October 26, 2011

Churchill returns to Downing Street.

As a supplement to yesterdays entry where election votes were in the process of being counted, this installment of Edward R. Murrow and The News is from the following day (October 26th) and gives an assessment of the election outcome and how it will impact British domestic and Foreign policy.

According to Murrow, not much. The win was a somewhat slim one. With enough of a majority claimed by the Conservatives to enact some changes, but not big enough to go after major issues in Post-War Britain. The polls showed the Labour Party had actually scored 200,000 more popular votes than the Conservatives, but ironically the number of Parliamentary seats the Conservatives gained was in direct proportion to the number the Labour Party gained in the previous election. Some called it reverse stalemate, and others said it was further evidence the division between parties was getting deeper (reminder: this is 1951 we're talking about, not 2011).

Reactions in Egypt and Iran were understanably predictable, with demonstrating Iranian students renaming Churchill Street in Tehran Mossadegh Street and shouting "Down with Churchill" at mass demonstrations while Egypt placed an embargo on British Naval ships from entering the Suez Canal.

The talk shifted of a looming economic crisis in Britain - utilizing the "guns or butter" argument over increased military spending while employing austerity measures in social programs and having disastrous results.

In short, the newly re-established government of Winston Churchill, who was returning to #10 Downing Street for the first time since 1945, was headed for a bumpy ride.

In Washington, response to the Churchill win was warm with a certain reservation. Reserved because of a hint from Churchill he would visit Stalin in Moscow at some point and the White House was hoping for perhaps a summit meeting in Washington. Republicans hailed the Churchill win as a harbinger for a Republican win in 1952, saying the world was turning right.

Meanwhile, President Truman had his own batch of problems to deal with, namely in the form of strikes breaking out all over the country. The Dockworkers on the East Coast were picketing and and Railroads were looming with walkouts. Even pipe fitters were staging walk outs at the Oak Ridge Nuclear Power Plant. No one, it appeared, was immune.

And that's what it looked like to Edward R. Murrow, with Bill Shadel reporting from New York on this October 26, 1951 installment of Edward R. Murrow and The News.

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