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Election Battles 1945-1997
Intro
1945
1950 1951 1955 1959 1964 1966 1970 1974
Feb
1974
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1979 1983 1987 1992 1997
1945: Labour landslide buries Churchill
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1945: Churchill with Roosevelt
Churchill - left - was loved as a war leader

Watch and listen 1945
The BBC Home Service reports the election results
real 28k
The first ever postal ballot is sent out to soldiers serving overseas
real 28k
The end of the war in Europe as reported by the BBC Home Service
real 28k
Winston Churchill attacks "Gestapo" socialism
real 28k
Labour leader Clement Attlee replies: "such a travesty" of Labour Party policy
real 28k
What they spent
Conservatives
£50,000-£100,000
Labour
£51,000

They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo
Winston Churchill

Churchill and Attlee had originally hoped that the national government would see the war out, but delegates at the Labour Party conference in Blackpool were having none of it.

So with the war in the Far East still under way and a little more than two weeks after Victory in Europe Day, the successful and popular coalition government ended and the date of 5 July was set for the election.

The Conservative campaign was centred around the commanding figure of Churchill. With his victorious war record it could hardly have been otherwise, although he soon made some costly gaffes.

Speaking during his first election address on BBC radio, he warned listeners that Attlee "would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo" in order to bring to life his socialist reforms.

Churchillís attack on his trusted wartime deputy was immediately used by Attlee to highlight the difference between Churchill the war leader and Churchill the divisive political partisan.

But although Labourís campaign - with Peter Mandelsonís grandfather Herbert Morrison at the helm - was mostly trouble free and much better focused than that of the Conservatives, the polls indicated the partyís 20-point lead from early in 1945 had dropped to just single figures by polling day.

Undeterred by the polls, the Conservatives predicted an 80-seat majority, oblivious to the political cataclysm that was about to engulf them.