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Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1955


Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1955

Labour Party (UK) leadership election

14 December 1955

Candidate Hugh Gaitskell Aneurin Bevan Herbert Morrison
Parliamentary 157 70 40

Leader before election

Clement Attlee

Elected Leader

Hugh Gaitskell

The British Labour Party leadership election of 1955 was held following the resignation of Clement Attlee. Attlee had been Prime Minister 1945—1951 and had stayed on as leader of the Labour Party until he lost the 1955 general election.


Three candidates were nominated.

  1. The left wing candidate was the father of the National Health Service, former Minister of Health, Aneurin Bevan (born 1897). Bevan had represented the Welsh constituency of Ebbw Vale since 1929.
  2. The younger candidate from the right wing of the party was Hugh Gaitskell (born 1906), who had been Chancellor of the Exchequer 1950-1951. Gaitskell had been MP for Leeds South since 1945.
  3. A veteran right wing Labour minister Herbert Morrison (born 1888), who had been deputy leader as well as having served in the senior ministerial offices of Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary, was also seeking the leadership. Morrison, the leading London politician of his generation, had been an MP since 1923 (with some breaks) and was representing Lewisham South in 1955.


The result of the only ballot of Labour MPs on 14 December was as follows:

Only Ballot: 14 December 1955
Candidate Votes %
Hugh Gaitskell 157 58.80
Aneurin Bevan 70 26.22
Herbert Morrison 40 14.98
Majority 87 32.58
Turnout 267 96.39


  • Twentieth-Century British Political Facts 1900-2000, by David Butler and Gareth Butler (Macmillan Press, 8th edition 2000)
  • Who's Who of British Members of Parliament, Volume IV 1945-1979, edited by M. Stenton and S. Lees (Harvester Press 1981)
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