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Blood, Sweat, and ToilRemaking the British Working Class, 1939-1945$
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Geoffrey G. Field

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199604111

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604111.001.0001

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1945 And All That

1945 And All That

(p.335) 9 1945 And All That
Blood, Sweat, and Toil

Geoffrey G. Field

Oxford University Press

Why did the Labour Party defeat Churchill in the 1945 election. The chapter disputes the claim that little separated the programmes put forward by the two major parties and that Labour's victory was primarily a rejection of Conservatism rather than positive endorsement of its programme. It analyses public responses to the Beveridge report and the volatile, often contradictory nature of public attitudes 1943–5 when victory was expected and reconstruction debates gained new urgency. If the early war period saw deep dissatisfaction with politicians and a ‘movement away from party’, these years showed the resilience of traditional party structures as people anticipated the forthcoming election. Labour successfully presented itself both as a national party and as the representative of the working class. Significant numbers of middle-class voters supported Labour in 1945 but, ironically, the victory heralded a unique period when class became the major determinant of voting behaviour.

Keywords:   Beveridge report on social insurance, Labour Party, 1945 general election, Churchill coalition, public opinion in wartime

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