‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Anniversary of 1964 General Election

Today is the anniversary of the 1964 general election, which resulted in the Labour Party returning to power after 13 years.

The election had several unusual features:

It was held five years and one week after the previous election.

The Labour Party won 317 seats, the Conservatives won 304 and the Liberals won 9. No seats were won by any other party or independents.

It was the first general election since 1929 at which the Liberals had increased their number of seats. Under Jo Grimond’s leadership the party increased its share of the vote from 5.9% to 11.2%.

Both the Labour and Conservative parties had new leaders since the 1959 election. Harold Wilson had taken over the Labour leadership after the death of Hugh Gaitskell the previous year. For Wilson this was to be the first of four election victories. He won again in 1966 and at the two elections held in 1974 (although without a majority in the February 1974 election).

The Conservatives were led to defeat in 1964 by Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who had been appointed party leader without a leadership contest and prime minister without winning a general election, after the resignation of prime minister Harold Macmillan in 1963. Home had renounced his peerage and for nearly three weeks was prime minister without a seat in the Lords or the Commons, before he won a by-election at Kinross and West Perthshire on 7 November 1963. Home served as prime minister for almost exactly a year before his defeat in the 1964 election.

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