United Kingdom local elections, 1981

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United Kingdom local elections, 1981
United Kingdom
1980 ←
7 May 1981 (England & Wales)
20 May 1981 (Northern Ireland)
→ 1982

1 Unicameral area, all 6 metropolitan counties,
all 39 non-metropolitan counties, 1 sui generis authority,
all 26 Northern Irish districts and all 8 Welsh counties
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Margaret Thatcher cropped2.png Michael Foot (1981).jpg David Steel, October 2007.jpg
Leader Margaret Thatcher Michael Foot David Steel
Party Conservative Labour Liberal
Leader since 11 February 1975 10 November 1980 7 July 1976
Percentage 38% 41% 17%
Councillors 10,545 8,999 1,455
Councillors +/- Decrease 1,193 Increase 988 Increase 306

United Kingdom local elections, 1981.svg

Colours denote the winning party, as shown in the main table of results.

Local elections were held in the United Kingdom in May 1981. The results were a mid-term setback for the Conservative government, which lost 1,193 seats, leaving them with 10,545 councillors. The projected share of the vote was more respectable for the government, however: Labour 41%, Conservatives 38%, Liberals 17%. This was in spite of opinion polls showing a much wider Labour lead over the Conservatives. These were the first elections to be contested by Labour under the leadership of Michael Foot, who had succeeded James Callaghan in late 1980.

Elections took place for the county councils and the Greater London Council, which elected 50 Labour councillors, 41 Conservatives and 1 Liberal.

In terms of the county councils, changes in party control were as follows;

Labour gain from Conservative: Cumbria, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire

Labour gain from no overall control: Northumberland

Conservative lose to no overall control: Bedfordshire, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire

Liberal gain from Conservative: Isle of Wight

Labour gained 988 overall seats, bringing their number of councillors to 8,999. These was the first electoral test for Labour leader Michael Foot, who had become Labour leader in November 1980.

The Liberal Party gained 306 seats and finished with 1,455 councillors. The 1981 local elections were to be the last to be held before the Liberals formed an alliance with the new Social Democratic Party (SDP) in June 1981.

Summary of results[edit]

England[edit]

County Council election results in England and Wales.

Unicameral area[edit]

This was the last election to the council before it was abolished by the Local Government Act 1985.

Council Previous control Result Details
Greater London Conservative Labour gain Details

Metropolitan county councils[edit]

These were the last elections to the county councils before they were abolished by the Local Government Act 1985.

Council Previous control Result Details
Greater Manchester Conservative Labour gain Details
Merseyside Conservative Labour gain Details
South Yorkshire Labour Labour hold Details
Tyne and Wear Labour Labour hold Details
West Midlands Conservative Labour gain Details
West Yorkshire Conservative Labour gain Details

Non-metropolitan county councils[edit]

Council Previous control Result Details
Avon Conservative Labour gain Details
Bedfordshire Conservative No overall control gain Details
Berkshire Conservative No overall control gain Details
Buckinghamshire Conservative Conservative hold Details
Cambridgeshire Conservative Conservative hold Details
Cheshire No overall control No overall control hold Details
Cleveland Conservative Labour gain Details
Cornwall Independent Independent hold Details
Cumbria Conservative Labour gain Details
Derbyshire Conservative Labour gain Details
Devon Conservative Conservative hold Details
Dorset Conservative Conservative hold Details
Durham Labour Labour hold Details
East Sussex Conservative Conservative hold Details
Essex Conservative Conservative hold Details
Gloucestershire Conservative No overall control gain Details
Hampshire Conservative Conservative hold Details
Hereford and Worcester Conservative Conservative hold Details
Hertfordshire Conservative Conservative hold Details
Humberside Conservative Labour gain Details
Isle of Wight Conservative Liberal gain Details
Kent Conservative Conservative hold Details
Lancashire Conservative Labour gain Details
Leicestershire Conservative No overall control gain Details
Lincolnshire Conservative Conservative hold Details
Norfolk Conservative Conservative hold Details
North Yorkshire Conservative Conservative hold Details
Northamptonshire Conservative No overall control gain Details
Northumberland No overall control Labour gain Details
Nottinghamshire Conservative Labour gain Details
Oxfordshire Conservative Conservative hold Details
Shropshire No overall control No overall control hold Details
Somerset Conservative Conservative hold Details
Staffordshire Conservative Labour gain Details
Suffolk Conservative Conservative hold Details
Surrey Conservative Conservative hold Details
Warwickshire Conservative No overall control gain Details
West Sussex Conservative Conservative hold Details
Wiltshire Conservative Conservative hold Details

Sui generis[edit]

Council Previous control Result Details
Isles of Scilly Details

Northern Ireland[edit]

Map of the largest party by council area.
Council Previous control Result Details
Antrim UUP No overall control Details
Ards No overall control No overall control Details
Armagh No overall control No overall control Details
Ballymena DUP DUP Details
Ballymoney No overall control No overall control Details
Banbridge UUP UUP Details
Belfast No overall control No overall control Details
Carrickfergus No overall control No overall control Details
Castlereagh No overall control No overall control Details
Coleraine UUP No overall control Details
Cookstown No overall control No overall control Details
Craigavon No overall control No overall control Details
Down SDLP No overall control Details
Dungannon No overall control No overall control Details
Fermanagh No overall control No overall control Details
Larne No overall control No overall control Details
Limavady No overall control No overall control Details
Lisburn No overall control No overall control Details
Londonderry No overall control SDLP Details
Magherafelt No overall control No overall control Details
Moyle No overall control No overall control Details
Newry and Mourne SDLP SDLP Details
Newtownabbey No overall control No overall control Details
North Down No overall control No overall control Details
Omagh No overall control No overall control Details
Strabane No overall control No overall control Details

Wales[edit]

County councils[edit]

Council Previous control Result Details
Clwyd No overall control No overall control hold Details
Dyfed Independent No overall control gain Details
Gwent No overall control Labour gain Details
Gwynedd Independent Independent hold Details
Mid Glamorgan Labour Labour hold Details
Powys Independent Independent hold Details
South Glamorgan Conservative Labour gain Details
West Glamorgan Labour Labour hold Details

References[edit]