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Why Did The Conservatives Lose The 1945 General Election?

561 words - 3 pages

With the Second World War coming to and end in Europe, Churchill called a general election. What followed was perhaps on of the greatest swing of public confidence of the 20th century. Labour won overwhelming support while 'Churchill...was both surprised and stunned' by the crushing defeat suffered by the conservatives. How this swing of opinion came about is not only due the failings of the conservative party but also to labours manifesto of social reform. With the war drawing to an end by 1945, the national government sought to call an election in a bid to return to a two party system. With Churchill still riding the wave of victory was believed by many to win the election on his personality and wartime leadership alone. The conservatives themselves were so sure of this that they ...view middle of the document...

This lack of direction was a major failing of the party and did little to gain support. Finally in addition to the conservative poor election strategy, Churchill went so far as to accuse Attlee as being a dictator despite Attlee's loyal service in Churchill own cabinet during the war. The possible final nail in the conservative coffin was that people associated the conservatives with the 1930's policy of appeasement, which had brought about the war. This policy alone caused many to evaluate their loyalties, voting instead for Labour and thus bring about one of the most dramatic swings of public opinion in the 20th century. Despite the Conservative failures, Labour's dramatic win was due largely to the policy of social reform. One poll showed that 41% of people saw housing as the single most important issue that faced the country. The welfare state, based on the Beveridge report, proposed a dramatic turn in British social policy. The provision of free health care, free education, national insurance and a new housing policy. Formed the foundation of this act in an aim 'to provide from cradle to grave'. This dramatic police of reform cause millions to flock to labours banner. '...Large labour majority...it must be the forces vote', In fact 90% of the armed forces voted labour. The results of the election show that it's simply not just a loss of faith in conservative ideas. Bt a more general swing of public opinion. Desiring a better standard of living labours policy of social reform motivated the masses to vote labour. This factor combined with the conservative seemingly poor reputation during the last 10 years, due largely to chamberlain's policy of appeasement, and lack of a constructive campaign allowed labour to form its first majority government under Attlee.

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