JULY 5, 1945
CAITHNESS & SUTHERLAND
With WWII coming to an end in Europe, the Labour Party, headed by the able Deputy PM Clement Atlee chose to pull out of the government coalition, precipating an election. King George VI dissolved Parliament & the first election in a decade would be underway. Throughout the campaign, pugnacious Winston Churchill & the Tories were confidant of victory. After all, Churchill was Britain's face during the war & his popularity remained high at 83%. Churchill's campaign focused on his heroic status & confidence in victory. The Liberals, led by dapper Archibald Sinclair, who had been adamantly opposed to appeasement of Hitler, tried to tow the line between Labour & Conservative, but on the whole, they were proposing few different solutions than Labour, only on a smaller scale.
Atlee & the Labour leadership formed the most comprehensive campaign manifesto, offering major changes, first proposed by the Beveridge Report, which would make Britain a "welfare state". Atlee proposed to win the peace by amending the failures of WWI governments to care for their returning veterans effectively. Churchill called Labour's program "socialism", saying Atlee would institute Gestapo tactics & act as a dictator. Atlee responded by thanking Churchill for proving their point that he may have been a great war leader, but would be lousy at rebuilding the country. In fact, Churchill, who cared little about furthering the Conservative Party, which angered many MPs, may have even overestimated his popularity. For many of the young soldiers who were returning. Many resented Churchill for smoking his cigars in front of them when they had been denied cigarettes for weeks.
In the end, it all added up to a Labour win. Churchill was reportedly shocked & devastated at the defeat. The Liberals fared very poorly in the campaign (although they slightly increased their popular vote total) & Sinclair lost his seat in one of the closest elections in British history. Atlee had his way & he became the first Labour since Ramsay MacDonald.BREAKDOWN:
LABOUR - 393
CONSERVATIVE - 197
LIBERAL - 12
OTHERS - 38PROMINANT NEW MPs: