The 1945 election
The 1945 election
Context: Churchill's coalition came to its end in 1945, and on june a general election was held. As Churchill was considered as a war hero, he was widely expected to win (the Conservatives centralized their campaign on his personnality). But the Labour party won with an overall majority: a landslide victory. The new PM is Attlee. For the first time the Labour can govern by itself, before that they were just a part of a coalition government.
Questions on the “1945 Labour Party Election Manifesto”
> Why is the example of WWI used ?
After the WWI the situation didn't improve, “the people lost that peace”. That example is used because the situation is the same, in 1945 the WWII is over. So the Labour party say not to vote again for the Conservatives who did not make any improvement after the WWI.
> Who are the “hard-faced men” and what political affiliation are they said to have ? Comment on the language used.
The Conservatives are the “hard-faced men”. By saying the Conservatives policy was wrong after WWI, they say the 30s as a disaster.
> What were the “great economic blizzards” and the “slumps” of the inter-war years ? What causes is suggested and what is the significance ?
Slump = period when a country's enconomy of business is doing very badly.
The 30s are now associated to the word slump, because of the 1929 crisis: Britain had borrowed money from the US and they have to pay back money to the US. After the WWI the British Staple industries collapsed, and more importantly Britain's coton importations. The post-war slump had a direct consequence in Britain: in 1926 there was a general strike. The general strike appeared in a very tensed period. After the WWI the British economy decided to return the gold standard, so the value of the money depended on that gold standard. Before the WWI Staple industries had accounted for 70% of British's exports, after the WWI it collapsed. May 4th 1926 a general strike was called by the TUC (Trade-Union Congress), which supported the minors. And so just after the general strike was called the Government reacted very badly to the strike. Measures were taken: The Trade Dispute Act was passed, so at this moment it was illegal to go on strike. Unemployment benefits were cut, reduced, and it became even more difficult to get those benefits: less and less people will get them. In those years the Government control the Banks, the big industries and the press. Too much power is concentrated in the hands of too few men.
> What, according to the next, does the nation want ? How will political parties react to this ?
The Nation wants food, work and homes: so basics and vital needs. The Government have to deal with the needs of the nation, which are basics, simple, but vital needs. So the Labour party proposes to provide the population of “good food in plenty, useful work for all, and comfortable homes”. The Labour proposes here to improve their conditions, their standard of living and in the same time improving the population security and education.
Of course the other parties aren't opposed to that. Basically they can't. So all parties said that “in principle they are agree with them”. What is important here to the Labour party is to show that their determination is to turn the aims into realities.
> What is the “spirit of Dunkirk and of the Blitz” ?
The Labour implies that even now in peace time the Government has to care about the British citizen security. The Labour party draws a palet (?) between a post-war situation in Britain during which pressure and problems threaten the population basic needs.
→ The Government needs to care about the population.
> What is used in the text to oppose the idea of the people/the nation ?
Opposition between the nation and private interest controled by the previous government (the previous gvt controled everything, power in the hands of a few men), abstract concept which used to prevail under the previous governments: “bank, mines, big industries, bureaucracy, totalitarian oligarchies, monopolies”. What mattered more for previous gvt were profits, control, bureaucracy, monopolies and the results was the economic blizzard, the slumps, which took place in the inter-war years in Britain. The previous gvt was totally disconnected from the people.
Questions on “Winston Churchill, Conservative Election Broadcast, 1945”
> How does this speech by Winston Churchill attack the Labour Party's position ?
Speaking on his first election address on the BBC he warned listeners that Attlee “would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo” in order to bring to life his socialist reforms: clear opposition between freedom and socialism → idea that Attlee is going to act against freedom. But Churchill made a miscalculation about the mood of the electorate. He tried to create a frightening image of Labour by associating their socialism with totalitarian regime.
> Was the speech successful ? Why ? Why not ?
This attack was immediatly used by Attlee to highlight the difference between Churchill the successful war leader and Churchill the poor political partisan. Attlee recognized that Churchill was surely competent during the war, but now it's time to go back to real politics and Churchill is clearly not here. Churchill lost the election, so no that speech wasn't successful.
The electorate was convinced that the Labour party, rather than the Conservatives, would introduced the measures saw in the Beveridge report. It was a restrospective judgement on old the Conservatives policies. The priority of the population was peace: and the last time the Conservatives were in power, they lost the peace.
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