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Political situation in Britain 1945-1960 ()
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Political situation in Britain 1945-1960

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

1.The Labour government of 1945 to 1951.3-6

 

2. The creation of a multi-racial Commonwealth7

 

3.Christian Democracy as principal political phenomenon

 

of post-war Europe 8-10

 

4.The Conservatives return to power10-14

 

5. References..15

 

The Labour government of 1945 to 1951

 

To exchange the splendours of oratory and the decades of experience of

the greatest of war leaders for a very sincere but decidedly

uncharismatic little man, seemed to the rest of the world an odd thing

for the British electorate to do in the summer of 1945. It never made a

wiser choice. Britain was straining forward to peace and a new social

order, anxious that the disillusionment and lost opportunity which

followed the First World War should not be repeated this time. For that,

Attlee was the man. Churchill had no more desire to establish a social

democratic Britain than he had to give India its overdue

self-government. Attlee was committed to both. The Labour government of

1945 to 1951 was all in all the most competent, effective and honourable

reforming administration in modern British history.

 

For the first time Labour had an absolute majority in the House of

Commons; for the first time it had gained such a degree of middle-class

support that it could truly be seen to represent the nation as a whole,

and the success of its work can be measured by its genuinely national

character. No Prime Minister of the twentieth century has been less

partisan than Attlee or has had sounder judgment. He gauged his mandate

with accuracy and carried it out with a cool modesty which deprived his

opponents of any chance of convincing the nation that its affairs were

now in the hands of dangerous revolutionaries. No hands were safer than

those of this old boy of Haileybury, which, if lacking the panache of

Churchill's Harrow, is one of the most respectable of public schools. If

Attlee seemed so very reliable it was perhaps due in some measure to the

fact that he had no pretensions to being either an aristocratic radical

or a rebellious working man.

 

He came from the most sober of the middle middle-class - just a little

above that which in twenty years time the country would come to prefer

for its Prime Ministers. With lieutenants as outstanding as Bevin,

Cripps and Aneurin Bevan, and with a leader of the opposition as

distinguished as Churchill, it is not surprising that Attlee himself

appeared so ordinary as to be mediocre, even to his lieutenants

themselves.

 

The strength of Labour's achievement lay in being tied to no one man's

genius. It was a collective and almost unideological response to the

inherent inequality of British society and the unemployment of the

thirties, seen in the light of the indigenous socialism of Tawney and of

the experience of national community engendered by the war. After the

election victory the Labour MPs might gather in the House of Commons to

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