“It was sheer good fortune that the Conservative Party were returned to office in May 1955.” Discuss.
In the May 1955 General Election, the Conservatives won 344 seats, winning with an overall majority of 58; with Labour winning 277 and 3.9% of votes were for Liberal and Others. It can be argued that the Conservatives were returned to office in 1955 due sheer good fortune. However, we must explore the other options as to why the Tory party won, particularly how the Conservative party looked against the opposition. In 1951, the economy was in turmoil. There was a balance of payments crisis which leads to a £700 million deficit. Also, countries started to buy imports from other countries outside of the UK, so Britain’s export market was damaged. However, by 1952, the government had recovered, and by 1954, Great Britain was flourishing; rationing was abolished, unemployment was reduced and it was the end of austerity and the start of the era of affluence. This is an example of good fortune because coincidently, Britain’s economy had fully recovered not long before the election. Also, due to the condition of the opposition, the Conservatives seemed like a stable government. There was a right-left split in Labour, between Gaitskell and Bevan. This showed that the Labour party was unorganised and could never lead the country properly as they wouldn’t be able to agree on important decisions. This is another example of how the Conservatives won through good fortune, as British citizens wanted consistency and efficiency, which was best displayed by the Tories. One month before the election, Churchill resigned. He was replaced by Mr. Eden, a popular replacement. He was the Foreign Secretary and a statesman; this had earned him a good reputation. This is an example of good fortune because the public liked Eden, and for him to become Prime Minister a month before the election due to Churchill’s resignation was good for Conservative popularity. Other factors as to why the...
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