On 14th November 1935, Vera Brittain in Sunderland writes in her diary: “Afternoon, spent… canvassing in houses with pitch-dark stairs worn and broken in many places, tin baths and buckets on landing… Habitations more fit for monkeys than human beings…
“All of us very depressed as return of polling cards didn’t indicate a very favourable prospect for us and first results on wireless showed that, though a few old Labour strongholds were won back, the great towns of the North, such as Newcastle, were still voting National Government with large majorities.”
Audrey Deacon, an officer in the Wrens in Plymouth, writes in her diary on 26th July 1945: “Labour has a majority of 152 (I think). Personally I voted Conservative—more because I thought [Winston] Churchill and [Anthony] Eden were two good men to carry on in their present jobs than for any other reason—but I’m not really surprised that Labour has won. After all, the Conservatives had been in since 1935 and before the war, at least, weren’t particularly bright. But nobody was then, really.”
On the same day, Evelyn Waugh writes in his diary: “I went to White’s at 11. Results were already coming in on the tape, and in an hour and a half it was plainly an overwhelming defeat. Practically all my friends are out… 10,000 votes against Winston in his own constituency for an obvious lunatic [Alexander Hancock, an independent candidate, although Churchill retained the seat].”
On 8th October 1959, Hugh Dalton, the former Labour Chancellor, writes in his diary: “I felt reasonably hopeful, as Ruth and I settled down in the flat. From the start, the results were wrong. Billericay, containing the new town of Basildon… Surely a Labour gain. But no, held by the Tories with a 4,000 majority. True we had held the two Salford seats but then came a stream of disappointments. Battersea South and Watford, both held by Tories, and a Tory gain from Labour at Acton. And so on and on.
“Hugh [Gaitskell, Labour leader] conceded the election about 1am.”
At the same time, Lord Louis Mountbatten is at dinner at the White House in Washington. He…