The Reckoning: The Eden Conservative Government 1955–7
Within a week of becoming Prime Minister in April 1955, Sir Anthony Eden announced that a General Election would be held in the following month. As the Conservative Government had maintained full employment and the Welfare State, and as the economy seemed to be characterized by boom conditions, a Tory Election victory was always the most likely outcome. Just to make certain, many later thought, or as an act of economic policy mismanagement, which seems more likely, Butler’s Budget in April 1955 included a sixpence reduction in the standard rate of income tax. At the Election in May 1955, the Conservatives’ overall majority in the House of Commons increased from 17 to 58,1 only just short of the 60-seat margin anticipated by Woolton as Party Chairman.2 Eden pronounced the outcome ‘better than I had dared hope’.3 The Conservatives obtained 49.7 per cent of the poll,4 which was the highest percentage obtained by any political party or alliance of them since 1935, and it was to be neither equalled nor bettered during the rest of the twentieth century. During the Election campaign, the Austrian Treaty was signed by the USA, the Soviet Union, France, and Britain leading to the withdrawal of foreign troops from Austria, and that country’s unification, independence, and neutralization, for which Eden had been negotiating for years.5
KeywordsPrime Minister Security Council Full Employment European Economic Community Suez Canal
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