BBC Homepage News World Service Sport Education My BBC BBC News Vote 2001
BBC HOMEPAGE | NEWS | WORLD SERVICE | SPORT | MY BBC help
BBC News Vote 2001 Vote2001 | Audio Video 
Election Battles 1945-1997
Intro
1945
1950 1951 1955 1959 1964 1966 1970 1974
Feb
1974
0ct
1979 1983 1987 1992 1997
1945: Labour landslide buries Churchill
Back
Next

Overview
Battlefield
Campaign
Personalities
Issues
Results
1945: graph

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

Party vote share
Out of the Commons
Harold Macmillan
Into the Commons
Harold Wilson
Barbara Castle
Michael Foot
Hugh Gaitskell

The verdict of the electorate had been overwhelmingly expressed
Winston Churchill

We were looking towards the future. The Tories were looking towards the past
Clement Attlee

Labour’s triumph - on a 12% swing - dispatched five members of the cabinet and 27 ministers. Attlee now had 393 Commons seats compared with the Conservatives’ 213, giving Labour a majority over all the other parties of 146.

Labour’s share of the vote, although not an outright majority, was high at 48% - a 10% leap on the election of 1935. The Conservatives took 39%, leaving the Liberals on 9%.

Attlee’s party strengthened its position in Scotland, Wales and London, winning 79 seats which had never previously returned a Labour MP.

The shock with which contemporaries saw the victory was immense, despite the fact that Gallup polls had given Labour a strong lead over the Tories since 1943, around the same time the Beveridge report became a national best seller.

As large as it was, the Labour victory may have been even larger if not for the dislocation caused by the war.

The electoral roll was out of date and excluded many who had moved home. While numerous servicemen - more likely to vote Labour - stationed in remote areas of the of the globe also missed the chance to vote.

The extent of the leftward swing in the UK was further underlined as the communists polled more than 100,000 votes, and the status of the Liberal Party as no longer a real contender for government was made plain by its failure to secure more than a dozen seats.