Postwar victors forced to go to the country
WHY WAS IT CALLED?
Clement Attlee’s Labour party were the surprise winners of the election at the end of the Second World War. The new administration was both radical and active, with more than 200 pieces of legislation passed in its first three years, including the creation of the National Health Service in 1948. However, the election of 1950 left Labour with a hugely reduced majority of only five seats. And, by September 1951 – with his government relying on seriously ill MPs coming to the House from their sickbeds to keep it in power – Attlee had decided to call another general election.
DID THE GAMBLE PAY OFF?
No – it ended in a frustrating defeat for Attlee. His party polled nearly 14 million votes – 200,000 more than the Conservatives and the most in Labour’s electoral history. But it wasn’t enough. Labour won 26 fewer seats than the Conservatives, and would be out of power for the next 13 years.
Clement Attlee (second right) emerges from a polling station during the snap election of 1951. His party polled a record number of votes but would be out of power for 13 years