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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

10 Downing Street's new occupant .. .. and the first Prime Minister of UK ?

No cliché post of how karma is a boomerang and how UK that ruled India is now about to be ruled by an Indian !!  .. .. .. Rishi Sunak took oath as MP from Yorkshire, on the Bhagavad Gita in the Parliament. He was the first UK parliamentarian to do so.  During the campaigning for the PM's post in the summer of 2022, Rishi Sunak faced criticism on various fronts including his lavish house, expensive suits, and shoes.

As a young man, Walpole had bought shares in the South Sea Company, which monopolised trade with Spain, the Caribbean and South America. The speculative market for slaves, rum and mahogany spawned a frenzy that had ramifications throughout Europe when it collapsed. However, Walpole had bought at the bottom and sold at the top, adding greatly to his inherited wealth and allowing him to create Houghton Hall as seen today.

Walpole's political career began in January 1701 when he won a seat in the English general election at Castle Rising in Norfolk.  The South Sea Company (officially The Governor and Company of the merchants of Great Britain, trading to the South Seas and other parts of America, and for the encouragement of the Fishery)  was a British joint-stock company founded in  1711, created as a public-private partnership to consolidate and reduce the cost of the national debt. To generate income, in 1713 the company was granted a monopoly (the Asiento de Negros) to supply African slaves to the islands in the "South Seas" and South America.  When the company was created, Britain was involved in the War of the Spanish Succession and Spain and Portugal controlled most of South America.  The  Company stock rose greatly in value as it expanded its operations dealing in government debt, and peaked in 1720 before suddenly collapsing to little above its original flotation price. The notorious economic bubble thus created, which ruined thousands of investors, became known as the South Sea Bubble.  The Bubble Act 1720 forbade the creation of joint-stock companies without royal charter, was promoted by the South Sea Company itself before its collapse.

Indians are not fit to rule – they are only fit to be ruled – thundered British a few decades ago !  .. .. now it is not London Bridge that is falling down!

                                  Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss the list of Prime Minister from our school days  -  now  Rishi Sunak will be the UK's next prime minister after winning the Conservative Party leadership contest.   No 10 says Sunak will formally take over as PM tomorrow morning after meeting King Charles, and will give a statement at around 11:35.  That'll follow a final cabinet meeting chaired by outgoing PM Liz Truss. 

The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the Principal minister of the crown of His Majesty's Government, and the head of the British Cabinet.   In 1905, the post of prime minister was officially given recognition in the order of precedence.  The first to use the title in an official act was Benjamin Disraeli, who signed the Treaty of Berlin as "Prime Minister of Her Britannic Majesty" in 1878.

Of the many Prime Ministers, Attlee is a name to remember – for he was the PM of UK when India attained freedom from the British.  Clement Richard Attlee, 1st Earl Attlee, KG, OM, CH, PC, FRS (1883 –1967) served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955. He was Deputy Prime Minister during the wartime coalition government under Winston Churchill, and served twice as Leader of the Opposition from 1935 to 1940 and from 1951 to 1955.  Attlee was born into an upper-middle-class family, the son of a wealthy London solicitor.  

As the European front of WWII reached its conclusion, the war cabinet headed by Churchill was dissolved and elections were held. The Labour Party, led by Attlee, won a landslide victory in the 1945 general election, on their post-war recovery platform. Following the election, Attlee led the construction of the first Labour majority government. His government's Keynesian approach to economic management aimed to maintain full employment, a mixed economy and a greatly enlarged system of social services provided by the state. To this end, it undertook the nationalisation of public utilities and major industries, and implemented wide-ranging social reforms, including the passing of the National Insurance Act 1946 and National Assistance Act, the formation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948, and the enlargement of public subsidies for council house building.  Attlee's foreign policy focused on decolonization efforts which he delegated to Ernest Bevin, but personally oversaw the partition of India (1947), the independence of Burma and Ceylon, and the dissolution of the British mandates of Palestine and Transjordan.  Attlee had inherited a country close to bankruptcy following the Second World War and beset by food, housing and resource shortages; despite his social reforms and economic programme, these problems persisted throughout his premiership, alongside recurrent currency crises and dependence on US aid. His party was narrowly defeated by the Conservatives in the 1951 general election, despite winning the most votes.  

The man referred in 2nd para - Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, KG PC (1676 – 1745) was a British statesman and Whig politician who is  regarded as the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain. Although the exact dates of Walpole's dominance, dubbed the "Robinocracy",  are a matter of scholarly debate, the period 1721–1742 is often used – a period of 21 years !    He played a significant role in sustaining the Whig party, safeguarding the Hanoverian succession, and defending the principles of the Glorious Revolution (1688). 

Under the guidance of Walpole, Parliament attempted to deal with the financial crisis brought on by the South Sea Bubble. The estates of the directors of the South Sea Company were used to relieve the suffering of the victims, and the stock of the company was divided between the Bank of England and East India Company. The crisis gravely damaged the credibility of the King and of the Whig Party, but Walpole defended both with skilful oratory in the House of Commons. 

10 Downing Street in London,  is the official residence and executive office of the First Lord of the Treasury, usually, by convention, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.  Along with the adjoining Cabinet Office at 70 Whitehall, it is the headquarters of the Government of the United Kingdom. Situated in Downing Street in the City of Westminster, London, Number 10 is over 300 years old and contains approximately 100 rooms. A private residence for the prime minister's use occupies the third floor and there is a kitchen in the basement. The other floors contain offices and conference, reception, sitting and dining rooms where the prime minister works, and where government ministers, national leaders and foreign dignitaries are met and hosted.  Rishi Sunak is going to be its next occupant !! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25th Oct 2022.


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