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Conservative Party (UK) leadership election, 1965: Wikis


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The Conservative Party leadership election of July 1965 was held to find a successor to Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

It was the first time that a formal election by the parliamentary party had taken place, previous leaders having emerged through a consultation process. This procedure had fallen into disrepute following the manoeuverings over the leadership at the 1963 party conference which had led to the appointment of Douglas-Home, then a hereditary member of the House of Lords.

There were three candidates for the party leadership - Edward Heath, then Shadow Chancellor; Reginald Maudling, Shadow Foreign Secretary; and Enoch Powell, Shadow Transport Minister. Maudling, the most experienced and publicly known of the candidates, was generally considered to be the favourite.

The result of the ballot on 27 July was as follows.

First Ballot: 27 July 1965
Candidate Votes %
Edward Heath 150 50.4
Reginald Maudling 133 44.6
Enoch Powell 15 5.0

The rules in place required a candidate to have both an absolute majority and at least a 15% margin of votes cast in the first ballot in order to win. Otherwise the election would have gone to further rounds. However Maudling conceded defeat and Heath was duly elected leader.

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