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1950: Labour wins slim majority

VIDEO : Footage of post-election process

The Labour Party has won the general election, with Clement Attlee returning as Prime Minister.

But the result leaves the country in a state of uncertainty as it is the closest for 100 years.

Votes are still being counted after an extremely tense night but so far the government has an overall majority of just 13.

The state of play at the moment is that Labour has won 314 seats, the Conservatives 294 and the Liberals just seven.

The Liberals lost a record 314 election deposits.


"Parliament will be in a very unstable condition"

Winston Churchill, leader of Conservative Party

With such a slender majority it will be difficult for Mr Attlee's government to continue with its programme of nationalisation of major industries like iron and steel - bitterly opposed by the Opposition.

Speaking from Conservative headquarters Winston Churchill, under whose war-time cabinet Mr Attlee had served as deputy prime minister, said: "Parliament will be in a very unstable condition whatever Parliament results from this election."

Many commentators believe there will have to be another election held within 12 months.

In the meantime it is expected that Ernest Bevin will remain as Foreign Secretary and Sir Stafford Cripps as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr Attlee has been in power since July 1945 when Labour won its first ever overall majority. In that time he has seen through major social and economic changes.

Last year he devalued the pound in order to reduce the price of exports and increase the cost of imports to reduce the balance of payments.

He has begun the introduction of the Welfare State with the National Insurance Act providing for the more vulnerable in British society.

In Context
The final result was 315 seats for Labour, 298 for the Conservatives and nine for the Liberal Party.

Another election was held the following year and saw Clement Attlee defeated by Winston Churchill.

Churchill did not reverse Labour's programme of nationalising major industries in an effort to strengthen the post-war economy, but privatised iron and steel in 1953.

The Welfare State was accepted by both parties and expanded under Churchill.

In 1960s and 1970s power shifted back and forth from Labour to Conservative until 1979 when Margaret Thatcher began her 12-year reign.

By then, many industries and utilities were state-owned but she and her successor, John Major, began the policy of privatisation.

Disillusion with the Conservatives and a desire for change brought a massive majority for Tony Blair's Labour Party in 1997.


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