Why did the conservatives lose the 1945 general election?

Essay by sarah359 April 2005

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With the Second World War coming to and end in Europe, Churchill called a general election. What followed was perhaps on of the greatest swing of public confidence of the 20th century. Labour won overwhelming support while 'Churchill...was both surprised and stunned' by the crushing defeat suffered by the conservatives. How this swing of opinion came about is not only due the failings of the conservative party but also to labours manifesto of social reform. With the war drawing to an end by 1945, the national government sought to call an election in a bid to return to a two party system. With Churchill still riding the wave of victory was believed by many to win the election on his personality and wartime leadership alone. The conservatives themselves were so sure of this that they based their entire election campaign on this fact and thus brought about their downfall. However it was not entirely this factor alone that lost the election for the conservatives.

Were as labour offered a new comprehensive welfare policy the conservative did little to reconigise the growing sense of social awareness and thus did little to change the its stance on social policy, despite the general agreement after the war that the public deserved something better. The conservative were not willing to make such major concessions as labour proposed, and hence appeared disjointed with public support. This lack of direction was a major failing of the party and did little to gain support. Finally in addition to the conservative poor election strategy, Churchill went so far as to accuse Attlee as being a dictator despite Attlee's loyal service in Churchill own cabinet during the war. The possible final nail in the conservative coffin was that people associated the conservatives with the 1930's policy of appeasement, which...



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