Britain: British Society 1931-1951 - The 1945 General Election
The Labour government elected in 1945 brought in the welfare state and the NHS.

Britain: British Society 1931-1951 - The 1945 General Election

British society at different times in the past is one topic studied in GCSE History, and one of the periods covered is from 1931-1951. A major event of those years was the 1945 general election.

The result of the 1945 general election caused an upset in British society. Their victory came as a surprise to the Labour Party, and as a shock to the Conservative Party. The actual campaign was long, drawn out and bitter, as the wartime coalition dissolved.

Test your knowledge of British society and the 1945 general election in this enlightening quiz.

What was the main significance for Labour, which achieved an overall majority in the Commons of 146 votes?
It gave the opportunity for a third Labour government
It was the first time that the Labour Party was in a position to form a majority government
Labour had won, for the first time, a majority of the votes cast
Labour polled extremely well among servicemen, most of whom voted for them
Tories blamed the Army Bureau of Current Affairs for indoctrinating servicemen against the Tories and in favour of the Labour Party
When had the previous general election taken place?
There had been an electoral truce during the war, so it was hard to predict the eventual result
Which Tory figure claimed that, if Labour won, Britain would experience a "Gestapo"?
This excessive remark no doubt did the Tories much harm
Which of the following promises was not made by Labour during the 1945 campaign?
Full employment
A National Health Service
A welfare state
Free housing for all
Labour made sweeping promises in domestic policy, which were not matched in the Tory manifesto
Which 1942 report did Churchill refuse to endorse in the 1945 campaign?
The Butler Report
The Bevin Report
The Beveridge Report
The Morrison Report
Beveridge proposed a welfare state, something the conservatives opposed
Why was the election result delayed for several days?
There was a lack of trained staff to supervise the poll and count the votes cast
Counting the votes of far flung rural and island constituencies took a long time
There was a widely spread service vote
There were difficulties in interpreting the votes cast by inexperienced voters (e.g. many women) who had not voted before
The electorate was huge - the largest ever. It included many servicemen, especially in the Far East, where the war against Japan continued into August 1945. The election took place in July
Which of the following Labour figures had not served in Churchill's war cabinet?
Several Labour politicians gained very useful cabinet experience by serving in Churchill's wartime coalition
What was the turnout in the 1945 election?
There were huge difficulties in registering all those who had the right to vote
Which of the following industries was not listed in the 1945 Labour manifesto as targeted for public ownership (nationalisation)?
Coal mining
Iron and steel
Labour intended the government to take over a number of industries, either because they were monopolies or because they were owned by a small group of very rich men
What was Labour's share of the votes cast?
Labour benefited more than the Tories from the "First past the Post" system, while the Liberals - formerly in the coalition - lost out
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Depression, war and recovery, 1930-1953

Author:  Edward Towne

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