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Portrait of Ernest Bevin (1881-1951). Bevin joined the Dockers Union and by the age of 30 was one of its paid officials. When Ben Tillett and Harry Gosling formed the National Transport Workers Federation (NTWF) Bevin was elected to its executive. By 1921 over 32 separate unions had joined together to form the Transport & General Workers Union (TGWU). Bevin was elected general secretary, a post he was to hold for the next nineteen years. He was also a member of the General Council of the Trade Union Congress between 1925 and 1940. Considered to be a moderate by more militant trade unionists, Bevin was opposed to the forming of the Triple Alliance with the miners and railwaymen and played an important role in negotiating the TGWU's withdrawal from the General Strike in 1926. In May 1940 Winston Churchill invited Bevin to become Minister of Labour in his coalition government. The following month Bevin won a by-election at Wandsworth and joined the House of Commons. Bevin successfully achieved mobilization of Britain's workforce and became one of the most significant members of Churchill's war cabinet. When the Labour Party won a landslide victory in the 1945 General Election, Clement Attlee appointed Bevin as his Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Bevin, who held strong anti-communist views, played an important role in the acceptance of the Marshall Plan, the creation of of NATO and Britain's decision to develop nuclear weapons
© Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans