LONDON, Oct. 26, 1951 (UP) -- British voters placed Winston Churchill's Conservative Party at the helm of government today after six years of socialism.
Late in the afternoon the Conservatives gained an absolute majority of the 625 seats in the House of Commons. Churchill, the old warrior and the architect of victory in World War II, was called to Buckingham Palace and instructed by King George VI to form a new government.
Churchill won what he called his "last prize" at the age of 76. He becomes the second oldest man in history to become British prime minister.
There was some doubt that Churchill's slim majority would be sufficient in the new House of Commons to form a stable government.
Returns from 608 of Britain's 625 election districts gave:
Conservatives 313, a net gain of 22 seats.
Labor 292, a net loss of 19 seats.
Liberals 5, a net loss of 3 seats.
Clement Attlee's Labor Party held a slim majority of six votes in the last Parliament and frequently found itself embarrassed because it lacked the strength to push through its program. Today Attlee went to Buckingham Palace and surrendered his seals of office.
Labor took an early lead in yesterday's voting but the first returns were from the big cities, which are Labor strongholds. When the counting of votes was resumed today, returns rolled in from the rural areas and the Conservatives began to catch up. This morning they drew even with the Labor Party and then forged ahead.
The popular vole standings with 26,562,063 votes counted was:
Labor 12,958,713 or 49 per cent of the total counted, Conservatives 12,871,131 or 48 per cent, Liberals 643,825 or 2 per cent, Communist and others combined 68,910 or 1 per cent.
Labor led slightly in the popular vote at that stage, while trailing in the number of seats won, because Labor candidates, particularly in industrial areas, won by huge margins while Conservative victories were by smaller margins.
All 10 Communist candidates were defeated. They lost their 150 pound ($420) deposits because they failed to poll at least one-eighth of the total vote.
For Britain, the return of Churchill to No. 10 Downing St. will mean no more socialism; that is, no more than the country already has, and closer ties between Washington and London.
In Washington, U.S. officials predicted that the Conservative victory will result in an early White House meeting between President Truman and Churchill.
Churchill also has promised to go to Moscow to talk with Joseph Stalin if it will help bring world peace.
Churchill and Atlee both were elected to the new Parliament. So were at least six members of Churchill's "shadow cabinet." - the top men of the Conservative Party viewed as most likely to take government posts.
Anthony Eden, deputy party leader, is looked on as the most probable choice for foreign secretary.
Brig. Anthony Head has long been regarded as Churchill's choice for defense minister.
Other "shadow cabinet" men elected to the House of Commons are Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, Oliver Lyttleton, R.A. Butler and Harold MacMillan.
Conservatives were jubilant but anxious lest their House of Commons margin be too small for comfort. A Churchill bid for a coalition government with the handful of Liberals elected generally was expected.