The 1945 general election saw the return of the first ever majority Labour government. The Gallup poll had shown a Labour lead for over two years. Nevertheless most politicians and commentators were astonished by the result, since they expected that the war hero, Winston Churchill, would be returned to office by a grateful nation. In the event there was a swing of around 12% to Labour. How is this to be explained? Did the war radicalise the British people? Was the outcome a mandate for socialism? Or was it merely a reaction against the politics of the inter-war years?
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Vernon Bogdanor, CBE, FBA is a professor of government at Oxford University, England, a fellow of Brasenose College, and Emeritus Professor of Law at Gresham College.
He is one of Britain's foremost constitutional experts and has written extensively on political and constitutional issues.