Introduction

  • Kevin Jeffreys
Chapter
Part of the British Studies Series book series (BRSS)

Abstract

In October 1951 Winston Churchill returned in triumph to Downing Street. After two hard-fought elections in eighteen months, the Conservatives secured a small but workable parliamentary majority, finally dislodging the Labour government under Attlee that swept to power in 1945. It had been no easy ride for Labour ministers. Clement Attlee’s Cabinet had been confronted by desperate economic hardships and was forced to devalue sterling in 1949. Labour’s large majority all but disappeared at the general election early in 1950, and the outbreak of the Korean War later in the year imposed crippling new defence burdens. It also undermined the unity of the government, culminating in Aneurin Bevan’s resignation from high office and the emergence of a disaffected ‘Bevanite’ left. With Attlee unwilling to prolong the life of his second administration, the way was open for the Conservatives to complete their recovery from the humiliation of 1945. This required exploiting both Churchill’s reputation as Britain’s wartime saviour and the new-found reputation for progressive Toryism cultivated by loyal lieutenants such as R. A. (‘Rab’) Butler. At the heart of the Tory campaign in 1951 was a popular pledge to end the continued austerity that was said to have resulted from socialist mismanagement. Yet Labour in defeat remained defiant.

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Kevin Jeffreys 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Jeffreys
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PlymouthEngland

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