4th June 1945. The Old Order Gave Way To The New.
After Churchill had resigned as Prime-Minister in late May 1945 he formed a caretaker government until Parliament was dissolved in mid-June.(1)
The period however was noted for a monumental gaffe by Churchill when Today in a wireless (radio) speech he said: ‘There can be no doubt that socialism is inseparably interwoven with totalitarianism and that [The Labour Party] would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance’.
Not satisfied by this Churchill also claimed that Labour would be run by the Chairman of the Labour National Executive, Professor Harold Laski, who he described as ‘that ‘left winger’ with a foreign sounding name’.(2)
Churchill and the Tories lost mainly due to a long political public memory, associated as they were with pre-war depression and Churchill’s bellicose approach to labour disputes in particular the 1926 General Strike.
Then there were memories of unemployment, the Means Test and Appeasement.
The old order was to give way to the new as Labour looked more like a modern progressive party with its programme of nationalization, social and industrial policies. The Tories and Churchill and their supportive right-wing Beaverbrook Press seemed to hark back to the bad old days.
However there was still a residual feeling that the high esteem of Churchill, the war-leader, might be in his favour, but the nation wanted a leader for Peace, Attlee and his Labour Party seemed to exemplify that hope.
In the event the Tories lost in a landslide, Churchill thought the people thankless, but lived to fight and win another day.
The Parliament which dissolved on June 15th 1945, had lasted for 9 ½ years, the longest since the Cavalier Parliament (1661-79). (3)
(1) He resigned on 23rd May 1945. Elections began on July 5th.
(2) Laski was to take the Newark Advertiser to court for suggesting in a speech in Newark on June 19th 1945, that he advocated violence to achieve socialism, but lost his case.
(3) Henry ‘Chips’ Channon MP in his diaries reported on the new parliament assembling on 1st August after Labour’s victory.
He described the members as ‘a dreary lot of people ‘ and when Churchill arrived in the Chamber he was greeted by ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’, whilst the Labour benches sang the ‘Red Flag’.
Ref: Channon Diaries. 5th June 1945.
Ref: oedeboyz.com/gestapo-speech/Pic Image.