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October 25, 1951 was polling day in the parliamentary elections, with the polls open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. That morning the front page of the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror, a tabloid with a circulation of six million, ran the headline “Whose Finger on the Trigger?” with the image of a man with a cigar in close profile. The page was the culmination of the implied charges from the Labour party during the campaign that Winston Churchill was a warmonger whose Conservative party could not be trusted to keep the peace. By midday the Conservative Central Office had issued a statement that a writ had been issued against the Daily Mirror by Churchill for libel. The action eventually resulted in a full apology being given by the newspaper.

Churchill spent most of the day at his London home at Hyde Park Gate. At three o’clock that afternoon he arrived at the polling station at St. Stephen’s Hall in South Kensington where a large crowd had gathered to cheer him. He was greeted by Sir Patrick Spens, the Conservative candidate in South Kensington, as he alighted from his car. Emerging from the building after voting, Churchill received extended cheers and replied with the V-sign.

After the polls closed and the counting began, Churchill and Clementine remained at Hyde Park Gate and were joined by Lady Woolton, the wife of the Conservative Party chairman. A room in the house had been specially equipped to track the election results, with a ticker tape reporting each return and a chart of the wall maintained by secretaries with columns for the Conservative, Labour, and Liberal seat totals. The counting continued until the early hours of the next day when it was suspended for the night. At the time it was suspended a little more than half of the constituencies had reported with Labour holding a lead with 175 seats to the Conservative’s 145 seats. A Conservative victory was expected when counting resumed as the strongly Churchill-supporting districts from the largely rural constituencies would begin to report.

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