United Kingdom general election, 1997


United Kingdom general election, 1997

Infobox Election
election_name = United Kingdom general election, 1997
country = United Kingdom
type = parliamentary
ongoing = no
previous_election = United Kingdom general election, 1992
previous_year = 1992
previous_mps = MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1992
next_election = United Kingdom general election, 2001
next_year = 2001
next_mps = MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 2001
seats_for_election = All 659 seats to the House of Commons
election_date = 1 May 1997



leader1 = Tony Blair
leader_since1 = 21 July 1994
party1 = Labour Party (UK)
leaders_seat1 = Sedgefield
last_election1 = 271 seats, 34.4%
seats1 = 418
seat_change1 = +147
popular_vote1 = 13,518,167
percentage1 = 43.2%
swing1 = +8.8%



leader2 = John Major
leader_since2 = 28 November 1990
party2 = Conservative Party (UK)
leaders_seat2 = Huntingdon
last_election2 = 336 seats, 41.6%
seats2 = 165
seat_change2 = -171
popular_vote2 = 9,600,943
percentage2 = 30.7%
swing2 = -10.9%



leader3 = Paddy Ashdown
leader_since3 = 16 July 1988
party3 = Liberal Democrats (UK)
leaders_seat3 = Yeovil
last_election3 = 20 seats, 17.8%
seats3 = 46
seat_change3 = +26
popular_vote3 = 5,242,947
percentage3 = 16.8%
swing3 = -1%
title = PM
before_election = John Major
before_party = Conservative Party (UK)
after_election = Tony Blair
after_party = Labour Party (UK)

The UK general election, 1997 was held on 1 May 1997. The Labour Party won the general election in a landslide victory with 418 seats, the most seats the party has ever held. The Conservatives ended up with 165 seats, the fewest seats they have held since the 1906 General Election, and with no MPs for seats in Scotland and Wales. This marked the beginning of what has become the longest spell in opposition for the Conservative Party since the 19th century, as well as the longest spell in government ever for the Labour Party.

Results

The election was fought under new boundaries, with a net increase of eight seats compared to the 1992 election. Changes listed here are from the notional 1992, result had it been fought on the boundaries established in 1997. These notional results were used by all media organisations at the time.

Election Summary Party with Candidates
party =Labour Party (UK)
candidates = 639
seats = 418
gain = 147
loss = 0
net = + 147
votes = 13,518,167
votes % = 43.2
seats % = 63.4
plus/minus = + 8.8
government = yes
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Conservative Party (UK)
candidates = 648
seats = 165
gain = 0
loss = 178
net = - 178
votes = 9,600,943
votes % = 30.7
seats % = 25.0
plus/minus = - 11.2
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Liberal Democrats (UK)
candidates = 639
seats = 46
gain = 30
loss = 2
net = + 28
votes = 5,242,947
votes % = 16.8
seats % = 7.0
plus/minus = - 1.0
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Referendum Party
candidates = 547
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 811,849
votes % = 2.6
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Scottish National Party
candidates = 72
seats = 6
gain = 3
loss = 0
net = + 3
votes = 621,550
votes % = 2.0
seats % = 0.9
plus/minus = + 0.1
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Ulster Unionist Party
candidates = 16
seats = 10
gain = 1
loss = 0
net = +1
votes = 258,349
votes % = 0.8
seats % = 1.5
plus/minus = 0.0
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Social Democratic and Labour Party
candidates = 18
seats = 3
gain = 0
loss = 1
net = - 1
votes = 190,814
votes % = 0.6
seats % = 0.5
plus/minus = + 0.1
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Plaid Cymru
candidates = 40
seats = 4
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 161,030
votes % = 0.5
seats % = 0.6
plus/minus = 0.0
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Sinn Féin
candidates = 17
seats = 2
gain = 2
loss = 0
net = + 2
votes = 126,921
votes % = 0.4
seats % = 0.3
plus/minus = 0.0
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Democratic Unionist Party
candidates = 9
seats = 2
gain = 0
loss = 1
net = - 1
votes = 107,348
votes % = 0.3
seats % = 0.3
plus/minus = 0.0
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = United Kingdom Independence Party
candidates = 193
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 105,722
votes % = 0.3
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Independent (politician)
candidates = 25
seats = 1
gain = 1
loss = 0
net = + 1
votes = 64,482
votes % = 0.1
seats % = 0.2
plus/minus = 0.0
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Green Party of England and Wales
candidates = 89
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 61,731
votes % = 0.3
seats % =
plus/minus = - 0.2
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
candidates = 17
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 62,972
votes % = 0.2
seats % =
plus/minus = 0.0
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Socialist Labour Party (UK)
candidates = 64
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 52,109
votes % = 0.2
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Liberal Party (UK, 1989)
candidates = 49
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 45,166
votes % = 0.1
seats % =
plus/minus = - 0.1
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = British National Party
candidates = 55
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 35,832
votes % = 0.1
seats % =
plus/minus = 0.0
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Natural Law Party
candidates = 197
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 30,604
votes % = 0.1
seats % =
plus/minus = - 0.1
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Speaker of the British House of Commons
candidates = 1
seats = 1
gain = 1
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 23,969
votes % = 0.1
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Prolife Alliance
candidates = 56
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 19,332
votes % = 0.1
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = UK Unionist Party
candidates = 1
seats = 1
gain = 1
loss = 0
net = + 1
votes = 12,817
votes % = 0.0
seats % = 0.2
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Progressive Unionist Party
candidates = 3
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 10,928
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = National Democrats (UK)
candidates = 21
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 10,829
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Socialist Party (England and Wales)
candidates =
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 9,906
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Scottish Socialist Alliance
candidates =
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 9,740
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Independent Labour
candidates = 4
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 9,233
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = - 0.1
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Independent Conservative
candidates = 4
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 8,608
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = - 0.1
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Official Monster Raving Loony Party
candidates = 24
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 7,906
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = - 0.1
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Vote For Yourself Rainbow Dream Ticket
candidates = 29
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 3,745
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Northern Ireland Women's Coalition
candidates = 3
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 3,024
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Workers Party (Ireland)
candidates =
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 2,766
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = - 0.1
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = National Front (UK)
candidates = 6
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 2,716
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Legalise Cannabis Alliance
candidates = 5
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 2,085
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary with Candidates
party = People's Labour
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,995
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Mebyon Kernow
candidates = 4
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,906
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Scottish Green Party
candidates = 5
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,721
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary with Candidates
party = Conservative Anti-Euro
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,434
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Socialist Party of Great Britain
candidates =
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,359
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary with Candidates
party = Community Representative
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,290
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary with Candidates
party = Residents Association
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,263
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Social Democratic Party (UK, 1990)
candidates = 2
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,246
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = - 0.1
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Workers Revolutionary Party (UK)
candidates = 8
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,178
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary with Candidates
party = Real Labour
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 1,117
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus = "N/A"
Election Summary with Candidates
party = Independent Democratic
candidates =
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 982
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary with Candidates
party = Independent Liberal Democrat
candidates =
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 890
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Communist Party of Britain
candidates = 3
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 639
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary with Candidates
party = Independent Green
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 593
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Green Party of Northern Ireland
candidates = 1
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 539
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =
Election Summary Party with Candidates
party = Socialist Equality Party (UK)
candidates = 3
seats = 0
gain = 0
loss = 0
net = 0
votes = 505
votes % = 0.0
seats % =
plus/minus =

( % of seats won )

bar box
title=% of seats won
titlebar=#ddd
width=300px
bars=

"Total votes cast: 31,286,284. All parties with more than 500 votes shown. Labour total includes New Labour and "Labour Time for Change" candidates; Conservative total includes candidates in Northern Ireland (excluded in some lists) and "Loyal Conservative" candidate.

Turnout: 71.2%

The Popular Unionist MP elected in 1992 died in 1995 and the party folded shortly afterwards.

There was no incumbent Speaker in the 1992 election."

The Campaign

Prime Minister John Major obtained a dissolution on Monday 17 March 1997 - so ensuring the formal campaign would be unusually long, at six weeks. It was stated at the time by Conservatives that a long campaign would expose Labour and allow the Conservative message to be heard. In fact the Conservative campaign was quickly blown off course when Major was accused of arranging an early dissolution to protect Neil Hamilton from a pending parliamentary report into his conduct: a report that Major had earlier guaranteed would be published before an election. Labour also had their difficulties - in particular an argument about whether or not the party would privatise the air traffic control system, and over the party's relationship with the trade unions.

By the middle of the campaign, the large number of Conservative candidates - including some serving ministers - who publicly repudiated the government policy on the European single currency had become a key issue. Labour were themselves cautious about this issue, but gained heavily from the symbolism of a deeply divided Conservative party.

In the final stages of the campaign, Labour concentrated heavily on projecting an image of Tony Blair as a dynamic and energetic young leader while the Conservatives were seen to indulge in infighting - with the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke describing the views of the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, on Europe as "paranoid nonsense".

Overall picture and background

Labour won a landslide victory with their largest parliamentary majority (179) to date, Professor Anthony King describing the election as being like "an asteroid hitting the planet and destroying practically all life on earth". The Liberal Democrat vote fell, but in terms of seats, it was their best General Election since 1929 under David Lloyd George's leadership. The election was a heavy defeat for the Conservative Party, with the party having its lowest percentage share of the popular vote since 1832 under the Duke of Wellington's leadership, being wiped out in Scotland and Wales. Several prominent members of the party also lost their seats, including:

*Michael Portillo - Secretary of State for Defence
*Malcolm Rifkind - Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
*Ian Lang - Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
*Michael Forsyth - Secretary of State for Scotland
*William Waldegrave - Chief Secretary to the Treasury
*Nicholas Budgen - Leading Backbencher who rebelled against the Maastricht treaty
*Edwina Currie - Former Health Minister turned author and Radio and television presenter
*Angela Rumbold - Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party
*Rhodes Boyson - Leading Backbencher
*John Bowis - Health Minister
*Iain Sproat - Trade Minister
*Robin Squire - Education Minister
*Andrew Mitchell - Social Security Minister
*Tom Sackville - Home Office Minister
*Nicholas Bonsor - Foreign Minister
*Neil Hamilton - Chairman of the Monday club
*Gyles Brandreth - Whip and former media personality
*Sebastian Coe - Former Olympic gold medalist
*Phillip Oppenheim - Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
*Tony Newton - Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
*Roger Freeman - Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
*Marcus Fox - chairman of the 1922 committee
*Norman Lamont - Former Chancellor of the Exchequer and prominent Eurosceptic
*David Mellor - Former Secretary of State for National Heritage

The poor results for the Conservative Party led to infighting, with the One Nation, Tory Reform Group, and right wing Maastricht rebels blaming each other for the defeat. Party Chairman Brian Mawhinney said on the night of the election, that it was due to disillusionment with 18 years of Conservative rule. John Major resigned as party leader, saying "When the curtain falls, it is time to leave the stage".

Labour's victory was largely credited to the charisma of Tony Blair and a slick Labour public relations machine managed by Alastair Campbell. Between the 1992 election and the 1997 election there had also been major steps to modernise the party, including scrapping Clause IV that had committed the party to extending public ownership of Industry. Famously, in the early hours of 2 May 1997 a party was held at the Royal Festival Hall, in which Blair stated triumphantly "A new dawn has broken, has it not?".

The Referendum Party, which sought a referendum on Britain's relationship with the European Union, came fourth in terms of votes with 800,000 votes mainly from former Conservative voters, but won no seats in parliament. The six parties with the next highest votes stood only in either Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales; in order, they were the Scottish National Party, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Féin, and the Democratic Unionist Party.

In the previously safe seat of Tatton, where incumbent Conservative MP Neil Hamilton was facing charges of having taken cash for questions, the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties decided not to field candidates in order that an Independent candidate, Martin Bell would have a better chance of winning the seat, which he duly did with a comfortable margin.

The result declared for the constituency of Winchester showed a margin of victory of just 2 votes for the Liberal Democrats. The defeated Conservative candidate mounted a successful legal challenge to the result on the grounds that errors by election officials (failures to stamp certain votes) had changed the result, the court ruled the result invalid and ordered a by-election on 20 November which was won by the Liberal Democrats with a much larger majority, causing much recrimination in the Conservative Party about the decision to challenge the original result in the first place.

ee also

*MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1997.

Manifestos

*New Labour, New Life For Britain [http://www.psr.keele.ac.uk/area/uk/man/lab97.htm]
* [http://www.psr.keele.ac.uk/area/uk/man/con97.htm Conservative (You can only be sure with the Conservatives)]
* [http://www.psr.keele.ac.uk/area/uk/e97/man/ld97man.htm Liberal Democrats (Make the Difference)]

External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/election97/frameset.htm BBC Election Website]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdKexAVIUY4 Video of the iconic moment at which Conservative Michael Portillo lost his seat to Labour's Stephen Twigg]
* [http://www.psr.keele.ac.uk/area/uk/man/man97.htm 1997 election manifestos] - Link to 1997 election manifestos of various parties.
* [http://archives.lse.ac.uk/dserve.exe?dsqServer=lib-4.lse.ac.uk&dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqDb=Catalog&dsqCmd=Overview.tcl&dsqSearch=((RefNo='general')AND(RefNo='election')AND(RefNo='1997')) Catalogue of 1997 general election ephemera] at the [http://www.lse.ac.uk/library/archive/Default.htm Archives Division] of the London School of Economics.


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