Victory and Reform: Labour in Power: 1945-48

UNFINISHED Unit 2 in edexcel GCE history British Political History 1945-1990: Consensus and Conflict

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  • Created by: Jenna
  • Created on: 23-01-12 18:31

The End of the Coalition

  • German armies surrendered on May 7th 1945
  • Churchill, Attlee and Bevin favoured keeping the coalition until Japan surrendered
  • On 21 May 1945 Attlee telephoned Churchill regarding the end of the coalition
  • Churchill decided it was better to end and have another election quicker as it was better for the Conservatives
  • Attlee was not optimistic - just hoped that the Conservatives would have a reduced minority
  • Coalition came to an end on 23 May 1945 - Churchill formed a 'caretaker' cabinet until an election could be held
  • During the coalition, bonds had been made - Labour MPs had served with Conservative MPs during the war - Churchill was fond of Attlee and Bevin - Attlee and Eden got on well
  • Both front benches essentially agreed on foreign policy and of their relationship with the USA and that welfare was priority at home
  • Churchill's 'caretaker' government introduced child allowances
  • Butler education act of 1944 raised school leaving age to 14
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General Election - 1945

  • Conservatives relied heavily on Churchill to win them the election
  • Attlee campaigned up and down the country - he was no push-over
  • They each had conflicting personalities
  • 4 June 1945 - Churchill's famous Gestapo speech
  • Many Conservatives felt that this speech damaged their opportunity of winning
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Why did Labour Win?

  • Consistantly ahead in the opinion polls
  • fear that unemployment would return under the Conservatives
  • 'sins of the past' were heaped onto the Tory party
  • circulation of the Daily Mirror - which had shifted it's allegance to Labout just before the war
  • Labour were far better organised than the Conservatives - maybe because they were not expecting to win?
  • Labour campaign was more professional
  • mood change - most believed that the state could provide a fairer nation
  • Attlee highlighted that the Conservatives were a 'class party' representing 'property and priviledge'
  • Conservatives seemed old-fashioned
  • Churchill used scare tactics - Gestapo speech - to try and gain votes but failed - this was insulting to the supporters of socialism
  • Laski tried to convince Attlee to resign but failed
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Who Won the Election?

  • In almost every region, Labour did well
  • convincing majority in London
  • slight majority in the South - usually Tory
  • In the North, Midlands and Wales - Labour were comfortably ahead
  • Scotland was closer than expected (Conservatives were nearly eliminated in the 21st century!)
  • Labour's programme could therefore be carried out, if the British economy allowed it
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Forming a Labour Government

  • Attlee and Churchill were both very surprised with the result
  • Attlee immediately faced a plot to replace him - led by Herbert Morrison - suggested an election among the MPs - which he expected to win as Attlee had risen to be PM by default - there was no better candidate in other words
  • Bevin supported Attlee - told him to go to the Palace before Morrison could organise anything
  • Received King's Commission to form a government
  • 'Today we go into action. Today may rightly be regarded as D-Day in the battle for the New Britain' - John Freeman - new young labour MP
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