European Parliament election, 1979 (United Kingdom)

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United Kingdom European Parliament election, 1979
United Kingdom
7 June 1979 → 1984

81 seats to the European Parliament
Turnout 32.7%
  First party Second party
  Margaret Thatcher cropped2.png James Callaghan and Carter crop.jpg
Leader Margaret Thatcher James Callaghan
Party Conservative Labour
Alliance EPP PES
Leader since 11 February 1975 5 April 1976
Seats won 60 17
Popular vote 6,508,492 4,253,247
Percentage 48.4% 31.6%

Leader of Largest Party

Margaret Thatcher
Conservative

The European Assembly Election, 1979, was the first European election to be held in the United Kingdom after the European Community (EC) decided to directly elect representatives to the European Parliament. It was held on 7 June. Elections were also held in eight other EC states. European elections were incorporated into UK law by the European Assembly Elections Act 1978. Out of the 410 members of the European Parliament, 81 were elected from the UK. The electoral system was First Past the Post in England, Scotland and Wales (electing 78 MEPs in total) and Single Transferable Vote in Northern Ireland (electing 3 MEPs).

The result was a landslide victory for the Conservative Party, which won 60 of the 78 seats available in England, Wales and Scotland. Their decisive victory in the general election of the previous month and divisions within the Labour party on whether to stay in the EC probably helped the Conservatives to such a comprehensive victory. There was a very low turnout in the election compared with other states, the lowest in Europe. Voter apathy was an explanation, but it is likely the large number of elections in 1979 had a significant negative effect on turnout. There were referendums in Scotland and Wales on devolution in March and the general election in May, as well as local elections in England (not including London) and Wales.

  • Overall (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) turnout: 32.7% (EC average: 63%)
  • Overall votes cast: 13,460,091

England, Scotland and Wales[edit]

Map of the Scottish results.

Source: UK Office of the European Parliament

Note: percentages are approximate

Party Votes Seats Share of Vote (%)
Conservative 6,508,492 60 48.4
Labour 4,253,247 17 31.6
Liberal 1,690,638 0 12.6
SNP 247,836 1 1.9
Plaid Cymru 83,399 0 1
United Against the Common Market 27,506 0 0
Independent 23,539 0 0
Ecology 17,953 0 0
Mebyon Kernow 10,205 0 0
Independent Conservative 4,804 0 0
Independent Democratic 2,473 0 0
International Marxist 1,635 0 0
EFP 497 0 0

Total votes cast - 12,873,852.

Constituency Results[edit]

Constituency Constituency result by party Winning party 1984
Con Lab Lib PC SNP Others
Bedfordshire Conservative
Birmingham North Conservative
Birmingham South Conservative
Bristol Conservative
Cambridgeshire Conservative
Cheshire East Conservative
Cheshire West Conservative
Cleveland Conservative
Cornwall and Plymouth Conservative
Cotswolds Conservative
Cumbria Conservative
Derbyshire Conservative
Devon Conservative
Durham Labour
Essex North East Conservative
Essex South West Conservative
Glasgow 41,144 73,846 11,073 24,776 Labour
Greater Manchester North Labour
Greater Manchester South Conservative
Greater Manchester West Conservative
Hampshire West Conservative
Hereford and Worcester Conservative
Hertfordshire Conservative
Highlands and Islands 30,776 10,846 36,109 39,991 SNP
Humberside Conservative
Kent East Conservative
Kent West Conservative
Lancashire Central Conservative
Lancashire East Conservative
Lancashire West Conservative
Leeds Labour
Leicester Conservative
Lincolnshire Conservative
Liverpool Conservative
London Central 84,915 45,721 19,010 6,448 Conservative
London East 77,955 64,925 16,783 Conservative
London North 74,042 59,077 15,838 Conservative
London North East 36,200 61,004 8,839 Labour
London North West 87,596 49,268 21,618 Conservative
London South 98,298 44,967 23,526 Conservative
London South East 94,180 54,798 21,494 890 Conservative
London South Inner 60,652 67,830 10,509 Labour
London South West 83,498 51,742 21,251 3,810 Conservative
London West 89,433 67,193 17,077 1,635 Conservative
Lothians 66,761 61,180 29,518 29,935 Conservative
Mid and West Wales 67,226 77,474 17,628 22,730 1,826 Labour
Mid Scotland and Fife 66,255 58,768 18,112 45,426 Conservative
Midlands Central Conservative
Midlands East Conservative
Midlands West Conservative
Norfolk Conservative
North East Scotland 51,930 38,139 38,516 28,886 Conservative
North Wales 74,173 46,627 21,989 34,171 Conservative
Northamptonshire Conservative
Northumbria Labour
Nottingham Labour
Salop and Stafford Conservative
Sheffield Labour
Somerset Conservative
South East Wales 51,478 93,093 10,534 12,469 2,182 Labour
South of Scotland 66,816 43,145 16,825 28,694 Conservative
South Wales 66,852 77,784 17,811 14,029 Labour
Staffordshire East Conservative
Strathclyde East 41,482 72,263 10,325 21,013 Labour
Strathclyde West 65,608 63,781 17,955 29,115 Conservative
Suffolk Conservative
Surrey Conservative
Sussex East Conservative
Sussex West Conservative
Thames Valley Conservative
Tyne South and Wear Labour
Upper Thames Conservative
Wessex Conservative
Wight and Hampshire East Conservative
Wiltshire Conservative
Yorkshire North Conservative
Yorkshire South Labour
Yorkshire South West Labour
Yorkshire West Labour

Northern Ireland[edit]

Source Northern Ireland Social and Political Archive

Party Candidate(s) Seats First Preference Votes
Number  % of vote
DUP Ian Paisley 1 170,688 29.8
SDLP John Hume 1 140,622 25.5
UUP John Taylor,
Harry West
1 125,169 21.9
Alliance Oliver Napier 0 39,026 6.8
Independent Unionist James Kilfedder 0 38,198 6.7
Independent Republican Bernadette McAliskey 0 33,969 5.9
United Community David Bleakley 0 9,383 1.6
United Labour Paddy Devlin 0 6,122 1.1
Workers' Party Brian Brennan,
Francis Donnelly
0 4,418 0.8
Unionist Party NI Eddie Cummings 0 3,712 0.6
Liberal James Murray 0 932 0.2

Total votes cast - 572,239.

Party Leaders in June 1979[edit]

See also[edit]