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A CASE STUDY THE GENERAL ELECTION OF 1951 THE SUTTON CONSTITUENCY OF PLYMOUTH Victory but not triumph for the Conservatives defeat but no rout for the Socialists THE NATIONAL PICTURE By 1951 Clement Attlees Labour Government was on its knees Most of the promises set out by the Labour party in its 1945 manifesto had been put into practice leaving the party directionless The general election of 1950 had slashed Attlees majority to just six seats Attlees cabinet was straining after long years in office with many key ministers ill dying or resigning The Governments foreign and domestic policies seemed to be faltering as crises arose in Iran Egypt Sudan and Europe Morrison Foreign Secretary looked unable to cope In June 1950 communist North Korea invaded South Korea sparking the first major conflict of the cold war The cost of the war had disastrous effects on Britains economy and on Attlees Government Hugh Gaitskell the Chancellor was forced to implement some healthcare charges which prompted the resignation of left-winger Nye Bevan culminating in a Labour party split With the Government looking increasingly unstable Attlee had little choice but to dissolve Parliament in September and call an election for 25 October 1951 The Conservative party took this opportunity to set the people free it promised to ease the housing shortage by building up to 300000 new homes a year and pledged to tackle Labours failure to deal with rising prices THE SUTTON CONSTITUENCY 1918 saw the birth of the Sutton Constituency its name derived from a parliamentary division following the amalgamation of three Plymouth towns Initially Plymouth consisted of three constituencies Drake Devonport and Sutton however the Redistribution of Seat Act 1949 established that an electorate of 131000 did not warrant three MPs consequently during the 1950 election Drake was absorbed into the remaining two Devonport and Sutton Thus Sutton from 1950 incorporated nine
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