OCR British History 1918-1951 (ESSAY QUESTION)

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  • Created on: 03-06-19 15:50

The 1918 Election

At the end of the war, Lloyd George (Liberal) and Bonar Law (Conservative) agreed to continue with their coalition into peacetime. A joint letter carrying both their signatures was sent to all those candidates who were willing to declare themselves supporters of the coalition, this became known as the "coupon" and led to the election being known as the "coupon election"

Asquith and Lloyd George rivalry - Asquith refused to join the government as Lord Chancellor and Labour withdrew from the coalition and returned to opposition

Lloyd George may have been seen as the man who won the war, but the Conservatives dominated his post-war coalition and he then became known as the Prime Minister without a Party. His own political position was very precarious, with Asquith in control of the Liberal Party which LG had once belonged to, and many Conservatives not trusting him given political clashes with him that had happened before the war

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The Decline of the Liberal Party by 1924

  • Short term factors:
  • The coupon election split the liberals between pro Lloyd George and pro Asquith
  • Remaining Liberal beliefs, such as free trade, stopped being a political issue in 1924 as Baldwin dropped this policy when Churchill, a free trade supporter, became Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Rise of Labour Party and MacDonald established himself as a creditable leader. Liberals looked weak by supporting Labour and made Liberals look less creditable
  • Most Liberal supporters who admired progressive and peaceful foreign policy, domestic reforms and growing class divisions went to Labour, and they gained 1mil. extra votes, with Liberal losing votes
  • Long term factors:
  • Liberal supporters found their needs met by other parties – extension of female electorate & working class men voted labour.
  • Association of LG liberals with representative action from 1918 – 22 in Ireland & retreat from reform & forced cuts weakened support
  • Liberals did not represent either major economic interest in industry & financial interests which were problem at the time. Liberals didn’t defend against socialism or state control.
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Lloyd George's fall from power, 1922

  • Lloyd George had minimal influence in politics after 1918 because he was seen as the man without a party due to the Conservative dominated coalition,   The coalition government was weak for LG as he split from the Liberals and only had over 133 Liberal Mp’s while Conservatives had 383 Mp’s
  • Housing - Homes fit for Heroes, Addison's housing act. Addison was not suited to the economics of Housing due to his role as Minister for Health. Huge amounts of public spending was put into paying for industry subsidy. When the increase of the population came about, there was a shortage of around 800,000 homes among the poorest in the community. This contributed to Lloyd George's downfall.
  • Honours Scandal - LG had no respect to the honours system and offered knighthoods and peerages which ranged from £10,000 for a knighthood and £50,000 for a peerage, this angered the Conservatives as it showed that they were working with someone who was corrupting the government and that he didnt share any of the money with them
  • Ireland - LG put was in a tricky situation with Ireland as Sin Fein was rebelling against British Rule and set up an Irish Republic and Irish Republic Army. LG sent Black and Tans which were soldiers who couldn’t fit back into everyday life, which slaughtered and murdered many guilty and innocent. (Against the Tories decisions).
  • Geddes Axe - Lloyd George was pressured to cut back on government spending and benefits unable to fulfil election promises on homes fit for heroes. They had to cut £1million already on top of £75million. LG’s days were already numbered as the public had expectations for a better society and alienated the working class turning them towards Labour.
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1922 and 1923 General Elections

1922 Election

  • Economic situation - post-war debt, economy was in recession, high employment
  • Victory for Conservatives with a majority of over 100
  • Bonar Law resigned due to ill health

1923 Election

  • Baldwin calls an election in 1923 as he sought a mandate for his government, he fought for the idea of protectionism
  • Conservatives win with Labour second
  • But Conservatives have a significantly reduced majority

The First Labour Government

MacDonald's Aims: To prove the electorate Labour was ready and fit to govern effectively and moderately. He wanted to establish that Labour could tackle important foreign and domestic issues by supporting the League of Nations, and improving international relations with France by introducing the Dawes Plan. Labour wanted to deal with house shortages, unemployment and reduction of duties to keep the standard of living low and encourage free trade.

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The First Labour Government 1924 - DOMESTIC POLICI

  • Wheatley's Housing Act: the subsidy paid to private builders for each property they built for council housing was raised from £6 to £9; the annual payment to local councils was extended from 20 years to 40 years
  • Education: Raised the school leaving age to 15, the adult education grant was tripled, maintenance allowances for young people in secondary schools were increased, approval was given to 40 new secondary schools, a survey was carried out to provide for the replacement of as many of the more insanitary or obsolete schools as possible, and 40 was set as the maximum class size in elementary school
  • Trade Union Links: The Agricultural Wages Act restored minimum wages for agricultural workers, and increased to 30 shillings a week. Miner's Silicosis was included within the provisions for workmen's compensation, while the London Traffic Act 1924, which provided for the regulation of London Traffic, regulated privately owned public transport: setting timetables and safety standards
  • Campbell Case - the governemtn was accused of tinterfering with the justice system by using its influence to have a prosecution withdrawn against a left-wing journalist, Campbell, who had been charged with promoting mutiny by urging troops to disobey orders if ever they were called on to fire on striking workers. This was seen as a bad influence for the Labour Party as MacDonald was interfering where he did not need to be
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The First Labour Government 1924 - FOREIGN POLICIE

  • Unemployment Benefit - Unemployment benefit payments were increased from 15 shillings to 18 shillings a week for men, and from 12 shillings to 15 shillings for women. the gap between periods of benefit under the unemployment insurance scheme was also abolished. This drew criticism within the Labour party as MacDonald was spending small and made no serious attempt to tackle unemployment
  • League of Nations: This was an intergovernmental organisation founded as a result of the Paris PeaceConference that ended the WW!. Ramsay MacDonald was the first and only Prime Minister to attend the League of Nations and he helped form the Geneva Protocol
  • Geneva Protovol: Its main proposals were that nations should: agree to accept that disputes would be settles by collective decisions, consider active ways of achieving disarmament, and act together to prevent or deal with the enprovoked aggression
  • The Dawes Plan: Its main terms were: France agreed to lower the reparations figure to a level which would not cripple Germany, Germany was to be allowed to pay the lower rate for 5 years, which would give its industry the chance to recover, Germany was to be entitles to raise international loans to help it recover economically, and Britian was to act as go-between, collecting the sums paid by Germany
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The First Labour Government 1924 - FOREIGN POLICIE

  • Ruhr: in 1923 German government was unable to pay the reparations required under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The French and Belgian governments responded by sending troops to the Ruhr, the main centre of Germany's coal, iron and steel production. The German people were outraged and industrialists who had investments in the Ruhr organized a passive resistance campaign. This led to a collapse of the German economy
  • Russia: Britain agreed to advance a £30million loan to the Soviet Union, in return, the Soviet Union would pay compensation for the British financial assets it had seized after the Russian Revolution
  • The Zinoviev Letter: This addressed to the British Communist Party, urging its members to infiltrate the Labour Party and use it to bring down the British State. The letter is believed to be forged by white Russian emidres to suggest tht the Labour Party was a front for Soviet subversion
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The General Strike 1926


  • Demand for coal had fallen due to foreign competition and substitues (oil
  • coal mines were old and inefficient - miners wanted nationalisation and better working conditions
  • 1913 - dockers, miners and railwaymen had formed a triple alliance
  • 1925 - back on the Gold Standard - British exports became more expensive
  • Samual Commission established - unions though victory "red friday"
  • it rejected nationalisation and favoured wage cuts - owners declared miners would be locked out unless they accepted wage cuts and longer hours
  • Miners slogan - "not a penny off, not a second on the day"
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The General Strike 1926

Reasons for its fail:

  • Trade Unions - only select unions were called out to strike (transport, printers, heavy industry/miners and gas & electricity) as the TUC didn't really want a strike since they knew it'd be ineffective due to the government preparations. There was a lack of cohesion and organisation between the striking unions and this added to the failure
  • Government - they had been preparing for a strike since Red Friday in 1925, stockpiling coal and set up the OMS (Organisation of the maintenance of Supplies) which was a national network of volunteers which helped to maintain vital services should a strike occur. the government had been hoping for a strike to help crush the trade unions but it didn't have a large impact on the functioning of the country and it failed
  • Lack of Public Support - many people sympathised with the miners but didn't help the TUC. Ex-army officers enrolled as special constables and volunteered as bus and train drivers.
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The Second Labour Government 1929-1931


  • Housing Act 1930, introduced by Arthur Greenwood, minister of Health - Reintroduced government subsidies for council housing and enforced slum clearance by granting greater power to local authorities to enforce slum clearance
  • Education Bill 1930, introduced by Charles Trevelyan - Raised the school leaving age to 15
  • Coal Mines Act 1930 - reduced miners working hours from 8 hour shifts to 7.5 hour shifts, employers were entitled to fix minimum wages and production quotas, set up a commission to consider how unprofitable mines could be phased out with as least damage to miners' livelihoods
  • Agricultural Marketing Act 1931 - Improved supply of food for the public. Set up boards of food producers with the power to fix prices and arrange supplies more efficiently
  • London Transport Bill 1931, introduced by Herbert Morrison - Created a public corporation responsible for providing cheap and efficient bus and underground transport for London's population
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The Second Labour Government 1929-1931

Foreign Affairs

  • Young Plan (named after Owen Young) - This greatly reduced Germany's reparation payments and advanced it a loan of $300 million. This saw Germany again as an equal nation
  • Anglo-Societ Relations
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The Fall of the Second Labour Government

  • Minority Government - Inability to push through radical reforms. Several figures on the left urged Labour not to form a government as they were still a minority. Largest party but lacked overall majority and relied on Liberal support
  • The impact of the Great Depression - By May 1931, unemployment has risen from 1million in 1929, to 2.5 million, By 1932, exports had fallen by 1/3. Phillip Snowden's solution - produce balanced budgets, cut government spending to reduce deficit and maintain free trade and gold standard, continuation of trading should lead to economic growth eventually
  • Oswold Mosley - proposeda radical solution to unemployment - government should borrow to finance the increased public spending, provide loans to industry, and take control over the British economy
  • Ramsay MacDonald - Restricted the number of left wing members, acted only as Prime Minister, not foreign secretary. MacDonald sided with Snowden's plan rather than Mosley's
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The 1931 Economic Crisis

  • Unemployment stood at 2.5 million. By April unemployment insurance deficit of £9M. Snowden increased expenditure on public words from £70M to £140M. Income tax increased to 22.5%
  • Only solutions to balance budget was; increase Tax, introduce tariffs, come off gold standard or cut gov spending.
  • The crisis came when a run on the £ occurred. Due to the collapse of European banks in April meaning loss of British investment abroad. Foreign investors feared British banks faced bankruptcy after May report and withdrew funds at alarming quantities. 
  • Britain still on gold and investors asked for money in gold and by July ¼ britsh gold reserves been used.
  • Snowdon convinced to maintain gold standard the gov would need to borrow from internation banks (USA & France) but conditions of loan to cut spending to make budget balance which divided labour government to cut unemployment benefit.
  • MacDionald sided with Snowden's solution to tackle unemployment rather than Mosley's radical solution
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Abdication Crisis 1936

  • King George V died January 1936, the new King Edward VIII aged 41 seemed to challenge political establishment.  Been a popular prince of wales who cared about problems and hardships of his people.
  • King Edward was a bachelor but in summer 1936 he had fallen in love with Mrs Wallis Simpson & determined to marry her. She was American who was divorced once, remarried and persuing the divorce of her second husband.
  • The marriage was opposed by the governments of the UK and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth
  • Religious, legal, political and moral objections were raised. As British monarch, Edward was the nominal head of the Church of England, which did not allow divorced people to remarry if their ex-spouse was still alive
  • Despite this opposition, Edward declared that he still intended to marry her whether his governments approved or not. The widespread unwillingness to accept Simpson as a consort the belief that she was politically and socially unsiutable as one and Edward's refusal to give her up, led to his abdication in 1936
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National Government 1931-1939

  • Emergency government 24th August 1931
  • Cabinet of:
    • 4 members of MacDonald's previous ministry
    • 4 Conservatives
    • 2 Liberals
  • The role was to pass the national economy act

Key Problems

  • HUge budget deficit spending more that we were making
  • Slump in Global Trade
  • Industrial stagnation and unemployment in "depressed areas"

Key Aims

  • To create financial stability
  • To encourage international trade
  • To promote industrial growth
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National Government 1931-1939

Political Impact

  • Conservative Strengths
    • Baldwin was the image of the National Government
    • Press and Business leaders supported the conservatives
    • Conservative establishment - links to the monarchy/legal profession etc.
    • seen as "party of economic competence"
  • Labour Weaknesses
    • They remained a divided party
    • The 1931 election saw Labour lose many of its most experienced politicians
    • New leader, Clement Atlee was unexciting and unknown
    • Associated with economic disasters
    • Bitterness towards MacDonald, therefore associated with the Labour Party
    • Atlee was proved to be a quietly capable leader and unified the party
    • Received 36% of the vote in 1935, more than in 1929 when they won the election
    • losses looked worse because of the "first past the post" system. 52 MPs in 1931, 154 MPs in 1935 but only 4%d ifference in votes
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National Government 1931-1939

How well did the National Government deal with economic problems?

  • George V persuaded Ramsay MacDonald to for a coalition and put 'country before party'
  • MacDonald, Snowden, JH Thomas and Lord Sankey stayed
  • Snowden made economies of £70 million in government expenditure, including 10% unemployment benefit cut, increased taxation, standard rate 22.5% to 25%
  • These measures balanced the budget and allowed Britain to secure  foreign loan
  • But nevertheless, still forced to come off the gold standard 17th September 1931

What were the causes, nature and extent of economic recovery after 1931?

  • 1 - Recovery attempts of the National Government partly helped. the economic policies of the government were mostly cautious, pro-conservative and small scale in impact. The did not lead to any significant economic recovery. The policies included:
    • Cuts in umeployment benefit and pay for public sector employees (teachers)
    • Income tax was increased
    • Decision to come off the Gold Standard. Value of the £ went down by 30% so helping exports
    • Interest rates were reduced by 2%
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National Government 1931-1939

    • Tariffs were put on foreign goods to help UK companies
    • Special areas act - provided aid money to depressed areas
    • Schemes set up to help retrain unemployed or move to areas of employment
    • Attempts were ade to reorganise the staple industries (industris that could not afford to fail) and to encourage new inductries to move into depressed areas
  • 2 - The boom in house building and the development of the new industries (cars) helped create work
  • 3 - The world economy generally started to recover
    • This is part of the trade cycle of booms and busts repeating themselves
    • Since prices in the Depression fell, especially in raw materials, this meant production costs fell. Goods became cheaper and sales went up. This creates jobs and more people have more money to spend - so encouraing recover - The Multiplier Effect
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Communist Threats

  • The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) was formed in 1920 by a group of revolutionary socialists. Lenin had provided at least £55,000 (ovver £1 million today) to help fund the CPGB
  • Aims - Communism relied on economic and social collapse as a catalyst for change. "The communists in conference assembled declare for the soviet system as a means whereby the working class shall achieve power and take control of the forces of production
  • Growth, level of support - CPGB rapidly grew to a membership of 2,500. Communist ideas were strong among intellectuals. votes in 1931 - 74,824. CPGB membership grew from 2,500 to 18,000 in the 1930s
  • Reasons for the changes in levels of support - Communists made a big impression in local government. They played a prominent role in the 1930's in protests over rent payments and housing conditions
  • Limiting Factors - Minorty. CPGB depended, for its finds, largely on secret grants from the Soviet Union, soviet paymens were a waste
  • Actions taken by the government - CPGB set up the National Unemployed Workers' movement in 1921. The National Government took action against extreme parties such as the CPGB through measure such as the Public Order Act 1936 (movement to control extreme political movement)
  • Level of threat posed - CPGB posed a larger threat than Mosley and the BUF. The aggression and brutality of Nazi Germany gave a form of acceptability to Soviet communism
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Fascist Threat

  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651) - his theory of absolutism was highly influential in fascist theory. Oswald Mosley claimed Oliver Cromwell bought about "the first fascist age in England". British Union of Fascists (BUF) 1932 set up by Oswald Mosley
  • Aims - Had no real plan of actions, apart from ideas on umemployment, and relied greatly on stirring up hatred in an unsophisticated political way
  • Growth, level of support - By 1939, the BUF's total membership was approaching 20,000, however in 1940, it was banned by the government
  • Reasons for change in levels of support - People began to associate the BUF and its policies, ideas and actions with Oswald Mosley and by the end of 1936, Mosley had become the hated leader of a radical oppositional movement, (one cause was Mosley's political sympathy to German National Socialism and Adolf Hitler)
  • Limiting Factors - The party was dependent on Oswald Mosley, his abilities, leadership, etc. Had no real plan of action. Britain had a stable politica,l system which came under no threat from movements like the BUF. The BUF longed for a social and economic breakdown, however, it never occurred, MOsley remained "an opportunist for whom no opportunity came"
  • Actions taken by the government - By May 1940, the BUF was banned by the government. National Government took action against extreme parties through measures such as the Public Order Act 1936 - movement to control extreme political movements such as the BUF
  • Level of threat posed - No serious threat to Britain's stable political system as they had no real plan of action
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Economic Problems and Solutions

  • Central government lacked control over vital areas of the war economy - Committees and ministers were set up to control food, shipping and aircraft production     * The government ran out of money - Large loans and grants were made from other countries. In 1941, the lend-lease agreement was made with the USA lending £27.5 billion and establishing US military bases throughout Great Britain. Taxes were raised, war bonds were introduced through which private individuals and companies loaned the government £8.5 billion
  • People were afraid of the consequences of the blitz, particularly the cost of healthcare - Free treatment was made available for victims of the bombing and a review launched to investigate the creation of the NHS
  • People began to demand social reform - Acts were introduced to make a better post war society. The 1944 Butler Education Act introduced compulsory secondary education and raised the school leaving age to 16
  • In 1939, there were 1 million unemployed yet the Biritsh Army numbered only 683,000 - As well as military conscription, the government introduced industrial conscription, meaning that men could be forced to work in any area of the country in any job, on demand
  • Food imports had to be cut as money was spent on raw material imports needed by the military - Food rationing was introduced. It was made illegal to waste food and poster campaigns encouraged people to grow their own food or "Dig for Victory"
  • The government had too many restrictions unpon it to win this new kind of "total war" - The Emergency Powers Acts, 1939, gave the government huge power to remove restrictions and make regulations to contol almost anything it deemed necessary for national security
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Why did Churchill become Prime Minister in 1940

  • Churchill mainly got the job out of luck
  • Many people have recalled Winston Churchill as very popular and universally respected, this was not the pase
  • Churchill, rather than Chamberlain, was held responsible for the unsuccessful Norwegian campaign
  • Even though Churchill's reputation was high in 1940, because of his arguing that Hitler could not be trusted, and events proved him right, he wasn't everyone's choice as PM
  • An opinion poll took place in April 1940, this revealed that Anthony Eden (foreign secretary 1935-8, Donimons Secretary 1939-40) was supported by more people than Churchill
  • When Chamberlain resigned, he called a meeting with Lord Halifax (the current foreign secretary at the time) and Churchill
  • The meeting was to make a decision on who was next PM
  • Halifax made excuses and turned PM down, Churchill was lucky
  • Many expected him to fe a failure as PM. A civil servant was recalled to say that the thought of him as PM "sent a cold chill down the spines of the staff at 10 Downing Street"
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The Impact of War on Britain

  • Evacuation
    • 1st June-3rd September - 3.5 million moved house, many were newly wed, many were children (1.5 million moved 3 days before the war started, accompnied by teachers and mothers if they were under 5). Anywhere with room to spare had to have at least 1 child. Government paid 52 1/2 per week for room import
    • 50% of children had lice, many only had one set of clothes, 10% were not toilet trained, and some didn't even know what a bed was for and slept under it or were found standing in a corner.
    • for the first time, the well saw how poor the poor was. they were shocked, saddened and many felt guilty
  • Home front
    • Most feared air raids, animals also evacuated
    • Many feared gas attacks, gas masks were issued
    • Blackouts enforced on the 1st September. On 3rd September - conscription for all men aged 18-41
    • No rationing until January 1940 - bacon, sugar and butter, others rationed later on. Restaurants rationed in 1942, meals could cost no more than 25p
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The Impact of War on Britain

Churchill takes over

  • April 1940 - Chamberlain: 'Hitler missed the bus' - within days, Denmark and Norway were invaded
  • 10th May - Chamberlain resigns and replaced by Churchill
  • Germany entered Holland, Belgium and later Luxemburg. Germany would soon turn to France
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Churchill's Wartime Leadership

  • He devoted himself totally to winning the war
  • Chose to govern through a war cabinet - "All I wanted was compliance with my wished after reasonable discussion"
  • There were strong critisisms of his conduct of war policy
  • Opinion polls showed that Chirchill's popularity was at times as high as 88% and never dropped below 78%
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Beveridge Report 1942

  • This was a government report which aimed to provide a comprehensive system of social insurance. It proposed that all working people should pay a weekly contribution to the state of Britain after the war. In return, benefits would be paid to the unemployed, the sick, the retired and the widowed. William Beveridge wanted to ensure that there was an acceptable minimum standard of living in Britain below which nobody fell. Beveridge's Aims (Five Giants):
  • Want (Poverty) - The need for an adequate income for all
    • Solution - National Insurance Act in 1946 built on the 1911 act, all working age people had to pay money to the government weekly which led to them being given help whenever they needed it. The Family Allowance Act 1945, gave weekly payments to all mothers with two or more children. For those who could not afford to pay National Insurance, the National Assistance Act was introduced to allow poor people to apply for extra financial help if they needed it
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Beveridge Report 1942

  • Disease (Health) - The need for access to health care
    • Solution - Comprehensive health service. NHS, set up in 1948, had three aims - Universal access, treat all medical problems and free at the point of use. Before this, more than half of the British population had no medical cover
  • Ignorance (Education) - The need for access to educational opportunity
    • Solution - Effective education system. The Butler Education Act 1944 - aimed to improve education by raising the school leaving age to 15, all children would get a secondary education. All children also had to sit an exam at the age of 11. Those who passed, went to better schools (e.g. grammar schools), meaning they could get better jobs. Those who failed, went to schools where they received technical training
  • Squalor (Housing) - The need for adequate housing
    • Solution - Slum clearance and rehousing. New Towns Act 1946 - this aimed to improve housing by building new towns in Britain in nicer areas than crowded cities. 14 new towns were built by 1951 creating new homes and communities
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Beveridge Report 1942

  • Idleness (Jobs) - The need for gainful employment
    • Solution - Full employment. Nationalisation - The Labour Government believed that the country should control important industries, such as coal mining, steel works and rail networks. Once the government owned these industries, they could tax money to keep unprofitable companies in business. This meant there were more people in work. However, this only helped people already in work and not those who were unemployed, it might have even put companies off of hiring new people because of how costly it might be, due to things like paid holidays which were being introduced
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The 1945 Election

  • Conservative Weaknesses
    • Despite Churchill's great popularity during the war, much of the public had associated his Conservative Party with the Great Depression of the 1930's as well as the policy of appeasement with Neville Chamberlain, who was critised for negotiating with Hitler and the pre-war policy of appeasement towards Britain's Fascist enemies. Although Churchill had opposed to this, the public still associated it with his party
    • As the Conservative party revolved around Churchill, the public believed it would then focus more on foreign affairs in the aftermath of the conflict rather than recontructing and rebuilding the state of Britain after the war as the party's campaign concentrated too much on Churchill as a war hero. This over concentration lead to the belief that the party would be incapable of providing the social and economic recontruction that was vital for Britain. Therefore, their election campaign was poor and weak due to Churchill's over-confidence that he would be victorious in the election
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The 1945 Election

Labour's Advantages

  • Atlee offered peace and prosperity. The party's policies included social reform, workers' rights, housing, low unemployment and a healthcare systm in the form of the NHS. Labour was seen as a more fitting Party to carry out thye reconstruction of Britain after the war, as they encouraged reform and recontruction. Figures (e.g. Atlee) had gained experience as ministers in the wartime coalition and had gained respect of the electorate
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Why did Labour win the 1945 General Election?

  • Winston Chirchill
    • Seen as a wartime leader but not the right man for post-war peacetime recontruction. Churchill was not seen as big an asset as many might have expected. Many people associated him with the nation as a whole and not with his party. A large % of armed service personnel voted Labour
  • Holding an election too soon after the war
    • The party usually had the advantage of being a well oiled "party machine" but with people still in uniform, this "machine" was unable to function properly.
    • Those who might have voted Conservative were still out of the country
  • The Labour election campaign
    • "Let us Face the Future" set out comprehensive plans to "win the peace". It proposed nationalisation of the Bank of England, fuel and power, inland transport and iron and steel. Controls on raw materials and food prices, maintainance employment, NHS and social security, and controls on the location of industry
  • Complacency
    • Conservatives believed a grateful nation would thank Churchill but underestimated Labour's chances
  • Gestapo Speech (Campaign errors)
    • Churchill lost many votes through his Gestapo speech. He unwisely tried to score voters with the idea that voting Labour would mean a totalitarian state control and secret police
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The Economy under Labour 1945

  • Wartime debts of £4198 million
  • The balance of payments crisis (a measurement of the profit or loss on trade in a given period. When the price of imports outstrips the income from exports, financial crisis follows) Balance of payments deficit of £870 million
  • Exports of manufacturers had dropped by 60% in wartime. Invisible exports (The sale of financial and insurance services to foreign buyers, traditionally one of Britain's major sources of income from abroad) had shrunk from £248million in 1938 to £120 million in 1946
  • The dollar gap. Since the sterling was weaker than the dollar, the goods that Britain bought from North America had to be paid for in dollars
  • Defense expenditure quintupled between 1938 and 1946
  • Heavy demands on fuel and power supplies
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Labour Government ->1951

  • What did they do right?
    • Large scale nationalisation, Welfare state
    • Indian independence
    • 1 million new homes
    • NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) a defensive alliance formed in 1949 by Britain, France and the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) as a safeguard against Soviet expansion into Western Europe. The USA became a member by invitation
  • Why were they accused of not going far enough?
    • Did not exploit their majority and introduce radical reforms
    • Nationalisation was not widespread - mostly non profit making concerns
    • Support from the USA - locked into a cold war with the USSR
    • Attempted too much too soon - priority should have been financial recovery and infrastructure, industry not welfare
  • Despite 6 years in goverment and supposedly being a radical party two fundamental facts remained unchanged
    • Britain's class structure remained largely unaltered
    • Social reform had not greatly raised the conditions and status of women
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The 1950 and 1951 Elections

1950 - It was evident from the results of the 1950 General Election that Labour's majority over the Conservatives was being cut from 180 to 17. The reason for its drop was that the Conservatives were recovering from 1945 and had gained over 2.5 million votes, Leaving Labour with a majority of only 5. Atlee decided to struggle on but the small majority proved so tight that, when there was a close vote in the commons, sick MP's were being bought from their hospital beds. This showed a large strain on Atlee to govern in this way, and after 20 months, he called a General Election

Reasons for Labour's defeat in 1951

  • Atlee's government was worn down by heavy economic and financial difficulties
  • The government was exausted after 6 years in office
  • A number of its ministers, Clement Atlee, Herbert Morrison and Ernest Bevin, had been working continuously since 1940
  • Serious divisions had developed between the right and left of the party over economic, welfare and foreign policies
  • Resentment amont some trade unions at Labour's slowness in responding to workers' demands
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The 1950 and 1951 Elections

  • The shrinking in the 1950 election of its large majority made governing difficult and damaged morale for the party
  • Labour found it difficult to shake off its image as a party of rationing and high taxation
  • Leading ministers, such as Stafford Cripps and chancellor of the exchequer did not present an attractive picture of the electorate
  • Britain's entry into the Korean War in 1950 made Labour's left wing unhappy

Conservative Strengths

  • The Conservatives had begun to recover from the shock of their defeat in 1945
  • The 1950 election had seen an infux of bright young Conservative MP's eager to battle against a tiring government
  • Under the direction of Lord Woolton, the Conservative Party had reformed its finances and constituency organisation and was much better fitted to fight for seats and votes than in 1945
  • The attack on the Givernment's nationalisation of iron and steel provided a strong platform for the Conservative opposition
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