Churchill becomes PM again
The 26th of October 1951 AD
Winston Churchill, having lost the 1945 General Election, chose to stay on as leader of his party and thus leader of the opposition, spending six years out of office. In 1945 the British people opted for a government that promised change rather than more of the same. By 1951 the rise in the cost of living and a failure to deliver on housing meant that Churchill and the Conservatives won power back, though only narrowly – the Tories took 321 seats, Labour 295.
Clement Attlee ’s government had, however, given birth to the NHS , pensions for all national insurance contributors, child benefit, and unemployment benefit. Churchill’s government from 1951 to his resignation on health grounds in 1955 was mainly memorable for a series of hopeless if dramatic reactions to foreign crises – soldiers sent to deal with the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya; likewise with his escalation of the action in what was then Malaya. It was obvious that the ebbing of the British Empire would accelerate, but Churchill fought against this tide rather than working with it.
Aged 76 when elected Churchill had already suffered a stroke two years previously, and would be hit with another far more severe one in 1953. Yet the grand old man clung on to power until April 7 1955 when he bowed to the inevitable and resigned, his second term as Prime Minister (disregarding a brief caretaker tenure in 1945) a mere footnote to history in comparison with the heroic first. The Queen offered him a Dukedom, but because his son Randolph wished to pursue a political career (and no mechanism of opting out of a peerage then existed) Sir Winston declined the honour.
More famous dates here
5083 views since 21st October 2009