Fast Falls the Eventide: The Churchill Conservative Government 1951–5
‘Winston has crawled back into Downing Street’, Lord Moran wrote in late October 1951 in the aftermath of the Conservatives having obtained only a majority of 17 in the General Election, though he found that, far from this outcome being ‘a great disappointment to him’, Churchill was relieved simply to be back as Prime Minister,1 and if this meant a return to office on any remotely politically acceptable basis at all then, for once, Churchill reflected the dominant mood in the Tory Party. Churchill was well described as ‘not … a Conservative at heart’,2 and, ideally in 1951, he may have wanted to lead a Coalition Government including the Liberals. He had spoken in support of Violet Bonham-Carter at Colne Valley in the Election,3 and, when composing his Cabinet, he offered the post of Minister of Education to the Liberal leader, Clement Davies, who refused it.4 For several years afterwards, the conventional wisdom was that between 1945 and 1951 the Conservatives had made themselves into the most effective Opposition of the century, having had their policies revamped by R.A. Butler and his ‘backroom boys’ as thoroughly as Lord Woolton as Tory Chairman had reconstructed the party machine.5 There had been a Woolton Revolution in organization, but, however seriously such as the One Nation Group took their activities, the Butler ‘Revolution’ was primarily presentational.
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