The 1945 General Election

The general election of 1945 was the first since 1935. It was held on 5th July 1945 but the results weren’t declared until 26th July to allow time for the overseas forces’ votes to be counted.  The popularity of Winston Churchill was so great (he had an 83% approval rating) that it was expected to be a landslide victory for the Conservative Party.

However voters were suspicious of the Conservative pre-war record, domestic and foreign. They were largely blamed for the policy of appeasement which had allowed Hitler to grow in power unchecked. Many remembered the return of soldiers after The Great War when they had been promised ‘Homes fit for heroes’ which had failed to materialise and the mass unemployment of 1930s.

The Labour Party under Clement Atlee were seen as supporters of The Beveridge Report which advocated a ‘cradle to grave’ welfare state  and which had proved hugely popular with the public when it was published in 1942.

The policies of the Conservative Party which prioritised security were out of step with the public whose top priority was housing. With the end of the war Labour were seen as the party best able to rebuild the country. There was a degree of scare mongering form the Conservatives at the consequences of a Labour victory. Mr Bartle Bull claimed that a Socialist victory would mean throwing away everything they had fought so hard for. At a meeting in Oakwood School a man objected to the candidacy of Beverley Baxter on the grounds he was Canadian. Alderman Pinching said that this was a good thing as Mr Baxter could represent the views of the Empire. ‘If we don’t think in terms of Empire it is God help Old England’, he declared. Labour candidate  Ernest Davies said that the main issues of the election  were resettlement and reconstruction. The Labour party were accused of disloyalty in forcing an election before the war with Japan was won.

At a meeting in Hazelwood Lane Captain Malandine, the Liberal candidate was asked about sending refugees back to their own countries:

PGSG 29 Jun 1945 empire and refugees

The main issue was housing. At a meeting at Southbury Road School  Mr Bartle Bull was questioned by an ex- sergeant major who had lost a leg during the war. When he had first been demobbed he had been unable to find work. When he did he lost money having to go before medical boards. he had to attend 15 and was allowed only 9/- for the loss of a days work. His rent had increased from  15/- before the war to 32/6. There were some strange questions for the candidates:

There were three candidates in each of the local constituencies as follows:

Edmonton

Evan Durbin (Labour) *

Squadron Leader Geoffrey Sparrow (Conservative)

JA Ward (Independent)

Enfield:

Bartle Brennan Bull (Conservative)

John Danny (Liberal)

Ernest Davies (Labour) *

Southgate (then part of Wood Green constituency):

Beverley Baxter (Conservative)*

Captain Edwin T Malandine (Liberal)

Councillor WA Vant (Socialist)

*elected

There was a suggestion that the war hero Charles Coward would stand as a candidate in Edmonton but nothing came of this.

TEWH 15 Jun 1945 Coward

The result of the election was a victory for Labour.  Labour won in both Edmonton and Enfield. Local people also won seats in other areas. Percy Daines of Chase Green Avenue won for Labour in East Ham North.

EG 3 Aug 1945 Daines

PGSG 3 Aug 1945 resultsMrs Mabel Ridealgh, a prominent member of the Enfield Highway Co-operative Society won for Co-op and Labour in Ilford North. The results were first reported in the late news section of the paper.TEWH 27 Jul 1945 results

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Post War Housing Shortage

The bombing during the Second World War created an acute shortage of housing. Some people were so desperate they squatted in empty houses. The local councils of Edmonton, Enfield and Southgate discussed various solutions to the problems.

‘Prefabs’ were erected around the area as a temporary solution.  Many of these lasted a lot longer than the expected 10 years. In Edmonton 34 ‘Portal’ type prefabs were built on part of the King George’s Playing Fields facing Delhi Road. The ‘Portal’ prefab had indoor bathrooms and toilets. Some prefabs had toilets in a separate shared block and no bathrooms.

All three councils embarked on extensive permanent house building programmes.  The first new permanent post war houses were built in Southgate in Barrowell Green (opened July 1946),

in Enfield in Addison Road (opened in October 1946)

and in Edmonton in Cuckoo Hall Lane (1948).

People were also encouraged to move out to the new towns being built to the north of London in Harlow and Stevenage. In 1948 there was an exhibition in Edmonton Town Hall about Harlow New Town to encourage people to move there.  The publicity promised ‘New Towns for Old’. According to the council Edmonton had a housing waiting list of over 5000 and a shortage of land available for development.  The solution was to move to Harlow which would be a’ new town complete in itself’ with no need to commute into London as there would be plenty of jobs in the town.