All 615 seats in the House of Commons
308 seats needed for a majority
Colours denote the winning party—as shown in § Results
Composition of the House of Commons after the 1931 General Election
The 1931 United Kingdom general election was held on Tuesday 27 October 1931 and saw a landslide election victory for the National Government which had been formed two months previously after the collapse of the second Labour government. Collectively, the parties forming the National Government won 67% of the votes and 554 seats out of 615. The bulk of the National Government's support came from the Conservative Party, and the Conservatives won 470 seats. The Labour Party suffered its greatest defeat, losing four out of every five seats compared with the previous election. The Liberal Party, split into three factions, continued to shrink and the Liberal National faction never reunited. Ivor Bulmer-Thomas said the results "were the most astonishing in the history of the British party system".It is the most recent election in which one party (the Conservatives) received an absolute majority of the votes cast (despite over 97% of the votes being cast for either a party or alliance led by a leader or recent ex-leader of the Labour Party), and the last UK general election not to take place on a Thursday. It would be the last election until 1997 in which a party won over 400 seats in the House of Commons.
After battling with the Great Depression for two years, the Labour government of Ramsay MacDonald had faced with a budget crisis in August 1931. The cabinet deadlocked over its response, with several influential members, such as Arthur Henderson, unwilling to support the budget cuts (in particular a cut in the rate of unemployment benefit) which were pressed by the civil service and opposition parties. Then, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Snowden refused to consider deficit spending or tariffs as alternative solutions.
When the government resigned, MacDonald was encouraged by King George V to form an all-party National Government to deal with the immediate crisis.
The initial hope that the government would hold office for a few weeks, and then dissolve to return to ordinary party politics, were frustrated when the government was forced to remove the pound sterling from the gold standard; meanwhile the Labour Party expelled all those who were supporting the government.
The Conservatives began pressing for the National Government to fight an election as a combined unit, and MacDonald's supporters from the Labour Party formed a National Labour Organisation to support him; MacDonald came to endorse an early election to take advantage of Labour's unpopularity. However the Liberals were sceptical about an election and had to be persuaded. Former Liberal leader David Lloyd George firmly opposed the decision to call an election and urged his colleagues to withdraw from the National Government.
A main issue was the Conservatives' wish to introduce protectionist trade policies. This issue not only divided the government from the opposition but also divided the parties in the National Government: the majority of Liberals, led by Sir Herbert Samuel, were opposed and supported free trade, but on the eve of the election a faction known as Liberal Nationals under the leadership of Sir John Simon was formed who were willing to support protectionist trade policies.
In order to preserve the Liberals within the National Government, the government itself did not endorse a policy but appealed for a "Doctor's Mandate" to do whatever was necessary to rescue the economy. Individual Conservative candidates supported protective tariff.
Labour campaigned on opposition to public spending cuts, but found it difficult to defend the record of the party's former government and the fact that most of the cuts had been agreed before it fell.
Historian Andrew Thorpe argues that Labour lost credibility by 1931 as unemployment soared, especially in coal, textiles, shipbuilding and steel. The working class increasingly lost confidence in the ability of Labour to solve the most pressing problem.
The 2.5 million Irish Catholics in England and Scotland were a major factor in the Labour base in many industrial areas. The Catholic Church had previously tolerated the Labour Party, and denied that it represented true socialism. However, the bishops by 1930 had grown increasingly alarmed at Labour's policies towards Communist Russia, towards birth control and especially towards funding Catholic schools. They warned its members. The Catholic shift against Labour and in favour of the National Government played a major role in Labour's losses.
The mainstream Labour vote fell sharply; the 20 seats contested by National Labour however saw 13 wins. The National Government promised came about. This was as to 470 of its 518 seats through Tories, 518 being a landslide or super-majority for safety, denoting no high taxation, large deficits, superinflation nor great currency devaluation but also for a government of national unity, all talents and spreading of state investments and relief measures nationwide to tackle the poverty and downturn of the Great Depression.
Most Government MPs were under the leadership of Stanley Baldwin but MacDonald (Nat. Lab.) remained Prime Minister in the new National Government.
The main group of Liberals lacked the funds to contest all viable seats yet won almost as many as the Labour Party. More MPs (72) were elected under a Liberal ticket (ballot description) of some type than the tally of Labour and National Labour MPs (65), but the three-way split in their party meant that the main Labour group would be the second-largest in the Commons.
|Party||Leader||Stood||Elected||Gained||Unseated||Net||% of total||%||No.||Net %|
|Liberal National||John Simon||41||35||35||0||+35||5.7||3.7||761,705||N/A|
|National Labour||Ramsay MacDonald||20||13||13||0||+13||2.1||1.5||316,741||N/A|
|National Government (total)||Ramsay MacDonald||694||554||+236||90.1||67.2||13,902,232||+5.5|
|Ind. Labour Party||Fenner Brockway||19||3||3||0||+3||0.5||1.2||239,280||N/A|
|Other unendorsed Labour||N/A||6||3||3||1||+2||0.5||0.3||64,549||N/A|
|NI Labour||Jack Beattie||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||0.0||9,410||N/A|
|Labour (total)||Arthur Henderson||516||52||−235||8.5||30.6||6,395,065||−6.5|
|Other opposition parties|
|Independent Liberals||David Lloyd George||6||4||4||0||+4||0.7||0.5||106,106||N/A|
|New Party||Oswald Mosley||24||0||0||0||0||0||0.2||36,377||N/A|
|National (Scotland)||Roland Muirhead||5||0||0||0||0||0||0.1||20,954||+0.1|
|Scottish Prohibition||Edwin Scrymgeour||1||0||0||1||−1||0||0.1||16,114||0.0|
|Liverpool Protestant||H. D. Longbottom||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.0||7,834||N/A|
|Agricultural Party||J. F. Wright||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.0||6,993||N/A|
|Plaid Cymru||Saunders Lewis||2||0||0||0||0||0||0.0||2,050||0.0|
This differs from the above list in including seats where the incumbent was standing down and therefore there was no possibility of any one person being defeated. The aim is to provide a comparison with the previous election. In addition, it provides information about which party gained the seat.
|Ind. Labour Party||Labour||4||Merthyr*, Shettleston*, Bridgeton*, Gorbals*|
|Independent Labour gains:||4|
|Liberal||Labour||16||Dundee (one of two), Paisley, Edinburgh East, South Shields, Durham, Bristol North, Leicester West, Lambeth North, Whitechapel and St Georges, Walsall, Middlesbrough East, Bradford South, Dewsbury, Colne Valley 2, Wrexham, Carmarthen|
|National Labour||Labour||13||Kilmarnock*, Ilkeston, Derby (one of two)*, Seaham*, Forest of Dean, Ormskirk*, Finsbury*, Tottenham South, Bassetlaw*, Nottingham South*, Lichfield*, Leeds Central*, Cardiff C*|
|Liberal National||11||Dunfermline Burghs, Bishop Auckland, Consett, Gateshead, Southampton (one of two), Burnley, Shoreditch, Southwark North, Huddersfield, Barnsley, Swansea West|
|Liberal||26||Inverness*, Ross and Cromarty*, Western Isles*, Montrose Burghs*, Fife East*, Greenock*, Leith*, Dumfriesshire*, Luton*, Huntingdonshire*, Eddisbury*, St Ives*, Devonport*, South Molton*, Harwich*, Bosworth*, Holland with Boston*, Great Yarmouth*, Norfolk East*, Norwich (one of two)*, Newcastle upon Tyne East*, Eye*, Spen Valley*, Denbigh*, Flintshire*, Montgomeryshire*|
|National Liberal gains:||37|
|National||2||Southwark Central, Burslem|
|Conservative||Scottish Prohibition||1||Dundee (one of two)|
|Labour||194||Aberdeen N, Stirling and Falkirk, Clackmannan and E Stirlingshire, Stirlingshire W, Fife W, Kirkcaldy Burghs, Dunbartonshire, Lanark, Partick, Lanarkshire N, Renfrewshire W, Maryhill, Motherwell, Camlachie, Bothwell, Coatbridge, Springburn, Rutherglen, Tradeston, Ayrshire S, Edinburgh W, Edinburgh C, Midlothian S & Peebles, Linlithgow, Berwick & Haddington, Reading, Birkenhead W, Crewe, Stalybridge and Hyde, Stockport (one of two), Carlisle, Whitehaven, Derbyshire NE, Chesterfield, Derby (one of two), Belper, Derbyshire S, Drake, Blaydon, Houghton-le-Spring, Jarrow, Barnard Castle, Sedgefield, Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees, Sunderland (one of two), Sunderland (one of two)†, Leyton E, East Ham N, East Ham S, Essex SE, Leyton W, Romford, Walthamstow E, Upton, Bristol C, Bristol S, Portsmouth C, Southampton (one of two), Dudley, Stourbridge, Kingston upon Hull C, Kingston upon Hull E, Kingston upon Hull SW, Chatham 2, Dartford, Accrington, Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn (both seats), Nelson and Colne, Preston (one of two), Rossendale, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bolton (both seats), Eccles, Farnworth, Ardwick, Clayton, Gorton, Hulme, Platting, Oldham (both seats), Rochdale, Salford N, Salford S, Salford W, Bootle, Edge Hill, Everton, Kirkdale, W Toxteth, Newton, St Helens, Warrington, Widnes, Leicester E, Loughborough, Brigg, Lincoln, Battersea N, Battersea S, Camberwell N, Camberwell NW, Deptford, Greenwich, Hackney C, Hackney S, Hammersmith N, Hammersmith S, Islington E, Islington N, Islington S, Islington W, Kennington, Kensington N, Peckham, Rotherhithe, St Pancras N, St Pancras SE, St Pancras SW, Fulham W†, Southwark SE, Mile End, Wandsworth C 2, Acton, Enfield, Willesden W, Edmonton, Tottenham N, Norfolk N, Norfolk SW, Norwich (one of two), Kettering, Northampton, Peterborough, Wellingborough, Morpeth, Newcastle C, Newcastle W, Wallsend, Wansbeck, Nottingham W, The Wrekin, Frome, Cannock, Hanley, Kingswinford, Leek, Smethwick 1, Stoke 1, Wednesbury, W Bromwich, Bilston, Wolverhampton W 4, Nuneaton, Duddeston, Coventry, Aston 1, Deritend, Erdington, Ladywood, Yardley, Swindon, York, Cleveland, Sheffield C, Bradford N, Sowerby, Elland, Leeds W, Halifax, Bradford E, Shipley†, Wakefield, Sheffield Park, Rotherham, Bradford C, Keighley, Pontefract, Hillsborough, Attercliffe, Brightside, Penistone, Leeds S, Doncaster, Batley and Morley, Newport, Brecon and Radnor, Llandaff & Barry, Cardiff E, Cardiff S|
|Liberal||13||Aberdeenshire W & Kincardine, Galloway 1, Bedfordshire Mid, Camborne, Penryn & Falmouth, Dorset E, Hereford, Ashford, Preston (one of two)3, Heywood & Radcliffe, Blackley, Withington, Nottingham E|
These are available at the PoliticsResources website, a link to which is given below.
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade-supporting Peelites and the reformist Radicals in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.
The 1983 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 9 June 1983. It gave the Conservative Party under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher the most decisive election victory since that of the Labour Party in 1945, with a landslide majority of 144 seats.
The February 1974 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday, 28 February 1974. The Labour Party, led by Leader of the Opposition and former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, gained 14 seats, but was seventeen short of an overall majority. The Conservative Party, led by incumbent Prime Minister Edward Heath, lost 28 seats; but achieved a higher share of the vote than Labour. This resulted in a hung parliament, the first since 1929. Heath resigned when he refused to a key term of a possible coalition, and Wilson became Prime Minister for a second time, his first under a minority government. Because Labour was unable to form a majority coalition with another party, Wilson called another early election in September, which was held in October and resulted in a Labour majority. This was also the first general election to be held with the United Kingdom as a member state of the European Communities (EC) — widely known as the "Common Market".
The 1959 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday, 8 October 1959. It marked a third consecutive victory for the ruling Conservative Party, now led by Harold Macmillan. For the second time in a row, the Conservatives increased their overall majority in Parliament, this time to 100 seats, having gained 20 seats for a return of 365. The Labour Party, led by Hugh Gaitskell, lost 19 seats and returned 258. The Liberal Party, led by Jo Grimond, again returned only six MPs to the House of Commons, but managed to increase its overall share of the vote to 5.9%, compared to just 2.7% four years earlier.
The 1935 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 14 November 1935 and resulted in a large, albeit reduced, majority for the National Government now led by Stanley Baldwin of the Conservative Party. The greatest number of members, as before, were Conservatives, while the National Liberal vote held steady. The much smaller National Labour vote also held steady but the resurge in the main Labour vote caused over a third of their MPs, including National Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald, to lose their seats.
The National Labour Organisation, also known as the National Labour Committee or simply as National Labour, was a British political group formed after the 1931 creation of the National Government to co-ordinate the efforts of the supporters of the government who had come from the Labour Party. The party leaders were Ramsay MacDonald (1931–1937) and Malcolm MacDonald (1937–1945).
The 1929 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 30 May 1929 and resulted in a hung parliament. It stands as the fourth of six instances under the secret ballot, and the first of three under universal suffrage, in which a party has lost on the popular vote but won the highest number of seats versus all other parties – others are 1874, January 1910, December 1910, 1951 and February 1974. In 1929, Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Party won the most seats in the House of Commons for the first time. The Liberal Party re-led by ex-Prime Minister David Lloyd George regained some ground lost in the 1924 election and held the balance of power.
The 1924 United Kingdom general election was held on Wednesday 29 October 1924, as a result of the defeat of the Labour minority government, led by Ramsay MacDonald, in the House of Commons on a motion of no confidence. It was the third general election to be held in less than two years.
The 1923 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 6 December 1923. The Conservatives, led by Stanley Baldwin, won the most seats, but Labour, led by Ramsay MacDonald, and H. H. Asquith's reunited Liberal Party gained enough seats to produce a hung parliament. It is the most recent UK general election in which a third party won over 100 seats. The Liberals' percentage of the vote, 29.7%, has not been exceeded by a third party at any general election since.
The 1922 United Kingdom general election was held on Wednesday 15 November 1922. It was won by the Conservatives led by Andrew Bonar Law, who gained an overall majority over Labour, led by J. R. Clynes, and a divided Liberal Party.
The 1918 United Kingdom general election was called immediately after the Armistice with Germany which ended the First World War, and was held on Saturday, 14 December 1918. The governing coalition, under Prime Minister David Lloyd George, sent letters of endorsement to candidates who supported the coalition government. These were nicknamed "Coalition Coupons", and led to the election being known as the "coupon election". The result was a massive landslide in favour of the coalition, comprising primarily the Conservatives and Coalition Liberals, with massive losses for Liberals who were not endorsed. Nearly all the Liberal MPs without coupons were defeated, although party leader H. H. Asquith managed to return to Parliament in a by-election.
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At the 1931 general election, a small group of official Liberal candidates led by former Liberal Party leader, David Lloyd George, and mostly related to him, stood on a platform of opposition to the National Government and were sometimes referred to as Independent Liberals.
The National Government of August–October 1931, also known as the First National Government was the first of a series of national governments formed during the Great Depression in the United Kingdom. It was formed by Ramsay MacDonald as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom following the collapse of the previous minority government, led by the Labour Party, known as the Second MacDonald ministry.
The Kilmarnock by-election, 1929 was a by-election held on 27 September 1929 for the British House of Commons constituency of Kilmarnock in Ayrshire.
The Holland with Boston by-election, 1937 was a parliamentary by-election held on 24 June 1937 for the British House of Commons constituency of Holland with Boston.
Richard John Russell was a British dental surgeon and Liberal later Liberal National politician.
The National Government of 1931–1935 was formed by Ramsay MacDonald following his reappointment as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom by King George V after the general election in October 1931.
The National Liberal Party, known until 1948 as the Liberal National Party, was a liberal political party in the United Kingdom from 1931 to 1968. It broke away from the Liberal Party, and later co-operated and merged with the Conservative Party.