July Days: Memories of Britain's 'Modern Revolution'

Austin Mitchell takes a trip down memory lane with veteran MPs of the 1945 General Election.

Was the 1945 election Britain's only modern revolution? George VI told President Truman it was not. 'We don't have those here'. The authors of the very first Nuffield Election Study agreed, viewing revolution as a forcible transfer of power. Yet by throwing out a party and a class which had ruled for decades, by bringing in a new elite and a new government to build a welfare state and a new post-war settlement, the election certainly triggered massive changes. The underdogs bit back and most of those who took part in the election viewed it in suitably radical terms when I interviewed survivors as part of the Fabian Society's celebrations for July 5th, the fiftieth anniversary of the poll. Of 1,683 candidates, 110 were alive at the time of writing, and forty-three of the 640 MPs – half of them, incidentally, in the Lords. I interviewed thirty-three, and two score other candidates and activists sent in their memories.

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