1945 And All That
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.
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