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Item of the Month – July 2015

Daily Herald front page, 27 July 1945Daily Herald front page, 27 July 1945

Labour wins!  Whilst we saw a very different story unfold in May, things were very different in July 1945.  There had not been an election since 1935, World War II had just ended, and people were demanding huge social changes.

In 1942, the economist William Beveridge published the Beveridge Report, which documented the poor social conditions of the time.  The report identified five main problem areas:

  • Ignorance
  • Idleness
  • Disease
  • Squalor
  • Want

The report greatly influenced Labour’s manifesto, entitled: ‘Let Us Face the Future’.  They promised to challenge these problem areas with a cradle to grave welfare state.  These policies won Labour, led by Clement Attlee, a landslide election, with a majority of 145 seats.  Though the polling day was 5 July, the results were not announced until 26 July, due to large volumes of votes coming from service men overseas.

The front page of the Daily Herald on 27 July rejoices at Labour’s victory.  They announce bonfires in the streets and compare the election to VE Day; Attlee is portrayed as the hero of the hour.  The description of Churchill’s last drive as Prime Minister, to Buckingham Palace, complete with his cigar and peace sign, is important – it symbolises the end of the war era and a progression towards better days.