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VIII: POSTMASTER GENERAL: 1945
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 May 2019
I think we were all astonished by the result of the election in the autumn of 1945. Never before had the Labour Party won a clear majority of seats in the House of Commons. Churchill had gone to the electorate as the victorious war leader, far superior to a mere Party Leader, to whom the people of Britain owed more than to anyone else in the competing political parties. But the war had held up the progress of social reform and economic advance, and the men coming home from the front were looking for a new deal. This had been forecast in the vision of the future adumbrated by Sir William Beveridge in his famous Report on post-war society.
- Primary source material
- Royal Historical Society Camden Fifth Series , Volume 57: THE RISE OF LABOUR AND THE FALL OF EMPIRE: THE MEMOIRS OF WILLIAM HARE, FIFTH EARL OF LISTOWEL , July 2019 , pp. 111 - 118
- Copyright © Royal Historical Society 2019
371 The result was declared on 26 July 1945 with Labour winning a landslide, gaining 393 of 640 seats.
372 Sir William Beveridge (1879–1963), later Baron Beveridge, academic and briefly Liberal MP. Author of the 1942 report ‘Social Insurance and Allied Services’ (better known as the Beveridge Report), which among other things argued the need to abolish the ‘five giants’ of want, squalor, ignorance, idleness, and disease and has influenced the policies of all British post-war governments, but particularly those of the Labour government of 1945.
373 Tom Williams was a delightful person and I would have been delighted to serve under him if Attlee had not thought otherwise. Tom Williams (1888–1967), later Lord Williams of Barnburgh, Labour MP and minister; minister of agriculture and fisheries, 1945–1951.
374 Attlee served briefly in 1931 as postmaster general in Ramsay MacDonald's minority Labour administration.
375 He was 38.
376 Sir Brian Tuke (d.1545), court official who served Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey.
377 Wilfrid Burke (1889–1968), Labour MP, assistant postmaster general, 1945–1947.
378 Spate of infamous murders that occurred in Edinburgh committed by William Burke and William Hare in 1828.
379 Sir Thomas Gardiner (1883–1964), director general of the Post Office, 1936–1945.
380 The design of new stamps, such as the issue of victory stamps, was limited by the placing of the monarch's head in the centre. Placing it in the corner has really made modern designs possible.
381 Sir Rowland Hill (1795–1879), postal reformer and official.
382 Sir William Haley (1901–1987), newspaper editor and official; director general of the BBC, 1944–1952.
383 Harry Crookshank (1893–1961), later Viscount Crookshank, Conservative MP and minister; postmaster general, 1943–1945 and leader of the House of Commons, 1951–1955.
384 The tolerance and mutual respect between the parties in the last sentence of Captain Crookshank's letter has certainly diminished since the war, but still exists and makes democracy work.
385 General Dwight ‘Ike’ Eisenhower (1890–1969), supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, 1943–1945, and later Republican President of the United States of America, 1953–1961.
386 Issued in 1840.
387 There has been a very large increase in the number of ‘special issues’ of postage stamps since my day and the Treasury has defeated the Post Office.
388 Charles Geddes (1897–1983), later Lord Geddes of Epsom, trade unionist, general secretary of the Union of Post Office Workers, 1944–1956.
389 John Edwards (1904–1959), trade unionist and Labour MP, general secretary of the Post Office Engineering Union, 1938–1947.
390 Frederick Pethick-Lawrence (1871–1961), later Baron Pethick-Lawrence, Labour MP and peer, secretary of State for India, 1945–1947.
391 I only found out later from Mountbatten that I was his choice.
392 Sir Gilbert Laithwaite (1894–1986), civil servant and diplomat; private secretary to the viceroy, 1936–1943; deputy under-secretary of state for Burma, 1945–1947 and for India, 1947; and permanent under-Secretary for Commonwealth Relations, 1955–1959.