1951 General Election

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Election Result

Conservatives won the 1951 General Election with a 17 seat majority in the House of Commons

Winston Churchill is back in power as prime minister

Labour obtained more votes, a greater percentage share of the vote, but they still lost, due to the First-Past-the-Post electoral system

Conservatives got 48% of the votes

Only 82.6% of the population voted

Conservatives stayed in power for 13 years (1951 - 1964)

4 Prime ministers, Churchill, Eden, Macmillan and Douglas-Home

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Why did Labour lose?

1. Attlee's government was worn down by heavy economic and financial difficulties

2. Government and individual exhaustion

3. Serious divisions between the left and the right of the party over politics

4. The 1950 election result

5. Image of a party of rationing and high taxation

6. The Korean War upset the left wing

7. Trade unions' resentment at Labour's policies

8. Bevanite rebellion of 1951

9. Conservative recovery of morale

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Why did the Conservatives win?

1. Professional reorganisation of the party under Lord Woolton (Chairman) and Sir David Maxwell-Fufe (Head of Committee on Party Reorganisation)

2. New ideas from younger MPs, such as R. A. ('Rab') Butler

3. A susatined attack on Labour's nationalisation of iron and steel

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What were Labour's main achievements?

1. Welfare state (NHS, national insurance, industrial injuries, national assistant act, all 1948)

2. Nationalisation (coal, bank of england, iron, steel and gas)

3. Indian Independence (1947)

4. NATO (1949)

5. Nuclear power 

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Labour's Legacy

1. Economics - based on Keynesian principles

2. Welfare - Based on Beveridge report

3. Education - based on equality of opportunity (Education act, 1944)

4. Foreign Affairs - based on pro-American, anti-Soviet stance (Atlanticist approach)

5. Imperial Policies - based on independence for former colonies

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Post-War Consensus

There was a legacy of wartime unity

'Big government' was seen as a necessary thing

Heavy emphasis of maintaining full employment

Importance put on trade unions

Popularity of Labour's welfare reforms

Small Conservative majority in the Commons

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