1950 United Kingdom general election

Last updated

1950 United Kingdom general election
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
  1945 23 February 1950 1951  

All 625 seats in the House of Commons
313 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout83.9% Increase2.svg11.1%
 First partySecond partyThird party
  Clement Attlee.jpg Sir Winston Churchill - 19086236948 (cropped2).jpg Clement Davies.jpg
Leader Clement Attlee Winston Churchill Clement Davies
Party Labour Conservative Liberal
Leader since 25 October 1935 9 October 19402 August 1945
Leader's seat Walthamstow West Woodford Montgomeryshire
Last election393 seats, 47.7%208 seats, 39.1% [lower-alpha 1] 12 seats, 9.0%
Seats won3152989
Seat changeDecrease2.svg78Increase2.svg90Decrease2.svg3
Popular vote13,226,17612,494,4042,621,487
Percentage46.1%43.4%9.1%
SwingDecrease2.svg1.6%Increase2.svg4.3%Increase2.svg0.1%

UK General Election, 1950.svg
Colours denote the winning party

Composition of the Commons in 1950.svg
Composition of the House of Commons after the election

Prime Minister before election

Clement Attlee
Labour

Prime Minister after election

Clement Attlee
Labour

The 1950 United Kingdom general election was the first ever to be held after a full term of Labour government. The election was held on Thursday 23 February 1950, and was the first held following the abolition of plural voting and university constituencies. The government's 1945 lead over the Conservative Party shrank dramatically, and Labour was returned to power but with an overall majority reduced from 146 to just 5. There was a 2.8% national swing towards the Conservatives, who gained 90 seats. Labour called another general election in 1951, which the Conservative Party won.

Contents

Turnout increased to 83.9%, the highest turnout in a UK general election under universal suffrage, [1] and representing an increase of more than 11% in comparison to 1945.

It was also the first general election to be covered on television, although the footage was not recorded. Richard Dimbleby hosted the BBC coverage of the election, which he would later do again for the 1951, 1955, 1959 and the 1964 general elections. On this occasion, Dimbleby was joined in the BBC Lime Grove Studios by R. B. McCallum, Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, and author of The British General Election of 1945, and David Butler, research student of Nuffield College. The first election night programme ran from 10:45 pm until just after 1:00 am. [2]

Background

Significant changes since the 1945 general election included the abolition of plural voting by the Representation of the People Act 1948, and a major reorganisation of constituencies by the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949. Eleven new English seats were created and six were abolished, and there were over 170 major alterations to constituencies across the country. Parliament was dissolved on 3 February 1950. [3]

Campaign

The Conservatives, having recovered from their landslide election defeat in 1945, accepted most of the welfare state and nationalisation that had taken place under the Attlee government, which included the National Health Service and the mixed economy. The Tory manifesto, "This Is The Road" accepted the new welfare state’s foundations but focused on the loss of freedoms and aspirations since 1945. Churchill claimed Attlee had not “levelled up” but had actually “levelled down”. [4] The campaign essentially focused on the possible future nationalisation of other sectors and industries, which was supported by the Labour Party, and opposed by the Conservatives. The Liberals essentially viewed the struggle between the two parties on this issue as a class struggle. [5]

One of the major election issues was the rationing still in effect on petrol, confectionery and meats over five years after the end of the war. The Conservative Party promised to phase out rationing while Labour campaigned for its continuation. [6]

Analysis showed that Labour suffered huge losses of seats due to a “revolt of the suburbs”, with substantial swings against them among Middle England voters in London, the Home Counties, Essex and Middlesex. The effects of the Labour government's austerity, and inflation had hit middle income voters hard. In particular, rationing of basic foods like bread and powdered egg were incredibly unpopular. While campaigning in Leicester, Attlee was met with “catcalls” and chants of “vermin” while Hugh Gaitskell sensed there was “a collection of grievances among the lower middle class and middle class” against Labour. [4]

The Liberal Party fielded 475 candidates, more than at any general election since 1929. Liberal Party leader Clement Davies felt that the party had been at a disadvantage at the 1945 general election when they ran fewer candidates than needed to form a government. Davies arranged for the cost of running extra candidates to be offset by the party taking out insurance with Lloyd's of London against more than fifty candidates losing their deposits. In the event, the strategy only succeeded in causing a very marginal increase in the overall Liberal vote over the previous election (albeit it was still their best popular vote percentage since 1929); the number of votes-per-candidate declined sharply, resulting in them losing a further three seats from their already-disappointing 1945 showing. A total of 319 Liberal candidates lost their deposits, a record number [7] [ page needed ] until the 2015 general election, when candidates for the Liberal Democrats lost 335 deposits at the general election held in that year. [8]

Results

31529893
LabourConservativeLO

Despite losing 78 seats, the Labour Party won an overall majority of 5 seats, down from 146 in the previous election, while their vote share slightly declined. The Conservatives saw a resurgence in their support, gaining an additional 90 seats and saw their vote share improve by more than 4%.

Prominent personalities entering Parliament in this election included Edward Heath (Bexley), Jo Grimond (Orkney and Shetland), Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton South West), Reginald Maudling (Barnet) and Iain Macleod (Enfield West).

Scottish politician Willie Gallacher lost his West Fife seat to Labour; he was the longest-serving Member of Parliament (from 1935 to 1950) and the last MP in Parliament for the Communist Party of Great Britain.

The election began the fractionalization of the Labour Party into Bevanite and Gaitskellite factions after Hugh Gaitskell blamed Aneurin Bevan for their party's disappointing performance, leading to a growing rift between the two. [9]

1950 UK parliament.svg

UK General Election 1950
CandidatesVotes
PartyLeaderStoodElectedGainedUnseatedNet % of total %No.Net %
  Labour Clement Attlee 6173157850.446.113,266,1761.6
  Conservative Winston Churchill 619298+9047.743.412,492,404+4.3
  Liberal Clement Davies 47593631.49.12,621,487+0.1
  Communist Harry Pollitt 10000220.391,7650.1
  Nationalist James McSparran 220000.30.265,2110.2
  Irish Labour William Norton 200000.252,715N/A
  Independent N/A1500000.250,2990.4
  Independent Labour N/A600000.126,3950.2
  Ind. Conservative N/A300000.124,7320.1
  Sinn Féin Paddy McLogan 200000.123,362N/A
  Plaid Cymru Gwynfor Evans 700000.117,580+0.1
  Independent Liberal N/A2 1 0 1 10.20.115,066
  SNP Robert McIntyre 300000.09,7080.1
  Anti-Partition James McSparran 400000.05,084N/A
  Ind. Labour Party David Gibson 400330.04,1120.2
 Independent Liberal and ConservativeN/A100000.01,551N/A
 National IndependentN/A100220.01,3800.3
  Mudiad Gweriniaethol Cymru N/A 1 00000.0613N/A
  Social Credit John Hargrave 1 00000.0551N/A
  United Socialist Guy Aldred 1 00000.0485
  Socialist (GB) N/A200000.0448

Votes summary

Popular vote
Labour
46.11%
Conservative
43.42%
Liberal
9.11%
Others
1.36%

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Labour
50.40%
Conservative
47.68%
Liberal
1.44%
Others
0.48%

See also

Notes

  1. Conservatives, Unionists and UUP 197 seats, 36.2%; Liberal Nationals 11 seats, 2.9% (merged with Conservatives in 1947).
  2. All parties shown. Conservative total includes Liberal National Party, (Scottish) Unionists and Ulster Unionists.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2001 United Kingdom general election</span>

The 2001 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 7 June 2001, four years after the previous election on 1 May 1997, to elect 659 members to the House of Commons. The governing Labour Party was re-elected to serve a second term in government with another landslide victory with a 167 majority, returning 412 members of Parliament versus 418 from the 1997 general election, a net loss of six seats, though with a significantly lower turnout than before—59.4%, compared to 71.3% at the previous election. The number of votes Labour received fell by nearly three million. Tony Blair went on to become the first Labour Prime Minister to serve two consecutive full terms in office. As Labour retained almost all of their seats won in the 1997 landslide victory, the media dubbed the 2001 election "the quiet landslide".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1979 United Kingdom general election</span> UK general election 1979

The 1979 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 3 May 1979 to elect 635 members to the British House of Commons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1983 United Kingdom general election</span>

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 majority of 144 seats.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1970 United Kingdom general election</span>

The 1970 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 18 June 1970. It resulted in a surprise victory for the Conservative Party under leader Edward Heath, which defeated the governing Labour Party under Harold Wilson. The Liberal Party, under its new leader Jeremy Thorpe, lost half its seats. The Conservatives, including the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), secured a majority of 30 seats. This general election was the first in which people could vote from the age of 18, after passage of the Representation of the People Act the previous year, and the first UK election where party, and not just candidate names were allowed to be put on the ballots.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">October 1974 United Kingdom general election</span> UK general election 1974 (October)

The October 1974 United Kingdom general election took place on Thursday 10 October 1974 to elect 635 members of the British House of Commons. It was the second general election held that year, the first year that two general elections were held in the same year since 1910, and the first time that two general elections were held less than a year apart from each other since the 1923 and 1924 elections, which took place 10 months apart. The election resulted in the Labour Party led by Harold Wilson winning the narrowest majority recorded, 3 seats. This enabled the remainder of the Labour government, 1974–1979 to take place, which saw a gradual loss of its majority.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1945 United Kingdom general election</span>

The 1945 United Kingdom general election was a national election held on 5 July 1945, but polling in some constituencies was delayed by some days, and the counting of votes was delayed until 26 July to provide time for overseas votes to be brought to Britain. The governing Conservative Party sought to maintain its position in Parliament but faced challenges from public opinion about the future of the United Kingdom in the post-war period. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill proposed to call for a general election in Parliament, which passed with a majority vote less than two months after the conclusion of the Second World War in Europe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1964 United Kingdom general election</span>

The 1964 United Kingdom general election was held on 15 October 1964, five years after the previous election, and thirteen years after the Conservative Party, first led by Winston Churchill, had regained power. It resulted in the Conservatives, led by the incumbent Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home, narrowly losing to the Labour Party, led by Harold Wilson; Labour secured a parliamentary majority of four seats and ended its thirteen years in opposition. Wilson became the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Rosebery in 1894.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Unionist Party (Scotland)</span> Former centre-right political party in Scotland

The Unionist Party was the main centre-right political party in Scotland between 1912 and 1965.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1951 United Kingdom general election</span> October 1951 general election

The 1951 United Kingdom general election was held twenty months after the 1950 general election, which the Labour Party had won with a slim majority of just five seats. The Labour government called a snap election for Thursday 25 October 1951 in the hope of increasing its parliamentary majority. However, despite winning the popular vote and achieving both the highest-ever total vote and highest percentage vote share, Labour won fewer seats than the Conservative Party. This election marked the return of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister, and the beginning of Labour's thirteen-year spell in opposition. This was the final general election to be held with George VI as monarch, for he died the following year on 6 February and was succeeded by his daughter, Elizabeth II. It is also the most recent election in which the Conservatives have done better in Scotland than in England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1955 United Kingdom general election</span>

The 1955 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 26 May 1955, four years after the previous general election in 1951. It was a snap election: After Winston Churchill retired in April 1955, Anthony Eden took over and immediately called the election in order to gain a mandate for his government. It resulted in a majority of 60 seats for the government under new leader and Prime Minister Anthony Eden; the result remains the largest party share of the vote at a post-war general election. This was the first general election to be held with Elizabeth II as monarch, having succeeded her father George VI a year after the previous election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1959 United Kingdom general election</span> 8th October 1959

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 a landslide majority of 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1935 United Kingdom general election</span>

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 resurgence in the main Labour vote caused over a third of their MPs, including National Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald, to lose their seats.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1924 United Kingdom general election</span>

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. Parliament was dissolved on 9 October.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1918 United Kingdom general election</span>

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, including party leader H. H. Asquith.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2004 European Parliament election in the United Kingdom</span> Election

The 2004 European Parliament election was the United Kingdom's part of the wider 2004 European Parliament election which was held between 10 and 13 June 2004 in the 25 member states of the European Union. The United Kingdom's part of this election was held on Thursday 10 June 2004. The election also coincided with the 2004 local elections and the London Assembly and mayoral elections. In total, 78 Members of the European Parliament were elected from the United Kingdom using proportional representation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2005 United Kingdom general election</span>

The 2005 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 5 May 2005, to elect 646 members to the House of Commons. The Labour Party, led by Tony Blair, won its third consecutive victory, with Blair becoming the second Labour leader after Harold Wilson to form three majority governments. However, its majority fell to 66 seats compared to the 167-seat majority it had won four years before. This was the first time the Labour Party had won a third consecutive election, and remains the party's most recent general election victory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2010 United Kingdom general election</span> General election held in the United Kingdom

The 2010 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 6 May 2010, with 45,597,461 registered voters entitled to vote to elect members to the House of Commons. The election took place in 650 constituencies across the United Kingdom under the first-past-the-post system.

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.

Wednesbury was a borough constituency in England's Black Country which returned one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1868 until it was abolished for the February 1974 general election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Emrys Roberts</span> British politician

Emrys Owen Roberts CBE was a Welsh Liberal politician and businessman.

References

  1. Parliamentary Government in Britain, Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1981, page 104
  2. "General Election Results", The Radio Times (1375): 47, 17 February 1950, retrieved 27 March 2018 via BBC Genome
  3. "Parliamentary Election Timetables" (PDF) (3rd ed.). House of Commons Library. 25 March 1997. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  4. 1 2 "Masters No More: Clement Attlee and the 'Revolt of the Suburbs'", The Critic, 23 February 2021, retrieved 25 February 2022
  5. "1950: Labour majority slashed", BBC News, 5 April 2005, retrieved 13 May 2018
  6. Kynaston, David (2007), Austerity Britain, 1945–1951, Bloomsbury, ISBN   978-0-7475-7985-4
  7. De Groot 1993.
  8. Liberal Democrats face soaring fines for failing to win enough votes - Spectator Blogs, archived from the original on 8 December 2015, retrieved 27 November 2015
  9. Campbell, John (2010). Pistols at Dawn: Two Hundred Years of Political Rivalry from Pitt and Fox to Blair and Brown. London: Vintage. p. 202. ISBN   978-1-84595-091-0. OCLC   489636152.
  10. Voter turnout at UK general elections 1945–2015, UK Political Info

Sources

Manifestos