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Why Did The Conservatives Loose The General Election Of 1945?

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Why did the Conservatives loose the general election of 1945?

The conservatives lost the general election in 1945 for a number of reasons some of which were the attitudes of many of the British after the war and the way the country had been run in the time leading up to the election. The labour party had gone from a party which people feared as being socialist to a party which during the war had shown was very much a balanced party which would not ruin the middle and upper classes and yet provide services that would help the poor and also be available to the other classes. The conservatives had put little effort into running the country whilst the war was going on and had assumed that winning the war would be enough to be re-elected. The conservatives had been linked to causing the war due to the appeasement methods and left the rule of Britain as a second priority up to the other men in the cabinet, mainly from the labour party. Labour had made advances on the much loved Welfare Reforms which the conservatives had failed to do leading up to the election leaving Labour looking ahead to the future but the Tories too involved in the war effort.

The conservatives had failed to make any policies or a real platform for the 1945 election which was conflicted by Labour's very advanced ideas of reforms and plans for the future with a clear set of policies and developments on the welfare state. The Conservatives had become split in views on the welfare reforms and for the first time, were less united than the new labour party. Churchill had proved himself a wartime leader but had made no effort to show to the public that he could be as productive as a peace time leader, overconfident and under organised, he and the party only spent Ð'Ј3,000 on publicity leading to the election as opposed to the Ð'Ј30,000 spent in 1935. He was not very close or involved with the rest of his party and listened mainly to his two cronies, Beaverbrook and Bracken. Churchill also seemed to come across as a more vicious man who cared more about winning the election that what it would mean and changing his policies (or making them) to become a better leader, this was shown particularly where he accused the labour government of leading to a socialist dictatorship and insulted Attlee. The label attached to the party was with many linking the hungry 30's to the party and the huge unemployment, they did very little to help which was shown dramatically in Jarrow where over 65% of the population were unemployed. Their were many areas with large unemployment at this time but the party only gave very little help in the form of small benefits after being pressured to do so, it was not enough which in Jarrow resulted in a march down from Jarrow towards London.

Although the Conservative party can be criticised for not doing enough from the 1930's to 1945 in Britain but they did in fact make many changes for the better. One of these was the devaluation of the pound which at first seemed a daunting idea but proved to be beneficial, the cost of living was cheaper, Britain became more competitive when it came to exporting goods and it was because of this that the lifestyles of many got better rather than worse during this time. Interest rates fell dramatically which actually encouraged people to spend more because it was not worth the income gained by leaving it in a bank and borrowing money was very cheap, these together resulted in the British spending more and setting up businesses so many prospered. Tariffs on imports meant that more money was kept in Britain but the new competitive Britain could buy back currency with the cheap exports. Unemployment actually fell from 2.5 million in August 1931 to 1.6 after July 1936. Men were put on retraining courses and some aid was given to the areas badly hit but this was nowhere near enough help. 2.7 million houses had been built in the 30's largely without any state subsidy, the number of cars on the road doubled and the number of radios trebled. Although British industrial production had gone up by 11% from 1929 to 1935, average wages fell 3%. This was not as bad as it seemed though because the cost of living had been reduced by 13%. Britain emerged from depression largely from outside factors other than the government but the government did have an effect. Chamberlain even introduced the Unemployment Act of 1934 which meant insurance benefits could apply for a maximum of 26 weeks. Although the Conservatives did help and make some changes, it was not enough and they did not look to the future as much as the Labour party.

The Labour party during the war had put in a huge effort to keep Britain going on the home front and proved to the people of Britain that they were trustworthy and cared about the problems faced during the war that were not involved with the fighting. During the war, Churchill had 5 main members in the cabinet with power; Arthur Greenwood (labour), Clement Attlee (Labour), Earnest Bevin (Labour), Herbert Morrison (Labour) and Sir Stafford Cripps (Labour). Attlee had made himself known during the war period through his serious speeches which were very different from Churchill's rhetoric speeches. Attlee became more respected by the British, he was a middle-class man who was quiet but could be a tough politician when he needed to be. Earnest Bevin had been Minister of Labour during the war period and had resolved many of the problems faced with labour jobs available during the difficult time, unlike many of the conservatives, he looked ahead to the future and began planning ahead for when the British men returned from fighting, he was a man of working class background and showed his brilliant use of his powers and that he could be trusted up to the 1945 election. Herbert Morrison was a very popular home secretary during the war and the man behind the election in1945 which the conservatives had failed to prepare



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