This general election has since been described by many[who?] as one of the "dullest" post war elections, because there was little change in the country[clarification needed], with Labour steadily losing ground owing to infighting between the left (Bevanites) and the right (Gaitskellites). This resulted in an unclear election message from the Labour Party. It was the fifth and last general election fought by Labour leader Clement Attlee, who by this time was 72. Eden had only just become leader of the Conservative party a few weeks before the election, after the retirement of Winston Churchill, but he had long been considered the heir apparent to the Conservative leadership. The Conservatives were hoping to take advantage of the end of food rationing and the good mood created by the recent coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Eden himself was telegenic, although not a great public speaker, and gradual economic growth benefited the party greatly. However, it was the last time the Conservatives won the most seats in Scotland; after 1959, Labour established itself as the dominant party in that country at UK general elections, a position it maintained until the rise of the Scottish National Party at the 2015 election.
For the first time television took a prominent role in the campaign, and this was the earliest UK general election of which television coverage survives (the 1950 and 1951 election nights were not recorded). Only three hours of the coverage presented by Richard Dimbleby was kept and this was rebroadcast on BBC Parliament on the 50th anniversary of the date.
On election day, the Daily Mirror had printed the front page headline "Don't Let The Tories Cheat Our Children", urging its readers to elect Labour on the basis that it had "built a better Britain for us all".
This election was fought on new boundaries, with 5 seats added to the 625 in 1951.
The result showed very little change from 1951, with fewer than 25 seats changing hands and only a small swing from Labour to the Conservatives. The only real highlight of the night was in Northern Ireland, where Sinn Féin won 2 seats in a British election for the first time since 1918 (before the partition of Ireland). Despite deep divisions in the Labour party, the election was not the disaster it could have been for that party. Although little changed, this was a strong victory for the Conservatives, who won the largest share of the vote for a single party in a post-war general election.