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Winston Churchill, 1929-55

6. Prime Minister Again, 1951-55

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In this module, we think about Churchill's return to power in 1951, focusing in particular on: (i) Churchill's performance as Leader of the Opposition; (ii) the increasing unpopularity of Attlee's Labour government, due in part to the continuation of wartime food rationing in the 1950s; (iii) the successes of Attlee's Labour government: full employment, the creation of the NHS, the introduction of other forms of social security, etc.; (iv) the nationalisation of the Anglo-Iranian Petroleum Company (AOIC) in 1951 and the possibility of war in the Middle East; (v) Labour's (allegedly) patchy record on foreign affairs: Indian independence, the withdrawal from Palestine, etc.; (vi) Churchill's time in power: marred by illness, attempted rapprochement with the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin in 1953; and (vii) Churchill's retirement and the almost-immediate failure of his successor, Anthony Eden.


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 - Prime Minister Again, 1951-55 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Toye, R. "Winston Churchill, 1929-55 – Prime Minister Again, 1951-55." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 21 Mar 2021,