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British History: Six Key Elections, 1906-51

6. The 1950 and 1951 General Elections: Labour Achievements but Conservative Recovery

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we think about the General Elections of February 1950 and October 1951, focusing in particular on: (i) Labour's victory in 1950, though the slimness of their majority (5) compared to their share of the popular vote (46.1%); (ii) the Conservatives' victory in 1951, despite Labour's domination of the popular vote (47.2%); (iii) the reason that Labour lost the 1951 election, including the unpopularity of continued rationing among the middle classes; and (iv) the domination of the Conservative party in the 1950s, who would go on to win the next two elections – 1955 and 1959 – representing thirteen consecutive years in power.

Course

In this course, Professor Adrian Smith (University of Southampton) thinks about British history in the first half of the twentieth century through six key elections—1906, 1923, 1931, 1945, 1950 and 1951. As we look at each election, we explore the key issues of the period, the dominant political figures, and the importance of Britain’s first-past-the-post system in the translation of the popular vote into seats in the Commons.

Lecturer

Adrian Smith is Professor of Modern History at the University of Southampton. He taught in school and at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before becoming a university lecturer in both History and Politics. Although he has written extensively on the history of sport and on the Commonwealth (sometimes together), his principal areas of expertise are in modern British political history and warfare over the past 150 years, with a complementary interest in cinema. His books include a history of the early New Statesman and a collection of essays on his native city, Coventry; and biographies of the socialist air ace ‘Mick’ Mannock (the basis of a BBC2 Timewatch documentary), and of Admiral Lord Mountbatten – Mountbatten Apprentice War Lord appeared in 2010. Adrian is now writing the authorised life of aviation (and maritime) pioneer and industrialist Sir Richard Fairey, living in hope that the finished book will earn him a flight in a Swordfish. Suitably, Adrian Smith was co-organiser of the AHRC-funded research network, ‘Challenges To Biography’, now merged into the Oxford Centre of Life Writing. He has advised on and appeared in a number of TV and radio documentaries, and is a frequent public speaker (most often via the Historical Association). A keen runner, cricketer and tennis player, his post-marathon sporting ambitions are to take up fell running, and to cycle up Mont Ventoux – living on the south coast in Lymington ensures suitable preparation for neither of these planned activities.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Smith, A. (2018, August 15). British History: Six Key Elections, 1906-51 - The 1950 and 1951 General Elections: Labour Achievements but Conservative Recovery [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/british-history-six-key-elections-1906-51/the-1950-and-1951-general-elections-labour-achievements-but-conservative-recovery

MLA style

Smith, A. "British History: Six Key Elections, 1906-51 – The 1950 and 1951 General Elections: Labour Achievements but Conservative Recovery." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://massolit.io/courses/british-history-six-key-elections-1906-51/the-1950-and-1951-general-elections-labour-achievements-but-conservative-recovery

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