Anthony Eden and the Suez Crisis

'In trying to preserve the political conditions of international life, he allowed himself to become unscrupulous' - thirty years on Eden's coup de main against Nasser seems less untimely realpolitik and more moral dilemma.

Is it really 30 years since the 1956 Suez Crisis convulsed Britain, gravely imperilled the Anglo- American Alliance, brought the House of Commons to unparalleled and unrepeated chaos, and nearly brought down a British Government? No political event of modern times, with the possible exception of Munich, aroused such emotion, divided families, and ended friendships. Nor was there any clear Party political alignment. All one's experience at the time is borne out by what polling evidence there is – there were Conservatives who were against their Government, and Labour and Liberal supporters who applauded the operation, which had, if unconvincingly, majority support in the country. In the 1959 General Election Conservatives found that Suez was a factor in their favour, and harmful to Labour, and Labour MPs experienced difficulties with their traditional voters. The casualties on the Conservative side of those who had had the courage – and it required it – to stand against Suez were surprisingly few, given the passions of the time.

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