In 1951, Churchill finally avenged that devastating defeat of 1945 and was back in Downing Street. He was nearly seventy-seven. During this second period as Prime Minister, what he later referred to as ‘several years of quiet steady administration’, Churchill devoted much of his energy to foreign affairs; to Cold War issues, strengthening Anglo-American relations (that ‘special relationship’) and to retaining Britain’s position as a global power.
I want so much to lead the Conservatives back to victory. I know I am worth a million votes to them.
Quoted in Churchill, Michael Wardell, ‘Churchill’s Dagger: A Memoir of La Capponcina’, Finest Hour 87, Summer 1995
He didn’t do much in the way of domestic policy-making – stating once that the government’s priorities were ‘houses and meat and not being scuppered’ (John Colville, 22–23 March 1952).
The world stage was a much more exciting one. The Korean War was in staggering on, there were problems in Iran under the revolutionary regime of Mussadiq, and there were ongoing arguments over the agreed withdrawal from the Suez base in Egypt. And the simmering tensions of the Cold War were ever-present. Churchill’s last great quest was, as Eisenhower later referred to it, ‘a long quest for peace’.