Labour’s victory at the polls in 1945 seemed to signal a major change in British politics. A government that was both radical in intentions and experienced in administration looked set to alter the face of the nation. Labour had never even had a majority government before, let alone such a list of clearly competent ministers or such a manifesto full of viable schemes for major change. Churchill and Conservatism seemed to have been decisively rejected and with them, it appeared, not only the values that had dominated the interwar years but also a much longer tradition, the high-minded patriotism and rugged individualism of Churchillian rhetoric. It looked as though the electorate had voted for a new angle of vision, a decisive switch from Imperialism to Welfarism which would make the 1945 general election result the fulcrum of twentieth-century British history. In fact, the electoral system had once again warped the results somewhat. Large as Labour’s victory was in terms of parliamentary seats, the Conservatives still captured nearly 40 per cent of the votes and Labour still won less than the magical 50 per cent. It was the distribution of the vote that won Labour their 148-seat overall majority. In the Home Counties, the South-East, the West Midlands, and even in the shires, Labour were winning seats they had never won before. Unfortunately for them, they were never to win many of them again. Clearly, the radicalism of the ‘People’s War’ was a short-lived affair for those suburbanites who lent Labour a classless image for a few short years after the war.
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