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Why did Labour lose the 1951
election?…read more

Slide 2

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Pro-conservative: Anti-Labour (Government domestic
· During Labour premiership, driven by Butler & problems):
Woolton, Conservative party attempted to re- · Labour struggling to maintain power ­ divided
organisation & modernise ­ re-organisation power ­ hard time dealing with problems;
gathered momentum; Conservatives now ready wages, rationing, balance payments,
for a term in office. government expenditure, nationalisation ­
· Campaign launched by Woolton to bolster mixed feelings.
grassroots support & raise party funds ­ money · 1946: harsh winter ­ turning point, fuel crisis
would be used to revamp Central office and damaged industrial production, unemployment
regional associations. rose, trade badly affected ­ growing concern of
· Maxwell - Fyfe introduced plan to restrict inflation.
contributions made by individuals which had · Rationing until 1949 on clothes, 1950 on basis
influenced possible selection as parliamentary food, inflation necessary due to import control,
candidates ­ made party more democratic. goods available on `black market'.
· 1947 ­ Butler published Industrial Charter
showed commitment by Conservative to a
welfare state & greater degree of collectivism.
· Re-organisation certainly important but
historians now argue as the margin they won by
was small its not most significant factor for
Labours loss.
· Liberal supporters also more inclined to vote
troy than Labour.…read more

Slide 3

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Internal Divisions: Anti-Labour (Government economic
· 1947 ­ Stafford Cripps attempted to oust problems):
Atlee & replace him with Bevin, Cripps · Wage freezes, policy of wage restraint
became Chancellor & coon backed off. introduced by Atlee March 1948 ­ 1950 in order
to combat inflation, also introduced wealth tax ­
· Age of Austerity: Cuts in expenditure annoyed middle classes.
upset left-wing Labour members, cuts in
· Balance of payments problem ­ big issue how to
expenditure inevitably affected NHS & improve Britain's international trading position,
other areas of welfare state. winter crisis reduced exports whilst imports rose
· Bevan resigned 1951 after Hugh Gaitskell particularly from US ­ imports weren't cheap &
in his April budget decided to introduce were a drain on foreign currency.
prescription charges for dentures & · Situation eased from loan by America, not a long
spectacles, Bevan refused to accept cuts term improvement until Cripps took over as
Chancellor of Exchequer November 1947.
necessary due to rearmament programme Relaxed industrial controls & provided new
­ he quit. incentives for industry, exports increased,
· Bevan closely followed by Harold Wilson & balance of payments surplus early 1948 ­ trend
John Freeman. reversed 1949 checked by devaluation of pound,
1961 exports 3x above level in 1939.
· Atlee seemingly failed to reconcile the
differences in his party and partly due to a · Cripps used wage freezes & rationing to stabilise
economy (both were unpopular), Cripps pushed
re-emerging balance crisis; he decided to for expenditure cuts caused disagreements in
call General election. party.
· Cuts made, Labour won in 1950, Britain's
commitment to Korean War pushed expenditure
up on rearmament, Gaitskell (new chancellor)
forced to make cuts elsewhere; health ­
prescription charges.…read more

Slide 4

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The Results:
· September 1951 General election called
by Atlee.
· Conservatives gained 231 seats, Labour
gained 295 seats, Liberals gained 6 seats.
· Of significance was the fact that the
Conservatives were made in the middle-
class areas of London & the southeast
generally.…read more


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