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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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1955: Clement Attlee's defeat
By 1955 Attlee had been Labour leader for 20 years

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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The Eton and Oxford educated Sir Anthony Eden - Churchill’s long time heir apparent - led the Tories into an election campaign for the first time.

The former foreign secretary was keen to emerge from Churchill’s shadow - especially after the former PM found seemingly endless reasons to stay in office despite being well past his prime.

A change of leadership for Labour also looked imminent, but Attlee at 78 decided to stay on until the election at least. The party’s leader since 1935, he was reluctant to hand over the leadership to a deputy whom he deeply disliked - the ambitious Herbert Morrison.

Attlee’s leadership also found itself undermined as a growing caucus of MPs began to surround the charismatic but unpredictable figure of Nye Bevan.

The fiery and talented left-winger, by far and away Labour's best campaigner, left the shadow cabinet over German re-armament in 1954 and more rebellions from the Labour line saw him lose the party whip in 1955.

The voters never reward divided parties, as Labour was to find.