Sixty years ago

Posted by Helen Wednesday, May 27, 2015 ,

On May 26, 1955 the Conservatives achieved a notable victory in the General Election under a new leader, who was considerably more popular than the previous one. I know that some readers are going to spit with anger at that comment but it happens to be the truth: Churchill became popular only in the last ten years of his life when he had finally retired from politics.

The DNB entry for Anthony Eden, under whose leadership the party increased its majority from seventeen to sixty and winning the popular vote as well, is interesting in that it explains the situation in the mid-fifties when many in the party and the country thought that Churchill should finally retire and hand over the leadership to the man seen as his successor for some years. Some people thought that Churchill should have retired immediately after the war and the landslide defeat by the Labour Party under Attlee. One can argue about that as about Eden's own strengths and weaknesses - oddly enough, his political career was destroyed by foreign affairs, which were  supposed to be his strength. (The Wiki entry is, as usual, less outspoken about the problems and the achievements.)

Eden was unusual in one respect. Normally, leaders who take over in the middle of a Ministry go to the end of the mandate, calling an election as late as they can, in order to impose their own personality on government and Parliament. Eden, became leader on April 7, 1955 and called an election for May 26.

It is, undoubtedly, interesting to look at the results in 1951 and 1955:

In 1951 302 Conservative MPs were elected on 12,659,712 votes, 295 Labour MPs on 13,948,883 votes and 19 Liberal National MPs (on 1,058,138 votes) who were in alliance with the Conservatives, thus increasing the government's strength. There were also 6 Liberal, 2 Independent Nationalist and 1 Irish Labour MPs.

In 1955 there were 345 Conservative MPs on 13,310,891 votes, 277 Labour MPs on 12,405,254 votes, 6 Liberal and 2 Sinn Féin MPs.

It was also the last time the Conservatives won an absolute majority of both seats and votes in Scotland.

How sad then, that the Ministry did not live up to the expectations of that day sixty-five years ago when the results were proclaimed.


  1. The only time the Tories won majority of seats in Scotland after 1832.

  2. Off the subject but please comment on this.

  3. Helen Says:
  4. Have only just seen that. Shall read and comment if I have anything to say.

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