1955 Labour Party leadership election
← 1935 14 December 1955 (1955-12-14) 1960 →
Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell.jpg
Aneurin Bevan (crop).jpg
Candidate Hugh Gaitskell Aneurin Bevan Herbert Morrison
Popular vote 157 70 40
Percentage 58.8% 26.2% 15.0%

Leader before election

Clement Attlee

Elected Leader

Hugh Gaitskell

The 1955 Labour Party leadership election was held following the resignation of Clement Attlee. Attlee was Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951 and stayed on as party leader 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), former Chancellor of the Exchequer (1950–1951). Gaitskell had been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Leeds South since 1945.
  3. Former Deputy Prime 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 58.8
Aneurin Bevan 70 26.2
Herbert Morrison 40 15.0
Majority 87 32.6
Turnout 267 96.4
Hugh Gaitskell elected


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