Election There are many reasons why labor gained their unexpected landslide victory in the 1945 general election, both due to the party itself and external influence. First amongst these causes was the effect that the nation’s experience of war had on their political views. In the last election in 1935 the socialist policies of labor had scared the public into thinking that if the party ever won a majority then they would create a communist state.
The war showed the public that socialist policies and centralized power could in fact be successful and even advantageous for a country and so the ear of a possible slide into communism was quelled. Labor ministers like Attlee and Morrison also built a good public image for themselves and their party, which both directly and indirectly affected their votes. The indirect affect of laborer’s improved public image came about due to Churchill ill Judged “Gestapo speech” in which he compared his fellow politicians to the German secret police.
Instead of the desired effect of sabotaging the labor campaign, the new public respect for the ministers that had won them the war meant the speech had the exact opposite outcome, and instead lost Churchill votes. The timing of this oration exacerbated the problem it caused as it was broadcast on 4th June 1945, Just a month before the voting started on 5th July. Another cause was the different reactions of the parties to the Bridged Report. This encouraged the creation of a welfare state, with financial benefits for citizens and also the tackling of the “five giants of want, ignorance, squalor, disease and idleness”.
The 1944 education act started the fight against ignorance, and the Family Allowances act published in April 1945 started to combat want, but much was still left to do before the “new Jerusalem” outlined in the report loud come into being. Both parties referred to the report in their manifestos but the Conservatives were somewhat vague as to when they would implement changes, whereas labor promised immediate action, and within three years of being in office had established a stable welfare state.
They achieved this by introducing insurance policies, pensions and benefits for the disadvantaged in the 1948 National Assistance act, the INS, and building schemes to alleviate the problem of idleness. When one really explores the election and its aftermath, one sees that it was not so much a loss for Churchill but for the conservatives. Thousands of people still came to listen to his speeches and even after the Gestapo speech debacle he was still accorded great respect.
The voters were biased against the Tories as a result of the depression of the ass and the legacy it left. Not only was the crash itself blamed partly on the party but their inaction in the face of the Sorrow Crusade and the suffering also caused widespread mistrust of the party and its members. The depression also contributed to laborer’s political victory because of the evacuation. This mass exodus of children from cities showed more affluent families who had been unaffected by he depression the sheer severity of the problem. 2% of the evacuees from Newcastle had no shoes, and it was hardships such as these which turned the they had now indirectly experienced. The first past the post system used in British politics also favored labor, as even though they won almost twice as many seats (395 to the Tory tally of 21 5) they received only 8% more of the vote. In conclusion, the result of the election was caused by a variety of factors from both before, after and during the war. Perhaps most crucially though, was that it was not just because of what labor did do, but what the conservatives didn’t.