United Kingdom general election, 1966

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United Kingdom general election, 1966
United Kingdom
1964 ←
members
31 March 1966 → 1970
members

All 630 seats in the House of Commons
316 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 75.8%
  First party Second party Third party
  Harold Wilson Number 10 official.jpg Edward Heath
Leader Harold Wilson Edward Heath Jo Grimond
Party Labour Conservative Liberal
Leader since 14 February 1963 28 July 1965 5 November 1956
Leader's seat Huyton Bexley Orkney and Shetland
Last election 317 seats, 44.1% 304 seats, 43.4% 9 seats, 11.2%
Seats won 364 253 12
Seat change Increase 48 Decrease 52 Increase 3
Popular vote 13,096,951 11,418,433 2,327,533
Percentage 48.0% 41.9% 8.5%
Swing Increase 3.9% Decrease 1.5% Decrease 2.7%

PM before election

Harold Wilson
Labour

Subsequent PM

Harold Wilson
Labour

1959 election MPs
1964 election MPs
1966 election MPs
1970 election MPs
February 1974 election MPs

The 1966 United Kingdom general election on 31 March 1966 was easily won by sitting Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Wilson's decision to call an election turned on the fact that his government, elected a mere 17 months previously in 1964, had an unworkably small majority of only 4 MPs. The Labour government was returned with a much larger majority of 96.[1]

Prior to the general election, in 1965, Labour had performed poorly in local elections, and lost a by-election, cutting their majority to just 2. Labour ran its campaign with the slogan "You know Labour government works".

Shortly after the local elections, Sir Alec Douglas-Home was replaced by Edward Heath as leader of the Conservative party.

The Conservatives had not really had time to prepare their campaign, although it was more professional than previously. There had been little time for Heath to become well known among the British public. For the Liberals, money was an issue: two elections in the space of just two years had left the party in a tight financial position.[2]

The election night was broadcast live on the BBC, and was presented by Cliff Michelmore, Robin Day, Robert McKenzie and David Butler. The election was replayed on the BBC parliament channel on the 40th anniversary of the event.[3]

Timeline[edit]

The Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced on 28 February that Parliament would be dissolved on 10 March, for an election to be held on 31 March. The key dates were as follows:

Thursday 10 March Dissolution of the 43rd parliament and campaigning officially begins
Monday 21 March Last day to file nomination papers; 1,707 candidates enter to contest 630 seats
Wednesday 30 March Campaigning officially ends
Thursday 31 March Polling day
Friday 1 April The Labour Party wins with an improved majority of 96
Monday 18 April 44th parliament assembles
Thursday 21 April State Opening of Parliament

National opinion poll summary[edit]

Research Services : 3% swing to Labour (forecast majority of 101)
National Opinion Polls : 3.5% swing to Labour (forecast majority of 115)
Gallup : 4.5% swing to Labour (forecast majority of 150)
Express (known as Harris): 7.5% swing to Labour (forecast majority of in excess of 255)

Results[edit]

364 253 12 1
Labour Conservative Lib O
United Kingdom general election 1966
Candidates Votes
Party Standing Elected Gained Unseated Net  % of total  % No. Net %
  Labour 622 364 49 1 + 48 57.8 48.0 13,096,629
  Conservative 629 253 0 52 - 52 40.2 41.9 11,418,455 -1.5
  Liberal 311 12 5 2 + 3 1.9 8.5 2,327,457
  SNP 23 0 0 0 0 0.5 128,474
  Independent Republican 5 0 0 0 0 0.2 62,782
  Communist 57 0 0 0 0 0.2 62,092
  Plaid Cymru 20 0 0 0 0 0.2 61,071
  Independent 15 0 0 0 0 0.1 35,039
  Republican Labour 1 1 1 0 + 1 0.2 0.1 26,292
  Nationalist 1 0 0 0 0 0.1 22,167
  Independent Liberal 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 5,689
  British National 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 5,182
  Independent Conservative 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 4,089
  Union Movement 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 4,075
  Independent Labour 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,031
  Fellowship 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 906
  National Democratic 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 769
  National Teenage 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 585
  Ind. Labour Party 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 441
  Socialist (GB) 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 333
  Radical Alliance 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 163
  Patriotic Party 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 126

All parties shown. The Conservative figure includes Ulster Unionists and National Liberals.

Government's new majority 98
Total votes cast 27,264,747
Turnout 75.8%

Votes summary[edit]

Popular vote
Labour
  
48.0%
Conservative and Allies
  
41.9%
Liberal
  
8.5%
Independent
  
0.4%
Others
  
1.14%

Headline Swing: 2.7% to Labour

Seats summary[edit]

Parliamentary seats
Labour
  
57.8%
Conservative and Allies
  
40.2%
Liberal
  
1.9%
Others
  
0.2%

Incumbents Defeated[edit]

Conservative[edit]

Labour[edit]

Liberal[edit]

Televised declarations[edit]

(From BBC Parliament Replay.) These declarations were covered live by the BBC where the returning officer was heard to say "duly elected".

Constituency Winning party 1964 Constituency result 1966 by party Winning party 1966
Con Lab Lib PC SNP Others
Cheltenham Conservative 22,683 19,768 Conservative hold
Wolverhampton North East Labour 12,965 21,067 Labour hold
Wolverhampton South West Conservative 21,466 14,881 Conservative hold
Salford West Labour 13,257 19,237 Labour hold
Salford East Labour 9,000 18,409 Labour hold
Exeter Conservative 18,613 22,189 4,869 Labour gain
Devon North Liberal 15,631 6,127 16,797 Liberal hold
Smethwick Conservative 14,550 18,440 508 Labour gain
Nelson and Colne Labour 13,829 18,406 5,117 Labour hold
Leyton Labour 18,157 26,803 3,851 441 Labour recovery
Huyton Labour 20,182 41,132 585 Labour hold
Billericay Conservative 38,371 40,013 7,587 Labour gain
Preston South Labour 17,931 20,720 Labour hold
Bexley Conservative 26,377 24,044 4,405 Conservative hold
Brentford and Chiswick Conservative 14,031 14,638 2,063 Labour gain
Aberdeenshire West Conservative 13,956 6,008 15,151 Liberal gain
Taunton Conservative 22,359 19,216 5,460 Conservative hold
Monmouth Conservative 25,654 28,619 Labour gain
  • The 5,117 votes polled for the "Others" in Nelson and Colne were all polled for Patrick Downey, uncle of Lesley Ann Downey who had been murdered by the Moors Murderers. Downey advocated the return of hanging.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The BBC lists this result as 363 seats, which would give a majority of 96, due to the Speaker's seat being listed as "other", although the BBC tends to include the Speaker in the party totals. 364 seats would naturally result in a majority of 98.
  2. ^ 1966: Wilson gains mandate BBC News
  3. ^ BBC News Election replay 1966

Further reading[edit]

Manifestos[edit]

Notes[edit]