United Kingdom general election, 1945


United Kingdom general election, 1945

Infobox Election
election_name = United Kingdom general election, 1945
country = United Kingdom
type = parliamentary
ongoing = no
previous_election = United Kingdom general election, 1935
previous_year = 1935
previous_mps = MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1935
next_election = United Kingdom general election, 1950
next_year = 1950
next_mps = MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1950
seats_for_election = All 638 seats to the House of Commons
election_date = 5 July 1945



leader2 = Winston Churchill
leader_since2 = 10 May 1940
party2 = Conservative Party (UK)
leaders_seat2 = Woodford
last_election2 = 386 seats, 47.8%
seats2 = 197
seat_change2 = -190
popular_vote2 = 8,716,211
percentage2 = 36.2%
swing2 = %



leader1 = Clement Attlee
leader_since1 = 25 October 1935
party1 = Labour Party (UK)
leaders_seat1 = Limehouse
last_election1 = 154 seats, 38%
seats1 = 393
seat_change1 = +239
popular_vote1 = 11,967,746
percentage1 = 49.71%
swing1 = %



leader3 = Archibald Sinclair
leader_since3 = 26 November 1935
party3 = Liberal Party (UK)
leaders_seat3 = Caithness and Sutherland (defeated)
last_election3 = 21 seats, 6.7%
seats3 = 12
seat_change3 = -9
popular_vote3 = 2,177,938
percentage3 = 9.04%
swing3 = %
title = PM
before_election = Winston Churchill
before_party = Conservative Party (UK)
after_election = Clement Attlee
after_party = Labour Party (UK)
The United Kingdom General Election of 1945 was a general elections held on 5 July 1945, with delayed polls taking place on 12 July and in Nelson and Colne on 19 July. It was ultimately counted and declared on 26 July, due in part to the time it took to transport the votes of those serving overseas.

A khaki election held just months after VE Day, it was the first general election to be held since 1935, as general elections had been suspended until the Allied victory in the Second World War had been assured. It resulted in the shock election defeat of the Conservatives led by Winston Churchill and the landslide victory of the Labour Party led by Clement Attlee, who won a majority of 145 seats.

The result of the election was almost totally unexpected, given the heroic status of Winston Churchill, but reflected the voters' belief that the Labour Party were better able to rebuild the country following the war than the Conservatives. Churchill and the Conservatives are also generally considered to have run a poor campaign in comparison to Labour; Churchill's statement that Attlee's programme would require a Gestapo-esque body to implement is considered to have been particularly poorly judged.Fact|date=September 2008 Equally, whilst voters respected and liked Churchill's wartime record, they were more distrustful of the Conservative Party's domestic and foreign policy record in the late thirties. Labour had also been given, during the war, the opportunity to display to the electorate their domestic competence in government under men such as Attlee, Herbert Morrison and Ernest Bevin at the Ministry of Labour.

The Labour Party ran on promises to create full employment, a tax funded universal National Health Service, and a cradle-to-grave welfare state, with the campaign message 'Let us face the future.'

This was the first election in which Labour gained a majority of seats, and also the first time it won a plurality of votes. If it had won another 68,767 or 0.3% of votes it would have had over 50% of all those cast: the closest any party has come a majority of all votes since 1931.

Results

Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Labour Party (UK)
candidates = 603
seats = 393
gain =
loss =
net = + 239
votes = 11,967,746
votes % = 49.71
seats % = 61.406
plus/minus =
government = yes
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidates = 559
seats = 197
gain =
loss =
net = - 190
votes = 8,716,211
votes % = 36.20
seats % = 30.781
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Liberal Party (UK)
candidates = 306
seats = 12
gain =
loss =
net = - 9
votes = 2,177,938
votes % = 9.04
seats % = 1.875
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = National Liberal Party (UK)
candidates = 49
seats = 11
gain =
loss =
net = - 22
votes = 686,652
votes % = 2.9
seats % = 1.178
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Independent (politician)
candidates = 38
seats = 8
gain = 6
loss = 0
net = + 6
votes = 133,191
votes % = 0.6
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary with Candidates
party = National
candidates = 10
seats = 2
gain = 2
loss = 1
net = + 1
votes = 130,513
votes % = 0.5
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Common Wealth Party
candidates = 23
seats = 1
gain = 1
loss = 0
net = + 1
votes = 110,634
votes % = 0.5
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Communist Party of Great Britain
candidates = 21
seats = 2
gain = 1
loss = 0
net = + 1
votes = 97,945
votes % = 0.4
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Nationalist Party (Northern Ireland)
candidates = 3
seats = 2
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 92,819
votes % = 0.4
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary with Candidates
party = National Independent
candidates = 13
seats = 2
gain =
loss =
net = 0
votes = 65,171
votes % = 0.3
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Independent Labour
candidates = 7
seats = 2
gain =
loss =
net = 0
votes = 63,135
votes % = 0.3
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Independent Conservative
candidates = 6
seats = 2
gain = 2
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 57,823
votes % = 0.2
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Independent Labour Party
candidates = 5
seats = 3
gain = 0
loss = 1
net = - 1
votes = 46,769
votes % = 0.2
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Independent Progressive
candidates = 7
seats = 1
gain = 1
loss = 0
net = + 1
votes = 35,072
votes % = 0.1
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Independent Liberal
candidates = 3
seats = 2
gain = 2
loss = 0
net = + 2
votes = 30,450
votes % = 0.1
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Scottish National Party
candidates = 8
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 26,707
votes % = 0.1
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Plaid Cymru
candidates = 7
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 16,017
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Commonwealth Labour Party
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 14,096
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Independent Nationalist
candidates = 4
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 5,430
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary with Candidates
party = Liverpool Protestant
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 2,601
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary with Candidates
party = Christian Pacifist
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 2,381
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Democratic Party (UK, 1942)
candidates = 5
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,809
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary with Candidates
party = Agriculturist
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,068
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Socialist Party of Great Britain
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 472
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary with Candidates
party = United Socialist
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 300
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =

"Total votes cast: 24,073,025. All parties shown. Conservative total includes Ulster Unionists."

Reason for Labour victory

With the Second World War coming to an end in Europe, the Labour Party decided to pull out of the wartime national government, precipitating an election which took place in July 1945. King George VI dissolved Parliament, which had been sitting for ten years without an election. What followed was perhaps one of the greatest swings 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.

The single greatest factor in Labour's dramatic win appeared to be the policy of social reform. In one opinion poll, 41% of respondents considered housing to be the single most important issue that faced the country, 15% stated the Labour policy of full employment, 7% mentioned social security, 6% nationalisation and just 5% international security, which was emphasised by the Conservatives. The Beveridge Report, published in 1942, proposed the creation of a Welfare State. It called for a dramatic turn in British social policy, with provision for nationalised health care, expanded state funded education, national insurance and a new housing policy. The report was extremely popular, and copies of its findings were widely purchased, turning it into a best-seller. The Labour Party adopted the report eagerly, whereas the Conservatives largely dismissed many of its suggestions, claiming they could not be afforded. Labour offered a new comprehensive welfare policy, reflecting a general consensus that social changes were needed. The Conservatives were not willing to make the same concessions that Labour proposed, and hence appeared disjointed with public opinion.

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. As Churchill's personal popularity remained high, Conservatives were confident of victory and based much of their election campaign on this, rather than propose new programmes. However people distinguished between Churchill and his party, a contrast which Labour repeatedly emphasised throughout the campaign.

In addition to the poor Conservative election strategy, Churchill went so far as to accuse Attlee of seeking to behave as a dictator, in spite of Attlee's service in Churchill's war cabinet. In the most famous incident of the campaign, Churchill's first election broadcast on 4 June backfired dramatically and memorably. Denouncing his former coalition partners, he declared that Labour "would have to fall back on some form of a Gestapo" to impose socialism on Britain. Attlee responded the next night by ironically thanking the prime minister for demonstrating to people the difference between Churchill the great wartime leader and peacetime politician, and argued the case for public control of industry.

Another blow to the Conservative campaign was the memory of the 1930s policy of appeasement, which had been conducted by Churchill's Conservative predecessors, Neville Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin, and was at this stage widely discredited for allowing Hitler to become too strong. Fact|date=January 2008 The inter-war period had been dominated by Conservatives. Excepting two brief minority Labour governments in 1924 and from 1929 to 1931, the Conservatives had been in power for its entirety. As a result the Conservatives were generally blamed for the era's mistakes, not merely for appeasement but for the inflation and unemployment of the Great Depression. Fact|date=January 2008 Many voters felt that the while the war of 1914-1918 had been won, the peace that followed had been lost. Labour played to the concept of "winning the peace" that would follow the second war.

Possibly for this reason, there was especially strong support for Labour in the armed services, who feared returning to the unemployment and homelessness to which the soldiers of the First World War had returned. Fact|date=January 2008 Anthony Burgess remarked that Churchill himself was not nearly as popular with soldiers at the front as with officers and civilians: he noted that Churchill often smoked cigars in front of soldiers who hadn't had a decent cigarette in days.

References

*F. W. S. Craig, "British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987"
* [http://www.election.demon.co.uk/geresults.html United Kingdom election results - summary results 1885-1979]
* [http://ndpbeta.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/967373 "Labour Wins" - newspaper report from the Melbourne "Argus", 27 July 1945]

See also

* MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1945
* 1945 Prime Minister's Resignation Honours

Bibliography

*cite book | author=Nicholas, H. | title=The British General Election of 1950 | year=1951 | publisher=Macmillan | location=London

Manifestos

* [http://www.psr.keele.ac.uk/area/uk/man/con45.htm Mr. Churchill's Declaration of Policy to the Electors] - 1945 Conservative manifesto.
* [http://www.psr.keele.ac.uk/area/uk/man/lab45.htm Let Us Face the Future] - 1945 Labour Party manifesto.
* [http://www.psr.keele.ac.uk/area/uk/man/lib45.htm 20 Point Manifesto of the Liberal Party] - 1945 Liberal Party manifesto.


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