NEW PHASE BEGUN IN BRITISH HISTORY
TEST FOR LABOUR
Bloodless Revolution Breaks Conservative Power N.Z.P.A. Special Correspondent Rec. 11 a.m. LONDON, July 26. To-day in Great Britain a new phase in history has begun. For the first time in a quarter of a century the power of the Conservative party has been decisively broken by what can legitimately be regarded as a bloodless revolution.
The British public which had appeared so apathetic and disinterested in the early stages of the election campaign, which many declared they did not want, threw out Mr. Churchill's Cabinet Ministers neck and crop and gave Labour a majority such as the party, even in its most optimistic dreams, never believed attainable.
Right up until 9 o'clock this morning when the counting began it was the general opinion that, either Mr. Churchill's Government would be returned with a narrow majority, or that there would be something in the nature of a stalemate. Few would have guessed, or cared to place a bet that five hours later a Labour Government would be in power, and that Mr. Churchill's Government had gone out on a landslide with his Ministers falling like ninepins. Reason For Defeat The intense excitement of this dull, overclouded day in London, that turned to rain and then filtering sunshine, can best be compared by New Zealanders to the day in 1935 when Mr. Savage's Government was returned to power. . Although opinions are now being carefully weighed, it is not too much to say that the basic reason for Mr. Churchill's defeat is the working people's distrust of the Conservative party, with which is associated the capitalistic system, which, rightly or wrongly, they regard as discredited. Not all the immense prestige of the great war leader, Mr. Churchill, and which, unfortunately for him and his party, he sadly tarnished during the election campaign, was sufficient to swing the people away from the opinions which they had been forming steadily for the past six or seven years. These were influenced by the scars left by the slump years, a feeling that the Conservative Government had been responsible for the drift towards the war, coupled with the fear that the people's interests might be sacrificed in the post-war years for profits, together with a deep distrust of vested interests and big business. Mood Misjudged The mood of the country is obviously for increased nationalisation and' a greater share by the common man and woman in not only the running of the country, but its wealth.
Mr. Churchill and the Beaverbrook Press entirely misjudged this mood, and aggravated it and irritated it with "Gestapo" scares, and the Laski "red herring," and by neglecting to fight more on policy than on emotional appeals. The country, which for six years has known what it wanted, and fought for it, is still unshaken in its opinions and equally prepared to vote for what it wanted. What effect a more moderate tone by Mr. Churchill during the campaign would have had on the vote, what effect a less violent partisanship by the popular Press would have had on public feeling, will be likely to remain one of the enigmas of this election.
Other factors which must also be taken into account are the extra irritations caused by what manyregarded as a forced election immediately after the war ended in Europe with an incomplete register which disenfranchised many. What Will Be Trfend To-day'it is no exaggeration to re= peat that a new phase in Great Britain's history begins. Its trend depends on whether Labour, with a strong majority, will adopt a moderate path or go to extremes. Despite its firm majority its path will not be easy with the post-war tangle at home and abroad to be cleared up. At home particularly, with incipient industrial unrest, problems of housing, coal, the labour shortage and also the recapturing of overseas exports, the new Government "will have to step warily but surely. For it is certain that 'if it does not produce solutions to these questions there will be an inevitable swing of the pendulum which will be equally vicious in its impact on Labour as to-day's results have been upon the Conservatives. Eclipse of Liberals Of the many surprises of the election which cannot be described as other than sensational in the true meaning of the word, one is the massacre of the Liberal party. The high hopes of its rejuvenation founded on the implacable mood of the electorate, and even its leader,
was defeated, together with Sir William Beveridge, whose name has become almost a byword in the community. Another surprise which was also a sensation is the long list of defeated Cabinet Ministers—proof enough of the dislike and suspicion in which the Conservatives are held. This list constitutes such a defeat as Mr. Churchill, in his years as Prime Minister, never had to survey, and it was made the more impressive by the fact that the polling was heavy. It can be said that he largely contributed towards his own defeat, both by his trenchant denunciations of Socialism and by accepting the persuasions of his advisers.
The interesting point is that once again it has been proved that however much the public may buy and read the popular Press they keep an independent mind where their political opinions are concerned.
War Against Japan
The result of the election will have many repercussions at home and abroad; at home, where the forces of the Opposition can be expected to .gather themselves quickly, financially perhaps as well as politically, abroad, where a close scrutiny will be kept to sec where the policy of the new Government differs from the old. One thing is clear. There will be no slackening in the war against Japan, nor in the desire to maintain friendship with America and Russia. As from to-day British Labour faces its greatest testing time, and the biggest opportunity of its career to prove its merit. It has the weight of public opinion behind it in its heavy responsibility. An election sidelight for New Zealand is that the Dominion is now "represented" in the House of Commons by the Rhodes scholar, Mr. Platts Mills, who won a handsome majority for Labour at Finsbury. Mr. R. Lowryles, another New Zealander, was defeated in what had been considered as a safe Conservative seat at Clapham.
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NEW PHASE BEGUN IN BRITISH HISTORY, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 176, 27 July 1945
NEW PHASE BEGUN IN BRITISH HISTORY Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 176, 27 July 1945
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