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Winston Churchill, 1929-55

5. Out of Power, 1945-51

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about Churchill's career following his defeat in the 1945 General Election, focusing in particular on: (i) the extent to which Churchill neglected his official duties as Leader of the Opposition; (ii) his memoirs, which became bestseller as cemented his reputation as a wartime leader; (iii) his Iron Curtain speech in Fulton, Missouri, and the reaction in both the United States and Britain; (iv) his United States of Europe speech and the question of what precisely Churchill had in mind when he said that Britain (along with the Commonwealth and the United States) "must be the friends and sponsors of the new Europe"; and (v) the extent to which Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' and 'United States of Europe' speeches (delivered in the United States and Switzerland, respectively) furthered Churchill's domestic agenda.


In this course, Professor Richard Toye (University of Exeter) explores the career of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill between 1929-55. In the first module, we think the decade between 1929-39 in which Churchill was out of government, what he called his 'wilderness years', focusing in particular on Churchill's views on India and the rise of Nazi Germany, and ending with his return to government as First Lord of the Admiralty in September 1939. In the second module, we think about how Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940, before turning in the third module to his performance as Prime Minister during the Second World War. In the fourth module, we think about why Churchill and the Conservatives suffered such as a heavy defeat in the 1945 general election, before turning in the fifth module to think about what Churchill did next. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about how Churchill and Conservatives managed to return to power in 1951, and Churchill's performance during his second ministry between 1951-55.


Prof. Richard Toye is Professor in the History department at the University of Exeter. He is a historian of Britain in its global and imperial context in the period from the late nineteenth century to the present day, and is particularly interested in the rhetorical dimensions of politics, economics and empire. He is the author of several monographs, including The Labour Party and the Planned Economy, 1931-1951 (2003), Arguing about Empire: Imperial Rhetoric in Britain and France, 1882-1956 (2017), and Winston Churchill: A Life in the News (2020).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Toye, R. (2021, March 21). Winston Churchill, 1929-55 - Out of Power, 1945-51 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Toye, R. "Winston Churchill, 1929-55 – Out of Power, 1945-51." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 21 Mar 2021,