, Said bin Taimur, in July 1957; deploying airborne battalions to defend Jordan against Syrian subversion in July 1958; and deterring a threatened Iraqi invasion of Kuwait by landing a brigade group in July 1960.

Macmillan was a major proponent and architect of decolonisation. The Gold Coast was granted independence as Ghana, and the Federation of Malaya achieved independence within the Commonwealth of Nations in 1957.

In April 1957, Macmillan reaffirmed his strong support for the British nuclear weapons programme. A succession of prime ministers since the Second World War had been determined to persuade the United States to revive wartime co-operation in the area of nuclear weapons research. Macmillan believed that one way to encourage such co-operation would be for the United Kingdom to speed up the development of its own hydrogen bomb, which was successfully tested on 8 November 1957.

On 25 March 1957, Macmillan acceded to Eisenhower's request to base 60 Thor IRBMs in England under joint control to replace the nuclear bombers of the Strategic Air Command, which had been stationed under joint control since 1948 and were approaching obsolescence. Partly as a consequence of this favour, in late October 1957 the US McMahon Act was eased to facilitate nuclear co-operation between the two governments, initially with a view to producing cleaner weapons and reducing the need for duplicate testing. The Mutual Defence Agreement followed on 3 July 1958, speeding up British ballistic missile development, notwithstanding unease expressed at the time about the impetus co-operation might give to atomic proliferation by arousing the jealousy of France and other allies.

While recovering in hospital, Macmillan wrote a memorandum (dated 14 October) recommending the process by which "soundings" would be taken of party opinion to select his successor, which was accepted by the Cabinet on 15 October. This time backbench MPs and junior ministers were to be asked their opinion, rather than just the Cabinet as in 1957, and efforts would be made to sample opinion amongst peers and constituency activists.

Enoch Powell claimed that it was wrong of Macmillan to seek to monopolise the advice given to the Queen in this way. In fact, this was done at the Palace's request, so that the Queen was not being seen to be involved in politics as had happened in January 1957, and had been decided as far back as June when it had looked as though the government might fall over the Profumo scandal. Ben Pimlott later described this as the "biggest political misjudgement of her reign".


He was nicknamed "Supermac" in 1958 by the cartoonist "Vicky" (Victor Weisz), who intended to suggest that Macmillan was trying set himself up as a "Superman" figure. It was intended as mockery but backfired, coming to be used in a neutral or friendly fashion. Vicky tried to label him with other names, including "Mac the Knife" at the time of widespread cabinet changes in 1962, but none caught on.

Besides foreign affairs, the economy was Macmillan's other prime concern. His One Nation approach to the economy was to seek high or full employment, especially with a general election looming. This contrasted with the Treasury ministers who argued that support of sterling required spending cuts and, probably, a rise in unemployment. Their advice was rejected and in January 1958 the three Treasury ministers—Peter Thorneycroft, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Birch, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and Enoch Powell, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and seen as their intellectual ringleader—resigned. D. R. Thorpe argues that this, coming after the resignations of Labour ministers Aneurin Bevan, John Freeman and Harold Wilson in April 1951 (who had wanted higher expenditure), and the cuts made by Butler and Macmillan as Chancellors in 1955–56, was another step in the development of "stop-go" economics, as opposed to prudent medium-term management. Macmillan, away on a tour of the Commonwealth, brushed aside this incident as "a little local difficulty". He bore no grudge against Thorneycroft and brought him and Powell, of whom he was more wary, back into the government in 1960.

This period also saw the first stirrings of more active monetary policy. Official bank rate, which had been kept low since the 1930s, was hiked in September 1958. The change in bank rate prompted rumours in the City that some financiers - who were Bank of England directors with senior positions in private firms - took advantage of advance knowledge of the rate change in what resembled insider trading. Political pressure mounted on the Government, and Macmillan agreed to the 1957 Bank Rate Tribunal. Hearing evidence in the winter of 1957 and reporting in January 1958, this inquiry exonerated all involved in what some journalists perceived to be a whitewash.


In February 1959, Macmillan visited the Soviet Union. Talks with Nikita Khrushchev eased tensions in East-West relations over West Berlin and led to an agreement in principle to stop nuclear tests and to hold a further summit meeting of Allied and Soviet heads of government.

Macmillan led the Conservatives to victory in the 1959 general election, increasing his party's majority from 60 to 100 seats. The campaign was based on the economic improvements achieved as well as the low unemployment and improving standard of living; the slogan "Life's Better Under the Conservatives" was matched by Macmillan's own 1957 remark, "indeed let us be frank about it—most of our people have never had it so good," usually paraphrased as "You've never had it so good." Such rhetoric reflected a new reality of working-class affluence; it has been argued that "the key factor in the Conservative victory was that average real pay for industrial workers had risen since Churchill's 1951 victory by over 20 per cent". The scale of the victory meant that not only had the Conservatives won three successive general elections, but they had also increased their majority each time. It sparked debate as to whether Labour (now led by Hugh Gaitskell) could win a general election again. The standard of living had risen enough that workers could participate in a consumer economy, shifting the working class concerns away from traditional Labour Party views.

Macmillan felt that if the costs of holding onto a particular territory outweighed the benefits then it should be dispensed with. During the Kenya Emergency, the British authorities tried to separate the Kikuyu population from the Land and Freedom Army guerrillas (whom the British referred to as the "Mau Mau") by interning the Kikuyu in camps. A scandal erupted when the guards at the Hola camp publicly beat 11 prisoners to death on 3 March 1959, which attracted much adverse publicity as the news filtered out from Kenya to the United Kingdom. Many in the British media compared the living conditions in the Kenyan camps to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, noting that the people in the camps were emaciated and sickly. The report of the Devlin Commission in July 1959 concerning the suppression of demonstrators in Nyasaland (modern-day Malawi) called Nyasaland "a police state". In the aftermath of criticism about colonial policies in Kenya and Nyasland, Macmillan from 1959 onward started to see the African colonies as a liability, arguing at cabinet meetings that the level of force required to hang onto them would result in more domestic criticism, international opprobrium, costly wars, and would allow the Soviet Union to establish influence in the Third World by supporting self-styled "liberation" movements. After securing a third term for the Conservatives in 1959 he appointed Iain Macleod as Colonial Secretary. Macleod greatly accelerated decolonisation and by the time he was moved to Conservative Party chairman and Leader of the Commons in 1961 he had made the decision to give independence to Nigeria, Tanganyika, Kenya, Nyasaland (as Malawi) and Northern Rhodesia (as Zambia). Macmillan embarked on his "Wind of Change" tour of Africa, starting in Ghana on 6 January 1960. He made the famous 'wind of change' speech in Cape Town on 3 February 1960. It is considered a landmark in the process of decolonisation.

Alistair Horne, his official biographer, concedes that after his re-election in 1959 Macmillan's premiership suffered a series of major setbacks.


In the age of jet aircraft Macmillan travelled more than any previous Prime Minister, apart from Lloyd George who made many trips to conferences in 1919–22. Macmillan planned an important role in setting up a four power summit in Paris to discuss the Berlin crisis that was supposed to open in May 1960, but which Khrushchev refused to attend owning to the U-2 incident. Macmillan pressed Eisenhower to apologise to Khrushchev, which the president refused to do. Macmillan's failure to make Eisenhower "say sorry" to Khrushchev forced him to reconsider his "Greeks and Romans" foreign policy as he privately conceded that could no "longer talk usefully to the Americans". The failure of the Paris summit changed Macmillan's attitude towards the European Economic Community, which he started to see as a counterbalance to American power. At the same time, the Anglo-American "working groups", which Macmillan attached such importance to turned out to be largely ineffective as the Americans did not wish to have their options limited by a British veto; by in-fighting between agencies of the U.S. government such as the State Department, Defense Department, etc; and because of the Maclean-Burgess affair of 1951 the Americans believed the British government was full of Soviet spies and thus could not be trusted.

Nigeria, the Southern Cameroons and British Somaliland were granted independence in 1960, Sierra Leone and Tanganyika in 1961, Trinidad and Tobago and Uganda in 1962, and Kenya in 1963. Zanzibar merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania in 1963. All remained within the Commonwealth except British Somaliland, which merged with Italian Somaliland to form Somalia.

Macmillan cancelled the Blue Streak ballistic missile in April 1960 over concerns about its vulnerability to a pre-emptive attack, but continued with the development of the air-launched Blue Steel stand-off missile, which was about to enter trials. For the replacement for Blue Steel he opted for Britain to join the American Skybolt missile project. From the same year Macmillan permitted the US Navy to station Polaris submarines at Holy Loch, Scotland, as a replacement for Thor. When Skybolt was unilaterally cancelled by US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Macmillan negotiated with President Kennedy the purchase of Polaris missiles under the Nassau agreement in December 1962.

Macmillan worked with states outside the European Communities (EC) to form the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which from 3 May 1960 established a free-trade area. AS the EEC proved to be an economic success, membership in the EEC started to look more attractive compared to the EFTA. A report from Sir Frank Lee of the Treasury in April 1960 predicated that the three major power blocs in the decades to come would be those headed by the United States, the Soviet Union and the EEC, and argued to avoid isolation Britain would to have decisively associate itself with one of the power blocs. Macmillan wrote in his diary about his decision to apply to join the EEC: "Shall we be caught between a hostile (or at least less and less friendly) America and a boastful, powerful 'Empire of Charlemagne'-now under French, but later bound to come under German control?...It's a grim choice".

Through Macmillan had decided upon joining the EEC in 1960, he waited until July 1961 to formally make the application as he feared the reaction of the Conservative Party backbenchers, the farmers' lobby and the populist newspaper chain owned by the right-wing Canadian millionaire Lord Beaverbrook, who saw Britain joining the EEC as a betrayal of the British empire. As expected, the Beaverbrook newspapers whose readers tended to vote Conservative offered up ferocious criticism of Macmillan's application to join the EEC, accusing him of betrayal. Negotiations to join the EEC were complicated by Macmillan's desire to allow Britain to continue its traditional policy of importing food from the Commonwealth nations of Australia, New Zealand and Canada, which led the EEC nations, especially France, to accuse Britain of negotiating in bad faith.

Macmillan had been elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1960, in a campaign masterminded by Hugh Trevor-Roper, and held this office for the rest of his life, frequently presiding over college events, making speeches and tirelessly raising funds. According to Sir Patrick Neill QC, the vice-chancellor, Macmillan "would talk late into the night with eager groups of students who were often startled by the radical views he put forward, well into his last decade."


Britain's balance of payments problems led Chancellor Selwyn Lloyd to impose a seven-month wage freeze in 1961 and, amongst other factors, this caused the government to lose popularity and a series of by-elections in March 1962, of which the most famous was Orpington on 14 March. Butler leaked to the Daily Mail on 11 July 1962 that a major reshuffle was imminent. Macmillan feared for his own position and later (1 August) claimed to Lloyd that Butler, who sat for a rural East Anglian seat likely to suffer from EEC agricultural protectionism, had been planning to split the party over EEC entry (there is no evidence that this was so).

Macmillan was scheduled to visit the United States in April 1961, but with the Pathet Lao winning a series of victories in the Lao civil war, Macmillan was summoned on what he called the "Laos dash" for an emergency summit with Kennedy in Key West on 26 March 1961. Macmillan was strongly opposed to the idea of sending British troops to fight in Laos, but was afraid of damaging relations with the United States if he did not, making him very apprehensive as he set out for Key West, especially as he had never met Kennedy before. Macmillan was especially opposed to intervention in Laos as he had been warned by his Chiefs of Staff on 4 January 1961 that if Western troops entered Laos, then China would probably intervene in Laos as Mao Zeodong had make it quite clear he would not accept Western forces in any nation that bordered China. The same report stated that a war with China in Laos would "be a bottomless pit in which our limited military resources would rapidly disappear". Kennedy for his part wanted Britain to commit forces to Laos if the United States for political reasons. Kennedy wanted to avoid the charge that the United States would be acting unilaterally in Southeast Asia if it did intervene in Laos and because Britain was a member of SEATO and he would face domestic criticism if the United States was the only SEATO member to fight in Laos. For these reasons, Kennedy was adamant that if the United States intervened in Laos, then he expected the United Kingdom to likewise do so. The meeting in Key West was very tense as Macmillan was heard to mutter "He's pushing me hard, but I won't give way". However, Macmillan did reluctantly agree if the Americans intervened in Laos, then so too would Britain. The Laos crisis had a major crisis in Anglo-Thai relations as the Thais pressed for armed forces of all SEATO members to brought to "Charter Yellow", a state of heightened alert that the British representative to SEATO vetoed. The Thais wanted to change the voting procedure for SEATO from requiring unanimous consent to a three-quarter majority, a measure that Britain vetoed, causing the Thais to lose interest in SEATO.

The failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 made Kennedy distrust the hawkish advice he received from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA, and he ultimately decided against intervention in Laos, much to Macmillan's private relief. Macmillan's second meeting with Kennedy in April 1961 was friendlier and his third meeting in London in June 1961 after Kennedy had been bested by Khrushchev at a summit in Vienna even more so. It was at his third meeting in London that Macmillan started to assume the mantle of an elder statesman, who offered Kennedy encouragement and his experience that formed a lasting friendship. Believing that personal diplomacy was the best way to influence Kennedy, Macmillan appointed David Ormsby-Gore as his ambassador in Washington as he was a long-time friend of the Kennedy family, whom he had known since the 1930s when Kennedy's father had served as the American ambassador in London.

Macmillan's policy overrode the hostility of white minorities and the Conservative Monday Club. South Africa left the multiracial Commonwealth in 1961 and Macmillan acquiesced to the dissolution of the Central African Federation by the end of 1963.


In the 1962 cabinet reshuffle known as the 'Night of the Long Knives', Macmillan sacked eight Ministers, including Selwyn Lloyd. The Cabinet changes were widely seen as a sign of panic, and the young Liberal MP Jeremy Thorpe said of Macmillan's dismissals 'greater love hath no man than this, than to lay down his friends for his life'. Macmillan was openly criticised by his predecessor Lord Avon, an almost unprecedented act.

Macmillan supported the creation of the National Economic Development Council (NEDC, known as "Neddy"), which was announced in the summer of 1961 and first met in 1962. However, the National Incomes Commission (NIC, known as "Nicky"), set up in October 1962 to institute controls on income as part of his growth-without-inflation policy, proved less effective. This was largely due to employers and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) boycotting it. A further series of subtle indicators and controls was introduced during his premiership.

The Indonesian president Sukarno strongly objected to the new federation, claiming on somewhat dubious grounds that all of Malaysia should be included in Indonesia. On 8 December 1962, Indonesia sponsored a rebellion in the British protectorate of Brunei, leading to Macmillan to dispatch Gurkhas to put down the rebellion against the sultan. In January 1963 Sukarno started a policy of konfrontasi ("confrontation") with Britain. Macmillan detested Sukarno, partly because he had been a Japanese collaborator in World War Two, and partly because of his fondness for elaborate uniforms despite never having personally fought in a war offended the World War I veteran Macmillan, who had a strong contempt for any man who had not seen combat. In his diary, Macmillan called Sukarno "a cross between Liberace and Little Lord Fauntleroy". Macmillan felt that giving in to Sukarno's demands would be "appeasement" and clashed with Kennedy over the issue. Sukarno was the leader of the most populous nation in Southeast Asia and through officially neutral in the Cold War tended to take anti-Western positions, and Kennedy favoured accommodating him to bring him closer to the West, for example supporting Indonesia's claim to Dutch New Guinea even through the Netherlands was a NATO ally. Macmillan feared the expenses of an all-out war with Indonesia, but also felt to give in to Sukarno would damage British prestige, writing on 5 August 1963 that Britain's position in Asia would be "untenable" if Sukarno were to triumph over Britain in the same manner he had over the Dutch in New Guinea. To help reduce the expenses of the war, Macmillan appealed to the Australian Prime Minister Menzies to send troops to defend Malaysia. On 25 September 1963, Sukarno announced in a speech that Indonesia would "ganyang Mayaysia" ("gobble Malaysia raw") and on the same day a mob burned down the British embassy in Jakarta. The result was the Indonesian Confrontation, an undeclared war between Britain vs. Indonesia that began in 1963 and continued to 1966.

By the early 1960s, many were starting to find Macmillan's courtly and urbane Edwardian manners anachronistic, and satirical journals such as Private Eye and the television show That Was the Week That Was mercilessly mocked him as a doddering, clueless leader. Macmillan's handling of the Vassall affair when an Admiralty clerk, John Vassall, was convicted in October 1962 of passing secrets to the Soviet Union undermined his "Super-Mac" reputation for competence. D. R. Thorpe writes that from January 1963 "Macmillan's strategy lay in ruins" leaving him looking for a "graceful exit". The Vassall Affair turned the press against him. In the same month, opposition leader Hugh Gaitskell died suddenly at the age of 56. With a general election due before the end of the following year, Gaitskell's death threw the future of British politics into fresh doubt. The following month, Harold Wilson was elected as the new Labour leader, and he proved to be a popular choice with the public.


The report The Reshaping of British Railways (or Beeching I report) was published on 27 March 1963. The report starts by quoting the brief provided by the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, from 1960, "First, the industry must be of a size and pattern suited to modern conditions and prospects. In particular, the railway system must be modelled to meet current needs, and the modernisation plan must be adapted to this new shape", and with the premise that the railways should be run as a profitable business. This led to the notorious Beeching Axe, destroying many miles of permanent way and severing towns from the railway network.

Macmillan was a supporter of the nuclear test ban treaty of 1963, and in the first half of 1963 he had Ormsby-Gore quietly apply pressure Kennedy to resume the talks in the spring of 1963 when negotiations became stalled. Feeling that the Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was being obstructionist, Macmillan telephoned Kennedy on 11 April 1963 to suggest a joint letter to Khrushchev to break the impasse. Through Khrushchev's reply to the Macmillan-Kennedy letter was mostly negative, Macmillan pressed Kennedy to take up the one positive aspect in his reply, namely that if a senior Anglo-American team would arrive in Moscow, he would welcome them to discuss how best to proceed about a nuclear test ban treaty. The two envoys who arrived in Mosocw were W. Averell Harriman representing the United States and Lord Hailsham representing the United Kingdom. Through Lord Hailsham's role was largely that of an observer, the talks between Harriman and the Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko resulted in the breakthrough that led to the nuclear test ban treaty of 1963, banning all above ground nuclear tests. Macmillan had a pressing domestic reasons for the nuclear test ban treaty. Newsreel footage of Soviet and American nuclear tests throughout the 1950s had terrified segments of the British public who were highly concerned about the possibility of weapons with such awesome destructive power be used against British cities, and led to the foundation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), whose rallies in the late 1950s-early 1960s calling for British nuclear disarmament were well attended. Macmillan believed in the value of nuclear weapons both as a deterrent against the Soviet Union and to maintain Britain's claim to be great power, but he was also worried about the popularity of the CND. For Macmillan, banning above ground nuclear tests which generated film footage of the ominous mushroom clouds raising far above the earth was the best way to dent the appeal of the CND, and in this the Partial Nuclear Ban Treaty of August 1963 was successful.

In Southeast Asia, Malaya, Sabah (British North Borneo), Sarawak and Singapore became independent as Malaysia in 1963. Because Singapore with its ethnic Chinese majority was the largest and wealthiest city in the region, Macmillan was afraid that a federation of Malaya and Singapore together would result in a Chinese majority state, and insisted on including Sarawak and British North Boreno into the federation of Malaysia to ensure the new state was a Malay majority state. During the Malaya Emergency, the majority of the Communist guerrillas were ethnic Chinese, and British policies tended to favour the Muslim Malays whose willingness to follow their sultans and imams made them more anti-communist. Southeast Asia was a region where racial-ethno-religious politics predominated, and the substantial Chinese minorities in the region were widely disliked on the account of their greater economic success. Macmillan wanted Britain to retain military bases in the new state of Malaysia to ensure that Britain was a military power in Asia and thus he wanted the new state of Malaysia to have a pro-Western government. This aim was best achieved by having the same Malay elite who had worked with the British colonial authorities serve as the new elite in Malaysia, hence Macmillan's desire to have a Malay majority who would vote for Malay politicians. Macmillan especially wanted to keep the British base at Singapore, which he like other prime ministers saw as the linchpin of British power in Asia.

Macmillan also saw the value of rapprochement with the EEC, to which his government sought belated entry, but Britain's application was vetoed by French president Charles de Gaulle on 29 January 1963. De Gaulle was always strongly opposed to British entry for many reasons. He sensed the British were inevitably closely linked to the Americans. He saw the European Communities as a continental arrangement primarily between France and Germany, and if Britain joined, France's role would diminish.

President Kennedy visited Macmillan's country home, Birch Grove, on 29–30 June 1963, for talks about the planned Multilateral Force. They never met again, and this was to be Kennedy's last visit to the UK. He was assassinated in November, shortly after the end of Macmillan's premiership.

The Profumo affair of 1963 permanently damaged the credibility of Macmillan's government. The revelation of the affair between John Profumo (Secretary of State for War) and an alleged call-girl, Christine Keeler, who was simultaneously sleeping with the Soviet naval attache Captain Yevgeny Ivanov made it appear that Macmillan had lost control of his government and of events in general. In the ensuing Parliamentary debate he was seen as a pathetic figure, while Nigel Birch declared, in the words of Browning on Wordsworth, that it would "Never (be) Glad Confident Morning Again". On 17 June 1963, he survived a Parliamentary vote with a majority of 69, one fewer than had been thought necessary for his survival, and was afterwards joined in the smoking-room only by his son and son-in-law, not by any Cabinet minister. However, Butler and Reginald Maudling (who was very popular with backbench MPs at that time) declined to push for his resignation, especially after a tide of support from Conservative activists around the country. Many of the salacious revelations about the sex lives of "Establishment" figures during the Profumo affair damaged the image of "the Establishment" that Macmillan was seen as a part of, giving him the image by 1963 of a "failing representative of a decadent elite".

By the summer of 1963 Conservative Party Chairman Lord Poole was urging the ageing Macmillan to retire. The full Denning report into the Profumo Scandal was published on 26 September 1963.

He finally resigned, receiving the Queen from his hospital bed, on 18 October 1963, after nearly seven years as prime minister. He felt privately that he was being hounded from office by a backbench minority:


Richard Lamb argues that Macmillan was "by far the best of Britain's postwar Prime Ministers, and his administration performed better than any of their successors". Lamb argues that it is unfair to blame Macmillan for excessively quick African independence (resulting in many former colonies becoming dictatorships), or for the Beeching Plan (which was accepted by Labour in 1964, although Macmillan himself had reservations and had asked civil servants to draw up plans for extra road-building), and argues that had he remained in power Macmillan would never have allowed inflation to get as far out of hand as it did in the 1970s.

Macmillan initially refused a peerage and retired from politics in September 1964, a month before the 1964 election, which the Conservatives narrowly lost to Labour, now led by Harold Wilson.


Lady Dorothy died on 21 May 1966, aged 65, after 46 years of marriage.


Macmillan found himself drawn more actively into politics after Margaret Thatcher became Conservative leader in February 1975. After she ended Labour's five-year rule and became Prime Minister in May 1979, he told Nigel Fisher (his biographer, and himself a Conservative MP): "Ted [Heath] was a very good No2 {pause} not a leader {pause}. Now, you have a real leader. {long pause} Whether she's leading you in the right direction ..."


Macmillan accepted the Order of Merit in 1976. In October of that year he called for 'a Government of National Unity' including all parties, which could command the public support to resolve the economic crisis. Asked who could lead such a coalition, he replied: "Mr Gladstone formed his last Government when he was eighty-three. I'm only eighty-two. You mustn't put temptation in my way." His plea was interpreted by party leaders as a bid for power and rejected.

In 1976 he received the Order of Merit. In 1984 he received the Freedom medal from the Roosevelt Study Center.


He became President of the Carlton Club in 1977 and would often stay at the club when he had to stay in London overnight. Within a few months of becoming President he merged the Carlton and Junior Carlton. He was also a member of Buck's, Pratt's, the Turf Club and Beefsteak Club. He also once commented that White's was 75% gentlemen and 25% crooks, the perfect combination for a club.


Macmillan still travelled widely, visiting China in October 1979, where he held talks with senior Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping.


With hereditary peerages again being created under Thatcher, Macmillan requested the earldom that had been customarily bestowed to departing prime ministers, and on 24 February 1984 he was created Earl of Stockton and Viscount Macmillan of Ovenden. He is the last Prime Minister to have been given an hereditary peerage, although Margaret Thatcher's husband was later given a baronetage, which passed on to her own son. He took the title from his former parliamentary seat on the edge of the Durham coalfields, and in his maiden speech in the House of Lords he criticised Thatcher's handling of the coal miners' strike and her characterisation of striking miners as 'the enemy within'. He received an unprecedented standing ovation for his oration, which included the words:


As Chancellor of Oxford University, Macmillan condemned its refusal in February 1985 to award Thatcher an honorary degree. He noted that the decision represented a break with tradition, and predicted that the snub would rebound on the university.

Macmillan is widely supposed to have likened Thatcher's policy of privatisation to 'selling the family silver'. His precise quote, at a dinner of the Tory Reform Group at the Royal Overseas League on 8 November 1985, was on the subject of the sale of assets commonplace among individuals or states when they encountered financial difficulties: 'First of all the Georgian silver goes. And then all that nice furniture that used to be in the salon. Then the Canalettos go.' Profitable parts of the steel industry and the railways had been privatised, along with British Telecom: 'They were like two Rembrandts still left.'


Macmillan died at Birch Grove, the Macmillan family mansion on the edge of Ashdown Forest near Chelwood Gate in East Sussex, four days after Christmas in 1986. His age was 92 years and 322 days—the greatest age attained by a British Prime Minister until surpassed by Lord Callaghan on 14 February 2005. His grandson and heir Alexander, Viscount Macmillan of Ovenden, said: "In the last 48 hours he was very weak but entirely reasonable and intelligent. His last words were, 'I think I will go to sleep now'."


A private funeral was held on 5 January 1987 at St Giles' Church, Horsted Keynes, West Sussex, where he had regularly worshipped and read the lesson. Two hundred mourners attended, including 64 members of the Macmillan family, Thatcher and former premiers Lord Home and Edward Heath, Lord Hailsham, and "scores of country neighbours". The Prince of Wales sent a wreath "in admiring memory". He was buried beside his wife and next to his parents and his son Maurice, who had died in 1984.

The House of Commons paid its tribute on 12 January 1987, with much reference made to his book The Middle Way. Thatcher said: "In his retirement Harold Macmillan occupied a unique place in the nation's affections", while Labour leader Neil Kinnock struck a more critical note: "Death and distance cannot lend sufficient enchantment to alter the view that the period over which he presided in the 1950s, while certainly and thankfully a period of rising affluence and confidence, was also a time of opportunities missed, of changes avoided. Harold Macmillan was, of course, not solely or even pre-eminently responsible for that. But we cannot but record with frustration the fact that the vigorous and perceptive attacker of the status quo in the 1930s became its emblem for a time in the late 1950s before returning to be its critic in the 1980s."

A public memorial service, attended by the Queen and thousands of mourners, was held on 10 February 1987 in Westminster Abbey. Macmillan's estate was assessed for probate on 1 June 1987, with a value of £51,114 (equivalent to £144,831 in 2019).


In retirement Macmillan took up the chairmanship of his family's publishing house, Macmillan Publishers, from 1964 to 1974. The publishing firm remained in family hands until a majority share was purchased in 1995 by the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group; the imprint, however, persists. Macmillan brought out a six-volume autobiography:

Family Life

Harold's great-grandfather was one of the founders of Macmillan Publishers.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Harold Macmillan is 128 years, 9 months and 16 days old. Harold Macmillan will celebrate 129th birthday on a Friday 10th of February 2023. Below we countdown to Harold Macmillan upcoming birthday.


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