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1951: Churchill wins general election

VIDEO : Footage of Winston Churchill's victory speech

The Conservative Party has won the general election by a small majority, making Winston Churchill prime minister for the second time.

Mr Churchill is nearly 77 and the second oldest prime minister in history. William Gladstone was 83 when he formed his last government.

The first results, which started coming in late last night, put Labour ahead. But by early this afternoon, the Conservatives had taken the lead.

At about 1730, when it became clear the Conservatives had a majority, Clement Attlee drove to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation as Labour Prime Minister.

Mr Churchill was received by the King soon afterwards and accepted his invitation to form Great Britain's 40th government.

'Strong and free Britain'

Opinion polls throughout the five-week election campaign had predicted a comfortable majority for the Conservatives and it will come as some disappointment the gap was not bigger.

Several main issues were highlighted during the campaign including the rising cost of living, housing and the expensive rearmament programme which has been ongoing since the war.

Voters rejected Labour's tactic of labelling Mr Churchill as a warmonger and instead embraced the Conservatives' election promise that they would now create a "strong and free" Britain.

Throughout the campaign Mr Churchill has spoken of the need for a broad-based government and he is widely expected to appoint a Cabinet with as wide a representation as possible.

Following his victory in his constituency of Woodford, Essex, he said: "We have all, I feel, a great deal in common; and now, perhaps there will be a lull in our party strife which will enable us to understand more what is good in our opponents and not to be so very clever at finding out all their shortcomings."

Mr Attlee was in his constituency of West Walthamstow the day before the election. He recorded his vote at Caxton Hall and was returned with a majority of more than 11,000.

The new Parliament will be sworn in on Wednesday 31 October and the State opening of Parliament will take place on 6 November.

Results from Inverness, Orkney and Zetland, the Western Isles and Argyll are expected some time tomorrow.

Voting in constituency of Barnsley in Yorkshire won't take place until 8 November because of the sudden death of Labour candidate, Mr F Collindridge.

In Context
The final result was Conservatives and Associates - 321 seats; Labour - 295; Liberal - 6; and others 3.

The results gave the Conservatives a majority of just 17 over all other parties.

In 1953 Mr Churchill was made a Knight of the Order of the Garter in recognition of his services to his country.

He resigned in 1955 at the age of 81 due to ill health but remained a backbencher until 1964.

He died on 24 January 1965, aged 90 at his London home at Hyde Park Gate.

In 2002, Winston Churchill was named the greatest Briton of all time in a nationwide poll which attracted well over a million votes.


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