United Kingdom general elections overview

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For the most recent general election, see United Kingdom general election, 2015.

The United Kingdom general elections overview is an overview of United Kingdom General Election results since 1922. The 1922 election was the first election in the new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, after the creation of the Irish Free State removed Southern Ireland from the UK.

A graph showing the percentage of the popular vote received by major parties in general elections, 1832-2005.

1979-2010[edit]

The last thirty years saw just five prime ministers, with Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair the two longest serving post-World War II prime ministers [1] in the UK (the other prime ministers during this period being John Major, Gordon Brown and David Cameron). There was also a mini-revival of the Liberal Party which, after a merger with the Social Democratic Party became the Liberal Democrats and increased their seats in parliament from 11 in the 1979 election to 62 in 2005. The outcome of the 2010 election brought about the first hung parliament since 1974 and forced the victorious Conservative Party to accept the Liberal Democrats as their coalition partner.

Voter turnout also fell during this period, with the 2001 election seeing a post-World War Two low of 59.4%.[2] In Northern Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement has led to a vast reduction in conflict, though the moderate parties who gained power in the 1980s, such as the Ulster Unionist Party, have been replaced as the dominant powers by the likes of Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party. The elections of the 1990s and 2000s (decade) also saw an increased proliferation of smaller parties, with more parties standing at the 2005 general election than ever before.[3]

Party 2005 2001 1997 1992 1987 1983 1979
 % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats
Alliance (NI) 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.2 0 0.2 0 0.2 0 0.3 0
BNP 0.7 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 - -
Communist 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.1 0 0.0 0 0.1 0
Community Action Party 0.0 0 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Conservative Party 32.4 198 31.7 166 30.7 165 41.9 336 42.2 376 42.4 397 43.9 339
Democratic Unionist 0.89 9 0.7 5 0.3 2 0.3 3 0.3 3 0.5 3 0.2 3
English Democrats Party 0.1 0 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Green Party of England and Wales / Green Party 1.0 0 0.6 0 0.3 0 0.5 0 0.3 0 0.2 0 0.1 0
Scottish Green Party 0.1 0 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Independents 0.5 1 0.4 0 0.1 1 0.1 0 - - 0.1 0 - -
Independent Conservative - - - - 0.0 0 0.1 0 - - 0.0 0 0.0 0
IKHHC 0.1 1 0.1 - - - - - - - - - - -
Independent Labour - - - - 0.0 0 0.1 0 - - 0.1 0 0.1 1
Independent Liberal / Independent Liberal Democrat - - - - 0.0 0 - - 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0
Independent SDLP - - - - - - - - - - - - 0.0 0
Irish Independence - - - - - - - - - - - - 0.1 0
Labour Party 35.24 356 40.7 412 43.2 418 34.4 271 30.8 229 27.6 209 36.9 269
Legalise Cannabis Alliance 0.0 0 0.0 0 - - - - - - - - - -
Liberal Democrats/
SDP-Liberal Alliance/
Liberal Party (UK)
22.06 62 18.3 52 16.8 46 17.8 20 22.6 22 25.4 23 13.8 11
Liberal Party (1989) 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 - - - - - -
Monster Raving Loony 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0.1 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 - -
National Democrats - - - - 0.0 0 - - - - - - - -
National Front 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 - - - - - -
Natural Law Party - - - - 0.1 0 0.2 0 - - - - - -
People's Justice Party - - 0.0 0 - - - - - - - - - -
Plaid Cymru 0.64 3 0.7 4 0.5 4 0.5 4 0.4 3 0.4 2 0.4 1
Progressive Unionist Party - - 0.0 0 0.1 0 - - - - - - - -
ProLife Alliance - - 0.0 0 0.1 0 - - - - - - - -
Protestant Unionist - - - - - - - - 0.0 0 - - - -
RESPECT The Unity Coalition 0.3 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Scottish Labour Party - - - - - - - - - - - - 0.1 0
Scottish Militant Labour - - - - - - 0.1 0 - - - - - -
Scottish National Party 1.57 6 1.8 5 2.0 6 1.9 3 1.3 3 1.1 1 1.6 2
Scottish Socialist Party 0.2 0 0.3 0 0.0 0 - - - - - - - -
Sinn Féin / Independent Republican 0.64 5 0.7 4 0.4 2 0.2 0 0.3 1 0.3 1 0.1 1
SDLP 0.5 3 0.6 3 0.6 3 0.5 4 0.5 3 0.4 1 0.4 1
Social Democratic Party - - - - - - 0.1 0 See SDP-Liberal Alliance - -
Socialist Labour 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.2 0 - - - - - - - -
Socialist Alliance 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 - - - - - - - -
Ulster Popular Unionist / Independent Ulster Unionist - - - - - - 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1
Ulster Unionist 0.5 1 0.8 6 0.8 10 0.8 9 0.8 9 0.8 1 0.8 5
Unionist Party - - - - - - - - - - - - 0.0 0
United Ulster Unionist - - - - - - - - - - - - 0.1 1
UK Independence Party 2.3 0 1.5 0 0.3 0 - - - - - - - -
UK Unionist / Real Unionist - - 0.1 0 0.1 1 - - 0.1 0 - - - -
Veritas 0.1 0 - - - - - - - - - - -
Workers' Party 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.0 0 0.1 0

1955-1974[edit]

The elections of this period took place in the context of the decolonialisation of the British Empire and the UK's declining status as a Great Power.[4] It also saw the UK enter the European Union and some periods of high unemployment.[5] The early years of the period saw Conservative consolidation of power, before Harold Wilson's two general election wins in 1964 and 1966. There was then a series of close fought elections, including two in 1974. This period was also the one in which the Liberal Party was at its all-time low, never having more than 14 seats (though it had been in 1951 when they'd had their lowest ever percentage of the vote).

The Ulster Unionists dominated in Northern Ireland, whilst the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru became major players for the first time, the SNP gaining 11 seats in 1974. This period also saw the demise of the autonomous Scottish Unionist Party, when it merged with the Conservative Party.

Party Oct 1974 Feb 1974 1970 1966 1964 1959 1955
 % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats
Alliance (NI) 0.2 0 0.1 0 - - - - - - - - - -
BNP - - - - - - 0.0 0 - - - - -
Communist 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.1 0
Conservative Party 35.8 277 37.9 297 46.4 330 41.9 253 43.4 304 49.4 365 49.7 345
Democratic Labour 0.1 0 0.1 1 - - - - - - - - - -
Democratic Party - - - - 0.1 0 - - - - - - - -
Democratic Unionist Party 0.3 1 0.2 1 - - - - - - - - - -
Labour Party 39.2 313 37.2 301 43.1 287 48.0 364 44.1 317 43.4 258 46.4 277
Labour Party (Ireland) - - - - - - - - - - - - 0.1 0
Labour Party(NI) 0.0 0 0.0 0 - - - - - - - - - -
Liberal Party 18.3 13 19.3 14 7.5 6 8.5 12 11.2 9 5.9 6 2.7 6
National Front 0.4 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 - - - - - - - -
Plaid Cymru 0.6 3 0.5 2 0.6 0 0.2 0 0.2 0 0.3 0 0.2 0
Independents 0.0 0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.0 0 0.2 0
Independent Conservative 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.1 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.1 1 - -
Independent Labour 0.2 0 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.0 0 - - - - 0.0 0
Independent Liberal 0.0 0 0.2 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.1 0 0.0 0 - -
Independent Socialist - - 0.0 0 - - - - - - - - - -
Independent Republican / Sinn Féin 0.2 1 0.0 0 - - 0.2 0 0.4 0 0.2 0 0.6 2
National Democratic - - - - 0.1 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 - -
National Democrats (NI) - - - - 0.1 0 - - - - - - - -
Nationalist (NI) - - - - - - 0.1 0 - - - - - -
NI Independent Labour - - - - - - - - - - 0.1 0
Protestant Unionist Party - - - - 0.1 1 - - - - - - - -
Republican Clubs 0.1 0 0.0 0 - - - - - - - - - -
Republican Labour - - - - 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 0 - -
Scottish National Party 2.9 11 2.0 7 1.1 1 0.5 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.0 0
SDLP 0.6 1 0.5 1 - - - - - - - - - -
Ulster Unionist Party 0.9 6 0.8 7 Before 1974, The UUP MPs sat in parliament as part of the Conservative Party
Unionist (NI) / Pro-Assembly Unionist 0.1 0 0.3 0 - - - - - - - - - -
Unity - - 0.0 0 0.4 2 - - - - - - - -
Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party 0.3 3 0.2 3 - - - - - - - - - -

1929-1951[edit]

This era saw massive social change in the UK, going through the Great Depression of the 1930s, the national government of the Second World War and the socialist Labour government of Clement Attlee.[6] The Labour party gained a landslide victory in 1945, contrasting with the pre-war dominance of the Conservative Party. This was also the period of the Liberal Party's major collapse, with their split into the Liberal and National Liberal parties (the National Liberals eventually joined the Conservatives) and the completion of Labour's rise to power.

1929 also saw the first Scottish and Welsh nationalist candidates.

Party 1951 1950 1945 1935 1931 1929
 % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats
Agricultural Party - - - - 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 -
Anti-Partition 0.0 0 0.0 0 - - - - - - - -
Common Wealth - - - - 0.5 1 - - - - - -
Commonwealth Labour - - - - 0.1 0 - - - - - -
Communist 0.1 0 0.3 0 0.4 2 0.1 1 0.3 0 0.2 0
Conservative Party 44.3 302 40.0 282 36.2 197 47.8 387 55.50 470 38.1 260
Independent 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.6 8 0.1 2 0.0 1 0.4 4
Independent Conservative 0.0 0 0.1 0 0.2 2 0.1 0 - - - -
Independent Labour - - 0.1 0 0.3 2 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.1 1
Independent Labour Party 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.2 3 0.7 4 - - - -
Independent Liberal - - 0.1 1 0.1 2 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.1 0
Independent Nationalist 0.3 2 - - 0.0 0 - - 0.0 0 - -
Independent Progressive - - - - 0.1 1 0.0 0 - - - -
Irish Nationalist - - 0.2 2 0.4 2 0.2 2 0.4 2 0.1 3
Labour Party 48.8 295 46.1 315 47.71 393 38.0 154 30.8 52 37.1 287
Labour Party (Ireland) 0.1 1 0.2 0 - - - - - - - -
Liberal Party 2.5 6 9.1 9 9.04 12 6.7 21 6.5 32 23.6 59
Liverpool Protestant - - - - 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 - -
National - - - - 0.5 2 0.3 1 0.5 4 - -
National Independent - - 0.0 0 0.3 2 0.2 2 0.2 2 - -
National Labour - - 0.0 0 - - - - - - - -
National Liberal 3.7 19 3.4 16 2.9 11 3.7 33 3.7 35 - -
National Party of Scotland - - - - - - - - 0.1 0 0.0 0
New Party - - - - - - - - 0.2 0 - -
Plaid Cymru 0.0 0 0.1 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0
Scottish National Party 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 - - - -
Scottish Prohibition - - - - - - - - 0.1 0 0.1 1
Sinn Féin 0.1 0 0.1 0 - - - - - - - -

1922-1924[edit]

In the years after the secession of the Irish Free State, the Conservatives led the House of Commons, followed by a surging Labour Party and a declining Liberal Party. The Communist Party of Great Britain also enjoyed their most prolonged period of success, though still failed to have more than 1 MP at any time.

Party 1924 1923 1922
 % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats  % Popular vote Seats
Agricultural Party - - - - 0.2 0
Belfast Labour Party 0.2 0 - - - -
Communist 0.2 1 0.2 0 0.2 1
Constitutionalist 1.2 7 0.1 0 0.1 1
Conservative 46.8 412 38.0 258 38.5 344
Independent 0.2 2 0.3 2 0.8 3
Independent Conservative 0.0 0 0.1 0 0.9 3
Independent Labour 0.0 0 0.2 0 0.1 1
Independent Liberal - - 0.1 1 0.1 1
Independent Nationalist - - - - 0.1 0
Irish Nationalist 0.0 1 0.4 3 0.4 3
Labour Party 33.3 151 30.7 191 29.7 142
Labour Party (Northern Ireland) 0.1 0 - - - -
Liberal Party 17.8 40 29.7 158 18.9 62
National Liberal - - - - 9.9 53
Scottish Prohibition 0.1 1 0.1 1 0.1 1
Sinn Féin 0.2 0 - - - -

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tony Blair's time in power". BBC News. 2005-02-06. Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  2. ^ "BBC summary of elections since 1945". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  3. ^ Electoral commission report on 2005 election[dead link]
  4. ^ "1959 election". BBC News. 2005-04-05. Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  5. ^ "February 1974 election". BBC News. 2005-04-05. Retrieved 2013-05-31. 
  6. ^ "Report on the 1945 election". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-05-31.