Masters No More Masters Clement Attlee and the ‘Revolt of the Suburbs’

Holding together working- and middle-class voters has been Labour’s historic Achilles’ heel.

Can Keir Starmer do what Clement Attlee couldn’t in 1950?


In April 1946, the Attorney General, Sir Hartley Shawcross, told Conservative MPs in a Commons debate, “We are the masters” and will be “for a long time to come”. Labour had just become the party of the nation for the first time, with millions of middle-class voters supporting its offer of a very “reasonable revolution”. Shawcross appeared to embody the party’s newfound cross-class appeal. The son of a university lecturer and Liberal suffragette, he had been educated at Dulwich College before becoming a lawyer, where his “gifts of mind, tongue and assiduity marked him out”.

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