World War II: British Aftermath and Recovery--General Election (July 1945)

British World War II general election
Figure 1.-- A major event after VE Day was the British General Election (July 5). There was no requirement that Britain hold an election after VE Day. This was a decision that Prime-minister Churchill made. He thought fter 10 years, the time for an elction had come. After all, the fight agajnst the Axis had been to preserve democracy. His advisers argued against it. They understood that the British people were in a mood for change. Note the poster with Labour saying that they stood "For Prosperity." What would transpire would be World War II rationing continuing into the 1950s. Labour partisans still claim with a straight face that it was because of the War--ignoring the suucess on the Continnt by Germany snd other countries that were far more damaged by the War.

A major event after VE Day was the British General Election (July 5). There was no requirement that Britain hold an election after VE Day. This was a decision that Prime-minister Churchill made. He thought fter 10 years, the time for an election had come. After all, the fight against the Axis had been to preserve democracy. His advisers argued against it. They understood that the British people were in a mood for change. They advised Churchill to hold off from an immediate general elction so that the Government would have time to implement moderate conservative reforms. Churchill was intent, however, on an elction to show that the defeat of the Axis was a triumph for democracy. We suspect that dispite the assessment of advisers, he expected that his war time popularity would ensure a Conservtive Party victory. The result was not released for several weeks because of postponed voting in some constituencies and the delays on counting overseas ballots, especially the servicemen overseas (July 26). Britain because of the World War II emergency had gone over 10 years without a General Election. It was the first General Election to be held since 1935. The major parties (Conservatives, Labour, and Liberal) agreed to a coaltion government. Elections were suspended during the War and a National (unity) Government was formed by the major parties. The results shocked many. Prime-minister Churchill was enormously popular as a war leader. But the British people wanted change--meaning a peace benefit. British workers were convinced that socialism offered a more prosperous future than capitalism. They voted for Labour which promised fundamental social reforms. Labour was a socialist party. "Socialist and proud of it," was a Party slogan. They ran on a platform of significantly changing the British capitalist economy. Labour depicted capitalim as evil and convinced much of the British public who wanted change after a decade of austerity. It was a shatering electoral victory. Labour won nearly twice as many seats (393) as the Conservatives (197). Churchill used the term National Government, but he ran essentially with the support of the Conservatives. The Labour MPs selected their leader Clement Attlee as the new prime-minister. Churchill ran a poor campaign. He charged that Atlee would require a Gestapo-esque body to implement his program. Labour Party pledges included full employment, free universal health care, and a cradle-to-grave welfare state. This was basically a massive resistribution of income. The idea that a healthy capitalist economy was needed to pay for the cost of the new welfare system simply did not occur to men like Atlee who were intent on remaking British society. Labour's campaign slogan was 'Let us face the future.' This meant transforming Britain from a capitalist to a socialist state. A Labour tract read, ".It is intolerable that in the second half of the twentieth century the power to decide whether men and women have work or be unemployed and whether our children will have decent prospects or flounder in a dead-end, should rest with these small groups of monopolists. All the talk about the util­isation of science and about planning is meaningless unless the big concentrations of industry and financial power be­come the property of the people." Labour's plans included nationlizung major industries (mining, fuel and power, transport, and iron and steel). Labour also ntionalized the Bank of England. Except for the Soviet Union, whose economic failures, were not yet known, there had been no socialist contries. And the promoses of Labour (socialist) politicns were very aluring. King George offered Churchill the Order of the Garter, a dejected Churchill commented, "Why should I accept from my sovereign the Order of the Garter when his subjects have just given me the Order of the Boot?"







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Created: 8:40 AM 1/8/2019
Last updated: 8:41 AM 1/8/2019