United Kingdom general election records
UK general election records is an annotated list of notable records from
United Kingdom general elections.
Prior to 1945, electoral competition in the United Kingdom exhibited features which make meaningful comparisons with modern results difficult.
Among the most significant were:-
*Frequent interventions and withdrawals of parties in different seats.
*Frequent Coalitions between parties, splits within parties and floor-crossing by members.
*Uncontested elections and truces between parties, in particular during both World Wars.
*Generally more significant competition from independent candidates and minor parties.
*Multi-member seats and University seats.
*Higher frequency of general elections, although parliaments were extended during both World Wars.
*Generally higher turnouts.
*Generally higher variation in size of constituency electorates.
Since 1945, the evolution of a stable 3-party system has tended to negate each of the above features so that, broadly speaking, elections are more comparable.
Northern Ireland, as ever, the pattern of party competition is completely different from that on the mainland and comparisons remain problematic.
Hence, unless otherwise stated records are based on results since the 1945 General Election, and earlier exceptional results are listed separately.
For comparison purposes the following definitions have been adopted.
*Gain - victory by a "party" which was not victorious at the immediate previous election.
*Loss - defeat of a "party" which was victorious at the immediate previous election.
*Hold - victory by a "party" which was victorious at the immediate previous election.
*Win - victory by a "party". Ambiguous term that could mean either a gain or a hold.
*Incumbent - the "party" which held the seat at the immediate previous election, irrespective of any intervening change of candidate or candidate's change of party.
*Third Party - In England, since 1922, the "third party" has been the Liberal party through its Alliance with the SDP and their successors up to the present day
Liberal Democrats. Additionally, in Scotlandand Walesthe Scottish National Partyand Plaid Cymruare also considered to be Third Parties. Prior to 1922, the third party was the Labour party.
*Minor Party - parties smaller than the Third Party
*Uncontested - an election where only one candidate is put forward. No votes are actually cast and the candidate is by definition the victor.
*Notional - boundary changes occur about every 10-15 years. Invariably the political composition of many seats is changed as a result, sometimes decisively. Professors
Colin Rallingsand Michael Thrasherhave compiled notional results for the last few sets of boundary changes, predicting what the result would have been at the "previous" election under the "new" boundaries. While accurate overall, the results in a few seats indicate that they may have been mistaken.
For more information about what is meant by the term "swing", see
*Merthyr Tydfil, 1970 - 20.83% [ [http://www.election.demon.co.uk/recordswing.html David Boothroyd] ]
From Labour to Conservative
Largest fall in percentage share of vote
A party's share of the vote at a general election is not always matched at subsequent general elections, but given the five-year maximum term of a Parliament, reductions of 20% or more are unusual.
Conservative reductions in vote
Labour reductions in vote
Independent Labour Party, Glasgow Bridgeton, 1950: - 60.6%
Ulster Unionist Party, North Down, 1979: - 53.1%
Ulster Unionist Party, North Antrim, 1970: - 41.5%
Sinn Féin, Fermanagh and South Tyrone, 1959: - 40.8%
Ulster Unionist Party, Belfast North, 2001: - 39.8%
Largest increase in percentage share of vote
These records detail the change in the share of the vote by parties when compared to the same constituency in the previous General Election. In some cases, such as Brent East in 2005 for the Liberal Democrats, the figures should be framed by the context of a
by-electionin that constituency between the two Elections.
It should also be noted that boundary changes between elections will make comparison between altered seats difficult if not impossible.
*Brent East, 2005: + 36.9%
*Liverpool Broadgreen, 1987: + 24.7%
*Kingston and Surbiton, 2001: + 23.5%
*Birmingham Ladywood, 2005: + 23.3%
*Birmingham Hodge Hill, 2005: + 21.4%
*Sheffield Hallam, 1997: + 20.6%
*Manchester Withington, 2005: + 20.4%
*SNP, Glasgow Govan, 1992: + 26.7%
Largest winning share of the vote
:Largest share of the vote won by any candidate, since 1918:
George Currie, Ulster Unionist, North Down, 1959: 98.0%
George Currie, Ulster Unionist, North Down, 1955: 96.9%
Knox Cunningham, Ulster Unionist, South Antrim, 1959: 95.1%
*Phelim O'Neill, Ulster Unionist, North Antrim, 1959: 94.9%
Will Thorne, Labour, Plaistow, 1918: 94.9%
Largest number of votes
The most votes received by a single individual in a general election was Sir Cooper Rawson who polled 75205 votes when being reelected as MP for Brighton in
1931. However Brighton was a two-member constituency with a larger than average electorate.
The largest majority received by an individual is also Sir Cooper Rawson, reelected with a majority of 62253 at Brighton in
1931. The largest majority received by a woman is 38823 by the Countess of Iveagh elected MP for Southend in 1931.
Lowest winning share of the vote
All general election victors receiving less than 33.33% of the vote are listed. The list is complete from 1945 onwards. Seats with more than one member are omitted.
Lowest share of the vote
Major parties winning 2% or less of the vote
*B. Price, Conservative, Upper Bann, 1997: 0.9%
*R. Smith, Liberal, South Antrim, 1970: 0.9%
*A. Seaton, Conservative, Pontypridd, 1918: 1.1%
*J. S. Holmes, Conservative, East Londonderry, 1997: 1.1%
*H. Simonds-Gooding, Liberal, North Down, 1970: 1.3%
*Alan Greer, Conservative, Belfast East, 2005: 1.4%
*C. J. Canning, Liberal, Dundee West, 1950: 1.9%
*E. W. Mason, Liberal, Glasgow Govan, October 1974, 1.9%
*A. W. Bowkett, Liberal, Birmingham Ladywood, 1924, 2.0%
:Labour's worst vote was 2.2% for S. P. Gordon in Glasgow Bridgeton in 1935.
Candidates winning fewer than ten votes
Catherine Taylor-Dawson, Vote For Yourself Rainbow Dream Ticket, Cardiff North (2005):5: Martin Kyslun, Independent, West Derbyshire (2005):7: Dorian Vanbraam, Renaissance Democrat, Putney (1997)
*0 votes: Ashton-under-Lyne, 1886 1
*1 vote: Exeter, December 1910 2
*2 votes: Ilkeston, 1931
*2 votes: Winchester, 1997
*3 votes: Carmarthen, February 1974
*3 votes: Peterborough, 1966
*4 votes: Worcester, 1945
*6 votes: Caithness and Sutherland, 1945
*7 votes: Leicester South, 1983
*7 votes: Brighton Kemptown, 1964
*9 votes: Bodmin, February 1974
*10 votes: Reading, 1964
*10 votes: Manchester Rusholme, 1945
*11 votes: Eton and Slough, 1964
*12 votes: Torbay, 1997
*12 votes: South East Derbyshire, 1959
*13 votes: Ipswich, 1970
*14 votes: Preston North, 1964
*15 votes: Northwich, 1945
*16 votes: Preston South, 1951
*19 votes: Vale of Glamorgan, 1992
*20 votes: Birmingham All Saints, 1959
*21 votes: Hyndburn, 1983
*22 votes: Peterborough, February 1974
*22 votes: East Dunbartonshire, October 1974
*25 votes: Belfast West, 1951
*27 votes: Ealing North, 1964
*28 votes: Stroud and Thornbury, 1950
*29 votes: Preston North, 1979
*30 votes: Galloway, October 1974
*1 At the election, the sitting Conservative Member,
John Wentworth Addison, tied with his Liberal opponent, A.B. Rowley, on 3,049 votes each. The returning officer, acting under the law at the time, gave a casting vote to Addison, giving him an effective majority of one.
*2 At the election, the Liberal candidate,
Harold St. Maurwas declared elected by a majority of 4 votes, but on petition, after a lengthy hearing and several recounts at the High Court, the previous Conservative Member Henry Dukewas declared elected by a single vote.
:Highest turnouts in any general election since 1918:
*Fermanagh and South Tyrone, 1951: 93.4%Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, "British electoral facts" (Parliamentary Research Services)]
*Darwen, 1924: 92.7%
:All turnouts below 35% from 1918:
*Lambeth Kennington, 1918: 29.7%
*Birmingham Deritend, 1918: 30.7%
*Bethnal Green North East, 1918: 31.2%
*Birmingham Duddeston, 1918: 32.4%
*Limehouse, 1918: 33.4%
*Liverpool Riverside, 2001: 34.1%
*Aberdeenshire and East Kincardineshire, 1918: 34.2%
:Until 2001, the lowest turnout after 1918 was 37.4% in Orkney and Shetland in 1922.
Any number of candidates can be nominated for election under current UK electoral law. There are no restrictions, with the only required stipulation (other than residency rules) being the valid nomination of ten electors from the constituency. Candidates must pay a £500 deposit which is only refunded if the candidate wins 5% or more of the votes cast.
Only two constituencies have seen more than ten candidates stand in a general election:
Durable general election candidates
A selection of politicians who have contested seats in at least thirteen general elections are listed:
*Peter Tapsell has contested thirteen consecutive general elections from 1959 to 2005 (plus one by-election in 1957).
Tony Benncontested thirteen consecutive general elections from 1951 to 1997 (plus four by-elections, the first in 1950).
Edward Heathcontested, and won, fourteen consecutive general elections from 1950 to 1997.
Michael Footcontested fourteen consecutive general elections from 1935 to 1987 (plus one by-election).
Winston Churchillcontested sixteen consecutive general elections from 1900 to 1959 (plus five by-elections, the first in 1899).
Edward Turnour, 6th Earl Wintertoncontested, and won, a seat at thirteen consecutive general elections (plus one by-election in 1904).
David Lloyd Georgecontested, and won, a seat at thirteen consecutive general elections (plus one by-election).
T. P. O'Connorcontested, and won, a seat at fourteen consecutive general elections
Charles Pelham Villierscontested, and won, a seat at fifteen consecutive general elections
MPs defeated at consecutive general elections
On rare occasions an MP has been defeated at a general election, returned at a by-election, only to be defeated again at the subsequent general election. Shirley Williams is distinguished by achieving this while in two different parties.
*William McCrea, 1997 and 2001a
Shirley Williams, 1979 and 1983
Arthur Henderson, 1918, 1922 and 1923b
*a returned to Parliament at a subsequent general election
*b returned to Parliament at a subsequent by-election
Former MPs unsuccessful at subsequent general elections
It is unusual for a defeated MP to pursue more than a couple of attempts at re-election.
Robert McIntyre, 1950, 1951, 1955, 1959, 1964, 1966, 1970, Feb 1974 and Oct 1974. a
Dave Nellist, 1997, 2001 and 2005 a
Tom Mitchell, 1959, 1964 and 1966 b
*Mike Carr, 1997 and 2001 b
*a in various seats
*b in the same seat
Attempts at a comeback usually occur almost immediately
Joseph Jackson Cleary, 1955: 20 years after his defeat
Future MPs unsuccessful at previous general elections
It is unusual for a candidate who has been unsuccessful on more than a couple of occasions to finally win a seat.
Alasdair McDonnell, elected for Belfast South in 2005, after standing in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997 and 2001 (and a by-election in 1982), and previously in North Antrim in 1970.
*Gregory Campbell, elected for East Londonderry in 2001, after standing in 1997, and previously in Foyle in 1983, 1987 and 1992.
Martin McGuinness, elected for Mid Ulster in 1997, after standing in Foyle in 1983, 1987 and 1992.
Edwin Scrymgeour, elected for Dundee in 1922, after standing in January 1910, December 1910 and 1918 (and also in the 1908 and 1917 by-elections).
Former MPs making a comeback at a general election
David Evennett, William McCrea, Malcolm Rifkind
Henry Bellingham, Alistair Burt, Derek Conway, Charles Hendry, Greg Knight, Bob Spink
Gerry Adams, Alan Clark, Michael Fallon, Gerald Howarth, Frank Doran, Christopher Chope, Huw Edwards, Ronnie Fearn, Mike Hancock, Ashok Kumar, Richard Livsey, Humfrey Malins, John Maples, Francis Maude, Jonathan Sayeed
* 1983: Robin Corbett,
Bryan Gould, Andrew MacKay, Margaret Beckett, Edward Loyden, Max Madden, Brian Sedgemore
* February 1974
Gwyneth Dunwoody, Michael Winstanley, Richard Wainwright, Winifred Ewing
Julian Critchley, James Kilfedder
Richard Body, Peter Tapsell
hortest-serving general election victors
Alfred Dobbs, Labour Smethwick, 1945 1 day 1
John Sunderland, Labour Preston, 1945 122 days 1
John Whittaker, Labour Heywood and Radcliffe, 1945 137 days 1
Philip Clarke, Sinn Féin Fermanagh and South Tyrone, 1955 152 days 3x
*Thomas Mitchell, Sinn Féin Mid-Ulster, 1955 152 days 3x
Harry West, Ulster Unionist Fermanagh and South Tyrone, February 1974 224 days 2
Michael Ancram, Conservative Berwick and East Lothian, February 1974 224 days 2a
Barry Henderson, Conservative East Dunbartonshire, February 1974 224 days 2a
*Paul Tyler, Liberal Bodmin, February 1974 224 days 2a
Michael Winstanley, Liberal Hazel Grove, February 1974 224 days 2b
James Godfrey MacManaway, Unionist Belfast West, 1950 238 days 3
Judith Chaplin, Conservative Newbury, 1992 316 days 1
Peter Law, Independent Blaenau Gwent, 2005 355 days 1
*Thomas Higgins, Nationalist Galway North, 1906 0 days 1
Joseph Nicholas Bell, Labour Newcastle East, 1922 32 days 1
Harry Wrightson, Conservative Leyton West, 1918 32 days 1
Hugh Alfred Anderson, Unionist Londonderry North, 1918 66 days 4
Alexander Theodore Gordon, Conservative Aberdeen and Kincardine Central, 1918 68 days 1
Charles James Mathew, Labour Whitechapel and St. George's, 1922 85 days 1
Robert Climie, Labour Kilmarnock, 1929 126 days 1b
John Gibb Thom, Conservative Dunbartonshire, 1931 142 days 4b
Richard Mathias, Liberal Cheltenham, Dec 1910 144 days 3
George Brown Hillman, Conservative Wakefield, 1931 144 days 1
*John Barker, Liberal Maidstone, 1900 147 days 3a
Edward George Clarke, Conservative City of London, 1906 150 days 4b
Frederick Guest, Liberal East Dorset, Jan 1910 154 days 3a
*Eugene O'Sullivan, Ind. Nationalist East Kerry, Jan 1910 170 days 3
David Henderson MacDonald, Conservative Bothwell, 1918 176 days 1
Thomas Agar-Robartes, Liberal Bodmin, 1906 183 days 3a
Herbert Sparkes, Conservative Tiverton, 1922 188 days 1
Hilton Philipson, National Liberal Berwick-on-Tweed, 1922 197 days 3
*Armine Wodehouse, Conservative Saffron Walden, 1900 200 days 1
Frederick Rutherfoord Harris, Conservative Monmouth, 1900 210 days 3a
Moreton Frewen, Ind. Nationalist Cork North-East, Dec 1910 220 days 4
Arthur Wellesley Willey, Conservative Leeds Central, 1922 229 days 1
Ellis Ellis-Griffith, Liberal Carmarthen, 1923 252 days 4b
*William Ward, Conservative Wednesbury, 1931 273 days 5b
Alfred Holland, Labour Clay Cross, 1935 290 days 1
Charles Harvey Dixon, Conservative Rutland and Stamford, 1922 311 days 1b
Arthur Henniker-Hughan, Conservative Galloway, 1924 340 days 1
George Ernest Spero, Labour Fulham West, 1929 341 days 4b
*Martin Morris, Unionist Galway Borough, 1900 342 days 5
*2 defeated at next general election
*5 succeeded to the Peerage
*a returned to Parliament at a subsequent election
*b had served previously as an MP
*x Since Clarke and Mitchell were elected on abstentionist tickets, and were serving jail sentences at the time, their calculated length of service is somewhat theoretical.
Youngest general election victors
Babies of the House elected at general elections
Baby of the House of Commons
Youngest to leave the House
Thomas Leslie Teevan1951, aged 241
*Edward Stanley 1918, aged 242 (re-elected 1922)
Patrick Joseph Whitty1918, aged 242
*Joseph Sweeney 1922, aged about 252 (did not take his seat)
Hugh Lucas-Tooth1929, aged 261 (re-elected 1945)
Bernadette Devlin McAliskeyFebruary 1974, aged 261
*Jennie Lee 1931, aged 261 (re-elected 1945)
Christopher Ward1970, aged 271
*David Reed 1974, aged 282
Michael AncramOctober 1974, aged 291 (re-elected 1979)
Andrew Mackay1979, aged 291 (re-elected 1983)
Margo MacDonaldFebruary 1974, aged 291
Helene Hayman1979, aged 301
*John Ryan 1970, aged 301
Graham TopeFebruary 1974, aged 301
Owen Carron1983, aged 301 (did not take his seat)
Stanley Henig1970, aged 301
:Notes: :1 Defeated:2 Constituency abolished
Oldest general election victors
at first election
*George Walker, 1945: 70
*Samuel Young, 1892: 70
*Robert Cameron, 1895, 70
Piara Khabra, 1992: 701
Robert Hobart, 1906: 69
Ethel Bentham, 1929: 68
Andrew Gilzean, 1945: 67
Albert Stubbs, 1945: 67
Ernest Roberts, 1979: 67
*Richard Taylor, 2001: 66
John McQuade, 1979: 66
Caroline Ganley, 1945: 65
Mervyn Wheatley, 1945: 65
Mildred Gordon, 1987: 63
:1 Khabra's exact age has been the subject of some disagreement. He claimed a birth year of 1924, which would have made him 67 years old at first election, but his marriage certificate gives a birth year of 1921, and it is this figure which has been used above.
Robert Cardenwas 78 when he returned to the house, after a 21-year absence, as the member for Barnstaple. He had sat for Gloucester from 1857-59. Cahir Healywas 72 when he returned to the House of Commons, after a 15-year voluntary absence, as member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone. He had sat for the predecessor constituency between 1922-24 and 1931-35. Tommy Lewiswas 71 when he returned after a 14-year absence, as member for Southampton. He had sat previously for the seat between 1929-31. John Kinleywas 67 when he returned after a 14-year absence, as member for Bootle. He had sat previously for the seat between 1929-31.
at last election
Charles Pelham Villiers, Wolverhampton South, 1895: 93
*Samuel Young, East Cavan, 1910(D): 88
David Logan, Liverpool Scotland, 1959: 87
*Robert Cameron, Houghton-le-Spring, 1910(D): 85
Winston Churchill, Woodford, 1959: 84
S. O. Davies, Merthyr Tydfil, 1970: 83 2
Piara Khabra, Ealing Southall, 2005: 83
William Gladstone, Midlothian , 1892: 82
Manny Shinwell, Easington, 1966: 81
Joseph Warner Henley, Oxfordshire, 1874: about 81
Edward Heath, Old Bexley and Sidcup, 1997: 80
*John Mowbray, Oxford University, 1895: 80
*John Rankin, Glasgow Govan, 1970: 80
T. P. O'Connor, Liverpool Scotland, 1929: 80
James Patrick Mahon, Clare, 1880: 80
Murdoch Macdonald, Inverness, 1945: 79
Ian Paisley, Antrim North, 2005: 79 1
Irene Ward, Tynemouth, 1970: 75
Alice Cullen, Glasgow Gorbals, 1966: 75
Gwyneth Dunwoody, Crewe and Nantwich, 2005: 74
Eleanor Rathbone, Combined English Universities, 1945: 73
Caroline Ganley, Battersea South, 1950: 70
:1 Still an MP
as of 2007.:2 Davies was suspected of being considerably older than he claimed. There is evidence to suggest he was born in 1879, not 1886; if true, this would indicate he was 90 at his last election.
: Note: All men aged 79 or over since 1945 and over 85 since 1900 are listed, as are all women aged 70 or over.
First women general election victors
Constance Markiewicz, Dublin St Patrick's, 1918
Nancy Astor, Plymouth Sutton, 1922
Margaret Wintringham, Louth, 1922
First ethnic minority general election victors
First general election victors from specific religions
When the UK Parliament was established in 1801, non-Anglicans were prevented from taking their seats as MPs under the
Test Act 1672. However, Methodists took communion at Anglican churches until 1795, and some continued to do so, and many Presbyterians were prepared to accept Anglican communion, thus ensuring that members of these creeds were represented in the Parliament. [Chris Pond, [http://www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/notes/snpc-01493.pdf Parliament and Religious Disabilities] ] Some Unitarians were also elected.
Roman Catholicgeneral election victors in the UK Parliament were at the 1830 UK general election. They included Daniel O'Connelland James Patrick Mahonin Clare.
Quakergeneral election victor was Edward Pease, at the 1832 UK general election. Lionel de Rothschildwas the first Jewishgeneral election victor, at the 1847 UK general election. He was not permitted to take his seat.
The first declared
atheistto win a general election was Charles Bradlaughat the 1880 UK general election. He was not permitted to take his seat. Dadabhai Naorojiwas the first Parsi general election victor at the 1892 UK general election. Piara Khabrabecame the first Sikhgeneral election victor, at the 1992 UK general election.
Muslimgeneral election victor was Mohammed Sarwarat the 1997 UK general election.
General elections losers awarded seats on disqualification of winner
Two or more sitting MPs contest general election
It is of course common for former (defeated) MPs to seek re-election, often in their old constituencies, especially if they are marginal or bell-weather seats. What is quite unusual is for two MPs both sitting in the same parliament to seek re-election in the same seat. This usually occurs by reason of boundary changes or party splits.
*Dumfries and Galloway, 2005:
Russell Brown,* and Peter Duncan
*Bethnal Green and Bow, 2005:
Oona Kingand George Galloway*
*Brentwood and Ongar, 2001:
Eric Pickles* and Martin Bell
*Glasgow Garscadden, 1992:
Donald Dewar* and Dick Douglas
*South Hams, 1987:
Anthony Steen* and Willie Hamilton1
*Islington North, 1983: John Grant and Michael O'Halloran
*Southwark and Bermondsey, 1983:
Simon Hughes* and John Tilley
*Crosby, 1983: Shirley Williams and
*Glasgow Hillhead, 1983:
Roy Jenkins* and Neil Carmichael
*Bradford West, February 1974: John Wilkinson and
*Blyth, February 1974:
Eddie Milne* and Ivor Richard
*Plymouth Devonport, February 1974:
Joan Vickersand David Owen*
*Paddington, February 1974:
Arthur Latham* and Nicholas Scott
Joseph Godber* and Woodrow Wyatt
Ian Mikardo* and Frederick Bennett
*Bradford North, 1955:
William Taylor* and Maurice Webb
Rhys Hopkin Morris* and Lynn Ungoed-Thomas
*Renfrewshire West, 1950:
John Maclay* and Thomas Scollan
*Glasgow Kelvingrove, 1950: Walter Elliot* and
John Lloyd Williams
Peter Freeman* and Ivor Thomas
*Sudbury and Woodbridge, 1950:
John Hare* and Roland Hamilton
*Stafford and Stone, 1950:
Hugh Fraser* and Stephen Swingler
George Deer* and Sidney Shephard
Kenneth Pickthorn* and Florence Paton
Hugh Delargy* and Lesley Solley
*Walthamstow West, 1950:
Clement Attlee* and Lester Hutchinson
*Walsall, 1950: William Wells* and
Mervyn Wheatley* and Evelyn King
*Middlesbrough East, 1950:
Hilary Marquand* and Alfred Edwards
*Liverpool West Derby, 1950:
David Maxwell Fyfe* and Bertie Kirby
*Gateshead East, 1950:
Arthur Moody* and Konni Zilliacus
John Maude* and Thomas Horabin
*Blackburn West, 1950:
Ralph Assheton* and John Edwards
Walter Edwards* and Philip Piratin
*Shoreditch and Finsbury, 1950:
Ernest Thurtle* and John Platts-Mills
Notes: 1after announcing his retirement as member for Central Fife, long-serving Scottish Labour MP Willie Hamilton obtained his party's nomination in the hopeless prospect of South Hams in southern England. Hamilton insisted that he knew local parties often found themselves without candidates shortly before nominations closed, and was offering because it would help them out of difficulty; however by standing again and being "defeated" he qualified for an additional allowance.
Frequency and duration records
Longest period without a general election
The longest possible duration of a Parliament is currently five years. All period of six years or more between general elections are listed:
:10 years: 1935 - 1945:8 years: December 1910 - 1918:6 years: 1812 - 1818:6 years: 1820 - 1826:6 years: 1841 - 1847:6 years: 1859 - 1865:6 years: 1868 - 1874:6 years: 1874 - 1880:6 years: 1886 - 1892:6 years: 1900 - 1906
hortest period between general elections
All period of less than a year between general elections are listed:
:7 months: November 1806 - June 1807:7 months: November/December 1885 - July 1886:8 months: September 1830(?) - April/May/June 1831:8 months: February - October 1974:10 months: December 1923 - October 1924:11 months: January - December 1910
Longest period without a change in government
Currently, all British Parliamentary elections are invariably held on a Thursday. The last general election not held on a Thursday was the 1931 election, which was held on Tuesday
27 October. Prior to this, it was common to hold general elections on any day of the week (other than Sunday), and until the 1918 UK general election, they were held over a period of several weeks.
Causes of general elections
Loss of a vote of confidence
New Prime Minister seeks a mandate
Prime Minister seeks to gain/increase their majority
Prime Minister's choice of date
Parliament had run its course
End of World War
Incumbents fall directly from first place to fourth place
:1 UUP had been unopposed by DUP at previous elections.:2 SDP had been unopposed by the Liberals at previous elections.:3 The sitting Independent Labour Party MP had defected to Labour.
Incumbents fall directly from first place to third place
*Belfast South, 2005 Ulster Unionist loss, gained by the SDLP
*Conwy, 1997 Conservative loss, gained by Labour
*Aberdeen South, 1997 Conservative loss, gained by Labour
*Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, 1997, Liberal Democrat loss, gained by Labour
*Stockton South, 1983 1 Labour loss, gained by the SDP
*Plymouth Devonport, 1983 1 Labour loss, gained by the SDP
*Caithness and Sutherland, 1983 1 Labour loss, gained by the SDP
*Erith and Crayford, 1983 1 Labour loss, gained by the Conservatives
*Renfrew West and Inverclyde, 1983 1 Labour loss, gained by the Conservatives
*Southampton Itchen, 1983 1 Labour loss, gained by the Conservatives
*Clwyd South West, 1983 1 Labour loss, gained by the Conservatives
*West Hertfordshire, 1983 Labour loss, gained by the Conservatives
*Stevenage, 1983 Labour loss, gained by the Conservatives
*East Dunbartonshire, 1979 SNP loss, gained by Labour
*North Down, 1979 2 UUP loss, gained by Independent Unionist
*Mid Ulster, February 1974 Unity loss, gained by Vanguard Progressive Unionist
*Glasgow Bridgeton, 1950 3 ILP loss, gained by Labour
*Rugby, 1950 Independent loss, gained by Labour
*Hammersmith North, 1950 Independent Labour loss, gained by Labour
*Grantham, 1950 Independent loss, gained by the Conservatives
*Cheltenham, 1950 Independent loss, gained by the Conservatives
*Stepney, 1950 Communist loss, gained by Labour
*West Fife, 1950 Communist loss, gained by Labour
*Caithness and Sutherland, 1945 Liberal loss, gained by the Conservatives
:1 The sitting Labour MP had defected to the SDP in 1981.:2 The sitting Ulster Unionist Party MP had defected to sit as an Independent Unionist.:3 The sitting Independent Labour Party MP had defected to Labour.
Outgoing Government gains seats
When there is a decisive change in electoral sentiment, a tiny number of seats will not only buck the trend by not moving as expected, but may actually move in the opposite direction. Only elections that saw a change of government are listed, since it is fairly common for a few seats to move in divergent directions when an incumbent government is re-elected; 2005 was an exception to this case, when the Labour party scored no gains.
By-election losses regained
*Christchurch, from the Liberal Democrats
By-election losses regained
By-election losses regained
*South Dorset, from Labour
By-election losses regained
By-election losses regained
Colne Valley, from the Liberals
By-election losses regained
*Birmingham Ladywood, from the Liberals
*Swindon, from the Conservatives
*Oldham West, from the Conservatives
*Dudley, from the Conservatives
*Acton, from the Conservatives
*Hamilton, from the SNP
*Walthamstow West, from the Conservatives
*Glasgow Pollok, from the Conservatives
*Carmarthen, from Plaid Cymru
*Anglesey, from the Liberals
*Merioneth, from the Liberals
Incoming Government loses seats
*Berwick and East Lothian, February 1974 to the Conservatives
*East Dunbartonshire, February 1974 to the Conservatives
*Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire, February 1974 to the SNP
*Dundee East, February 1974 to the SNP
*Blyth, February 1974 to Independent Labour
*Lincoln, February 19741 to Lincoln Democratic Labour
*Cardigan, February 1974 to the Liberals
*Colne Valley, February 1974 to the Liberals
*Rochdale, February 19741 to the Liberals
*Birmingham Perry Barr, 1964 to the Conservatives
*Eton and Slough, 1964 to the Conservatives
*Smethwick, 1964 to the Conservatives
*South West Norfolk, 1964 to the Conservatives
*Carmarthen, 1945 to the Liberals
*Mile End, 1945 to the Communists
Notes: 1 by-election loss confirmed at the General Election
eats gained from fourth place
*Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, 1997 gained by Labour from the Liberal Democrats
*Ceredigion and Pembroke North, 1992 gained by Plaid Cymru from the Liberals
eats gained from third place
*Falmouth and Camborne, 2005 gained by the Liberal Democrats from Labour
*Leeds North West, 2005 gained by the Liberal Democrats from Labour
*Lagan Valley, 2005 gained by the DUP from the UUP 1
*West Tyrone, 2001 gained by Sinn Féin from the UUP
*Sittingbourne and Sheppey, 1997 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Shrewsbury and Atcham, 1997 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*St. Albans, 1997 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Oldham East and Saddleworth, 1997 gained by Labour from the Conservatives 2
*Leeds North West, 1997 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Hastings and Rye, 1997 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Falmouth and Camborne, 1997 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Conwy, 1997 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Bristol West, 1997 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Aberdeen South, 1997 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Mid Ulster, 1997 gained by Sinn Féin from the DUP
*Cambridge, 1992 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Plymouth Devonport, 1992 gained by Labour from the SDP
*Clwyd South West, 1987 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Edinburgh South, 1987 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Strathkelvin and Bearsden, 1987 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Renfrew West and Inverclyde, 1987 gained by Labour from the Conservatives
*Colne Valley, 1983 gained by the Liberals from Labour
*Leeds West, 1983 gained by the Liberals from Labour
*Southwark and Bermondsey, 1983 gained by the Liberals from Labour 3
*Liverpool Mossley Hill, 1983 gained by the Liberals from the Conservatives
*Ross, Cromarty and Skye, 1983 gained by the SDP from the Conservatives 4
*East Dunbartonshire, 1979 gained by Labour from the SNP
*Lincoln, 1979 gained by the Conservatives from Labour
*East Dunbartonshire, October 1974 gained by the SNP from the Conservatives
*Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire, February 1974 gained by the SNP from Labour
*Isle of Wight, February 1974 gained by the Liberals from the Conservatives
*Ross and Cromarty, 1970 gained by the Conservatives from the Liberals
*Ross and Cromarty, 1964 gained by the Liberals from the National Liberals
:Notes::1 sitting member had defected from UUP to DUP:2 Liberal Democrats had won a by-election in predecessor constituency in which Labour finished second:3 by-election gain confirmed at General Election.:4 SDP candidate ran for the Alliance in seat with strong Liberal tradition.
General election victors had not contested previous election
*Blaenau Gwent, 2005: Independent
*Bethnal Green and Bow, 2005: Respect,
*Wyre Forest, 2001: IKHH, Richard Taylor
*North Down, 19973: UKUP, Robert McCartney
*Tatton, 1997: Independent
*Caithness and Sutherland, 1983: SDP,
*Belfast West, 1983: Sinn Féin,
*Mid Ulster, 1983: Democratic Unionist, William McCrea
*Belfast East, 1979: Democratic Unionist,
*Belfast South, 1979:1 Ulster Unionist,
*Mid Ulster, 1979:2 United Ulster Unionist,
*Lincoln, February 19743: Democratic Labour, Dick Taverne
*North Antrim, February 19744: DUP,
*Belfast West, February 19745: SDLP,
*Belfast East, February 1974: Vanguard,
*Belfast South, February 1974: Vanguard,
*Mid Ulster, February 1974: Vanguard,
*North Antrim, 1970: PUP,
*Mid Ulster, 1970: Unity,
*North Antrim, 1970: PUP,
*Western Isles, 1970: SNP,
*1 Vanguard broke up in the late 1970s; the sitting MP joined the Ulster Unionists.
*2 Vanguard broke up in the late 1970s; the sitting MP joined the United Ulster Unionists.
*3 By-election gain confirmed at the General Election.
*4 The Protestant Unionist Party merged into the Democratic Unionist Party in 1970.
*5 Sitting MP Gerry Fitt had left the
Republican Labour Partyfor the SDLP in 1970; by 1974 Republican Labour had disintegrated.
Incumbent party did not contest
*1997: North Down, sole UPUP MP had died and party had subsequently collapsed.
*1983: Mid Ulster, UUUP had dissolved and former MP stood down.
*1959: Caithness and Sutherland, Conservatives stood aside for Independent Conservative David Robertson.
*1950: Chelmsford, Common Wealth MP had defected to Labour and party decided not to contest any further elections.
*1950: Glasgow Camlachie, ILP did not contest as their MP had defected to Labour, then the ILP had performed badly in the 1948 by-election.
Major party did not run
*Glasgow North East, 20051
*Glasgow Springburn, 20011
*West Bromwich West, 19971
*Croydon North East, 19871
*Cardiff West, 19791
*Wirral, October 19741
*Wirral, February 19741
*Colne Valley, 1951
*Glasgow North East, 20051
*Wyre Forest, 2005
*Glasgow Springburn, 20011
*Wyre Forest, 2001
*West Bromwich West, 19971
*Birmingham Handsworth, 1979
*Cardiff West, 19791
*Dudley West, 1979
*Salford East, 1979
:1: An occasion where a major party stood aside against the
Speaker of the British House of Commons.
Victories by minor parties
Victories by independent and minor party candidates since 1945. For a complete list, see the
list of UK minor party and independent MPs elected.
*Blaenau Gwent, 2005
*Bethnal Green and Bow, 2005
*Wyre Forest, 2005
*Wyre Forest, 2001
*Lincoln, February 1974
*Blyth, February 1974
*Merthyr Tydfil, 1970
Minor parties other strong performance
*Brighton Pavilion, 2005: Green
Miscellaneous notable results
Party Leaders or Deputy Leaders losing their seats
*Upper Bann, 2005:
David Trimble, Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
*North Down, 2001: Robert McCartney, Leader of the
UK Unionist Party
*Belfast West, 1992:
Gerry Adams, Leader of Sinn Féin
*Dundee East, 1987: Gordon Wilson, Leader of the Scottish National Party
*Cornwall North, 1979:
John Pardoe, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party
*Fermanagh and South Tyrone, October 1974:
Harry West, Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party
*Belper, 1970: George Brown, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
*Huddersfield West, 1964:
Donald Wade, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party
Megan Lloyd George, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party
*Caithness and Sutherland, 1945: Sir
Archibald Sinclair, Leader of the Liberal Party
*Edinburgh Leith, 1945:
Ernest Brown, Leader of the Liberal National Party
*Darwen, 1935: Sir
Herbert Samuel, Leader of the Liberal Party
Ramsay MacDonald, Leader of the National Labour Party
Arthur Henderson, Leader of the Labour Party
*Manchester Platting, 1931:
John Robert Clynes, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
H. H. Asquith, Leader of the Liberal Party
*East Fife, 1918:
H. H. Asquith, Leader of the Liberal Party
*Manchester East, 1906:
Arthur Balfour, Leader of the Conservative Party
General elections having historic significance
*1997: Blair, New Labour
*1979: Thatcher, end of the post-war consensus
*1945: Labour, Welfare State
*1931: National Government presides over the Great Depression and Appeasement
*1923: First Labour government emerges
*1910 (two Liberal general election victories) Establishment of supremacy of the Commons. The
*1906: Liberal landslide
United Kingdom by-election records
Records of members of parliament of the United Kingdom
List of United Kingdom MPs with the shortest service
United Kingdom general elections
* 'Who's Who of British MPs: Volume IV, 1945-1979' by Michael Stenton and Stephen Lees (Harvester, Brighton, 1979) ISBN 0-85527-335-6
* 'British Parliamentary Constituencies - A Statistical Compendium' by
Ivor Creweand Anthony Fox (Faber and Faber, London, 1984) ISBN 0-571-13236-7
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