ON THIS DAY    27 May      Graphics version >>   BBC News >>
Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
1955: Election victory for Tories under Eden

The Conservatives have won the general election with a clear majority, ending a five-year political stalemate.

The British public has reinforced its support for prime minister, Sir Anthony Eden, who took over the reigns of power in April after the resignation of Sir Winston Churchill.

The final results revealed the Conservatives won 324 out of a total of 630 seats. Combined with those of their Associates the Conservatives have an overall majority of 60 seats - the largest majority for five years.

In 1951 the Conservatives won with just a 17-seat majority and in 1950 Labour, led by Clement Attlee, were elected with a majority of just 13.

'Peace and progress'

Sir Anthony received an ovation as he arrived at Conservative Party Headquarters this evening.

In a televised address he thanked the British public for its continued support.

He said: "I am told that we have made history on this occasion, in the sense that it is something like 100 years since any government ever asked the country for a reinforced support for the work it had to do and received a larger majority.

"For that we are grateful. You have generously accorded us the working majority for which we asked."

The large majority in this election is evidence from the British public that it has confidence in the Conservative government to carry out its pre-election promises.

The Conservative manifesto, entitled "United for Peace and Progress", began with a personal statement from the prime minister: "Twice in a lifetime," it read, "my generation has seen its world shaken, and almost destroyed, by a world war.

"Our civilisation could not hope to survive a third. It has been my work to do all I can to prevent such a catastrophe, and this will remain my firm resolve for the whole time I serve you."

But, although the Conservatives said production of the hydrogen bomb would continue as a deterrent and protection to the UK, they have pledged to strive for unity between east and west and eventually bring about total world disarmament.

The Tories also promised to continue their programme for prosperity, developing a property-owning democracy and strengthening personal freedom and national unity.

They have vowed to build on the successes of the past four years, which include the steady increase in prosperity and economic strength and high employment and production.

But Labour say the cost of living has increased under the Conservatives, production has been slower and tax relief has favoured the rich.

Labour is calling for fairer distribution of wealth and a more vigorous drive for housing, education, health and opportunities for recreation.

In Context
Sir Anthony Eden faced difficulties from the outset as economic conditions worsened under the Conservatives.

He was put under further pressure in 1956 after he joined forces with France and Israel in a secret deal to launch a military offensive on Egypt, after President Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal.

His decision was condemned by the US and the United Nations and eventually led to Sir Anthony's resignation due to ill health in 1957.

Eden first entered Parliament as Conservative member for Warwick and Leamington in 1923.

He became Foreign Secretary in 1935 but resigned three years later in protest at Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement.

When Churchill became prime minister in May 1940 Eden returned to the foreign office and took on the role of Leader of the House of Commons.

Between 1945 and 1951 he was deputy leader of the Opposition during Attlee's government before returning as Churchill's foreign secretary in 1951.

He was knighted in 1954 and succeeded Winston Churchill as prime minister in April 1955.

Following his resignation in January 1957 he was created Earl of Avon in 1961. He died in January 1977.


Search ON THIS DAY by date   
  Go back one day Go forward one day

Front Page |  Years |  Themes |  Witness
^^ Back to top |