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BBC News Vote 2001 Vote2001 | Audio Video 
Election Battles 1945-1997
Intro 1945 1950 1951
1955
1959 1964 1966 1970 1974
Feb
1974
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1979 1983 1987 1992 1997
1955: Eden's mandate
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Overview
Battlefield
Campaign
Personalities
Issues
Results
1955: Churchill resigns
Eden called the election days after Churchill resigned

Watch and listen 1955
The BBC’s first televised election programme
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The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
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Sir Anthony Eden takes questions from the press
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The BBC used the new Electronic Brain to calculate results
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What they spent
Labour
£73,000
Conservatives
£142,000

As boring an election as you could find
Labour candidate Gerald Kaufman

The Conservatives have always been a class party and always will be a class society
Clement Attlee

Within nine days of Churchill’s retirement Eden called an election for 26 May, with the polls giving the Tories a modest lead.

Taking no chances with their hopes of securing a new mandate, the Tories quickly unveiled an electioneering Budget with Chancellor Rab Butler cutting income tax.

Clement Attlee again led Labour into the election battle - his fourth and last as leader.

Splits within the party already apparent when Labour was last in power had burst into the open more violently in opposition.

Attlee was unable to subdue Nye Bevan - a heroic figure for the party's left - who quit the shadow cabinet and was almost expelled from the party a year later.

With few areas of agreement within the party Labour shied away from making too may specific pledges and faced the electorate without a clear message.

TV was making its presence felt for the first time in an election campaign - with key figures including Attlee and Eden making themselves available for the cameras. Although it was hard to see which party - if any, or indeed the public - had benefited from its introduction.

Although he did speak once on television, the ageing Attlee still undertook his traditional speaking tour of the country, driven by car from hustings to hustings, as usual, by his faithful wife Vi.