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Front Page | UK Politics | Labour's centenary
A history of Labour
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1945 - 1951
Attlee's welfare state
Attlee's government changed the face of British politics.

Audio  The BBC reports the 1945 election.
Attlee's welfare state

In the days before polling technique's take hold, Labour's massive election landslide in 1945 is completely unexpected.

For the first time in its history the party has won a majority in Parliament. Despite the UK being crippled by the financial aftermath of war, Labour loses no time in pushing through an ambitious and radical agenda.

In total nearly 20% of the economy is nationalised including coal, the railways and steel. The frontiers of the welfare state are extended as Health Secretary Nye Bevan launches the National Health Service offering free care at the point of delivery for all - for many, the party's greatest achievement.

As the cold war kicks off between the West and the Soviet Union Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin is instrumental in securing American aid in defending Europe from the threat of Russian expansion with the establishment of Nato.

But with death, old age and resignations all taking their toll on Attlee's government Labour falls from power in 1951.

1900-1906
1945-1951
1906-1914
1951-1964
1914-1924
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1924-1931
1970-1979
1931-1939
1979-1994
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