3 minutes 16 seconds
00:00:00 - 00:00:33
When you lead a country to victory in a major war and maintain great popularity throughout, it would seem unlikely that you'd immediately be voted out of office. But this is what happened to Winston Churchill in the wake of World War II, who, despite being very popular, lost an election in 1945 just before Japan's surrender. Which raises the question, why? Why was Churchill kicked out of power just after winning the Second World War? Well, when Germany surrendered in 1945, the British government was governed by both the Conservative and Labour parties, which had formed a coalition after elections were suspended in 1940 for the duration of the war.
00:00:33 - 00:00:59
This suspension was to last until the threat to the British mainland was gone, and when it was, the Labour Party withdrew from the coalition. Elections were scheduled for early July and so both sides immediately started drawing up manifestos to put to the people. The Conservative plan was simple. Churchill. He was seen as the face of British victory over Germany, and the Conservative party focused on his foreign policy credentials as being able to secure the empire and also give Britain an enhanced position within the new world that was emerging.
00:01:00 - 00:01:36
Beyond this, Churchill's plans for Britain were a part of what were known as the 4 Year Plan. This was co-authored by both parties and it promised the creation of a national health service funded by a new national insurance tax, the expansion of agricultural production to reduce food imports, and the rebuilding of the country after all those bombs had been dropped on it. Whereas the Labour Party also promised the creation of a National Health Service, the rebuilding of the country, the expansion of educational opportunities, but importantly they also promised to massively reduce unemployment, which was especially important given how many soldiers were returning home. So why did Labour win when their policies were so similar. Well, whilst Churchill was very popular, he was seen as a great wartime leader and not a peacetime 1.
00:01:36 - 00:02:02
Throughout the coalition, the Labour Party hadn't been in charge of running the war, but running Britain domestically, and the people had seen them as being quite good at it. They had also importantly joined the government in 1940 and so they weren't tarnished by the failure of appeasement like the conservatives were. Also, broadly, the British people wanted radical change. You see, the war kind of sucked and so people wanted to build a much better system after its end. Many of them felt that Churchill and his colleagues wouldn't do that in the same way that Labour leader Clement Attlee would.
00:02:02 - 00:02:31
Churchill also made the mistake of thinking that the British people hated all things socialist like they had done in the past, since it was no longer associated primarily with revolution and killing monarchs. It was now seen as a vital part of Germany's defeat and people like Joseph Stalin maintained great popularity in the UK. And as such, when Churchill said that a Labour victory would lead to a new Gestapo in Britain, it hurt his electoral chances. And throughout the campaign, the Conservatives made no attempt to change course, despite polling 20 points behind the Labour Party for the entire thing. So why didn't they change?
00:02:31 - 00:02:49
Well, it was simple. They didn't believe the polls. And when the election was over, Conservative leaders were shocked to find out that not only had they lost, they'd suffered the greatest upset in their party's history. And thus, despite its immense popularity with the British people, Churchill was kicked out of office just after World War II. I hope you enjoyed this episode and a special thanks to my patrons...
00:03:00 - 00:02:49
Podcast, Captain Psydog, Gustav Swan, Marvin, Kassel, Camoon, Yoon, Winston, K-Wood, Boogily Woogily, Daniel Tabean, Miss Iset, Aaron the White, Corey Turner, The McWhopper, Alex Schwin, Anthony Beckett, Copper Tone, Maggie Patskowski, Shuenin, Spinning3plates, and Charles the First.
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