Atlee Labour gov 1945-51

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Labour’s 1945 victory

·         a majority of 148

·         Churchill’s personal popularity as a war time leader did not carry over into peace time


  • The Conservatives were still blamed for the Great Depression of the 1930s and for the failure to prepare Britain for war in time.
  • There was a feeling that the time was right for a new start for Britain, that it should be a ‘land fit for heroes’. The Conservatives were seen as too old and establishment to introduce the new changes needed socially and economically which were needed.
  • The Conservative electioneering campaign was poor and out of touch
  • Tories only spent £3000 on electioneering
  • Key Labour figures had been prominent in the war time coalition government and had gained a very favourable reputation. Many, notably Attlee himself, has basically run the country as Churchill focussed on running the war effort.
  • The electoral system worked in Labour’s favour, meaning that they gained a seat for every 30 522 votes cast, but the Conservatives needed 46 893 votes to win a seat.


The Mood in Post War Britain.


·         The soldiers returning for war were looking forward to returning to their old jobs and a secure life.

·         The war had shown that the old ways had to go.

·         The collective nature of society during the war opened people’s minds to a new way that society could be developed. Government needed to be part of that

·         The old problems of poverty and slum housing would no longer be tolerated

·         Much of British industry was ruined or exhausted

·         New economies would grow and new technologies would develop that the British work force were not willing, or able, to adapt to.

·         defeated nations, Germany and Japan, did the best out of the post war recovery, as they received the most aid and could rebuild their economies from scratch, with new idea, machines, attitudes and technologies.


The Key Figures in Attlee’s government 1941-51


Clement Attlee.



·         PM for six of the hardest years that any government faced,

·         Under his office Britain formed the welfare state, was able to change the whole economic system

·         founding member of NATO and granted independence to India.

Ernest Bevan



·         most influential statesmen of his era

·         a right winger in Labour Party terms

·         fought against the infiltration of Communists into the party and trade unions

·         Minister for Labour during the war

·         Between 1945 and 1950 he was Foreign Minister

·         Pro American and anti Soviet stance


Stafford Cripps.




·         gifted intellectual

·         pro Communist.

·         Minister for Aircraft Production during the war

·         in 1946 he helped to prepare the way for Indian independence

·         From 1947 he was Chancellor of the Exchequer during the Austerity period and



Very comprehensive notes on 1945-51 which are clearly organised and offer ideas for evaluating Atlee's government as well as covering foreign and domestic policies.

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