1966 United Kingdom general election

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1966 United Kingdom general election
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
  1964 31 March 1966 1970  

All 630 seats in the House of Commons
316 seats needed for a majority
Turnout75.8%, Decrease2.svg1.3%
 First partySecond partyThird party
  Premier Wilson gaf persconferentie na bespreking in Den Haag , Wilson (kop), Bestanddeelnr 920-1165 (cropped).jpg Heathdod.JPG Jo Grimond.jpg
Leader Harold Wilson Edward Heath Jo Grimond
Party Labour Conservative Liberal
Leader since 14 February 1963 28 July 1965 5 November 1956
Leader's seat Huyton Bexley Orkney & Shetland
Last election317 seats, 44.1%304 seats, 43.4%9 seats, 11.2%
Seats won364 [lower-alpha 1] 25312
Seat changeIncrease2.svg47Decrease2.svg51Increase2.svg3
Popular vote13,096,95111,418,4332,327,533
Percentage48.0%41.9%8.5%
SwingIncrease2.svg3.9%Decrease2.svg1.5%Decrease2.svg2.7%

UK General Election, 1966.svg
Colours denote the winning party—as shown in § Results

Prime Minister before election

Harold Wilson
Labour

Appointed Prime Minister

Harold Wilson
Labour

The 1966 United Kingdom general election on 31 March 1966 was won convincingly by the Labour Party led by incumbent Prime Minister Harold Wilson.

The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom that has been described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists. The party's platform emphasises greater state intervention, social justice and strengthening workers' rights.

Harold Wilson former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, was a British Labour politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.

Contents

Wilson's decision to call a snap election turned on the fact that his government, elected a mere 17 months previously in 1964, had an unworkably small majority of only 4 MPs. The Labour government was returned following this snap election with a much larger majority of 96 seats. [lower-alpha 1]

1964 United Kingdom general election general election held on 15 October 1964

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 entered power. It resulted in the Conservatives, led by its fourth leader, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, narrowly losing the election to the Labour Party, led by Harold Wilson, with Labour having an overall majority of four seats. It resulted in Labour ending its thirteen years in opposition and led to Wilson to become, at the time, the youngest Prime Minister in more than 150 years.

Background

Prior to the 1966 general election, Labour had performed poorly in local elections in 1965, and lost a by-election, cutting their majority to just two. Labour ran its campaign with the slogan "You know Labour government works".

The Leyton by-election, 1965 was a parliamentary by-election held on 21 January 1965 for the British House of Commons constituency of Leyton in east London.

Shortly after the local elections, Sir Alec Douglas-Home was replaced by Edward Heath as leader of the Conservative Party.

Edward Heath Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1970–1974)

Sir Edward Richard George Heath, often known as Ted Heath, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1965 to 1975. He was a strong supporter of the European Communities (EC), and after winning the decisive vote in the House of Commons by 336 to 244, he led the negotiations that culminated in Britain's entry into the EC on 1 January 1973. It was, says biographer John Campbell, "Heath's finest hour". Although he planned to be an innovator as Prime Minister, his government foundered on economic difficulties, including high inflation and major strikes. He became an embittered critic of Margaret Thatcher, who supplanted him as Tory leader.

The Conservatives had not really had time to prepare their campaign, although it was more professional than previously. There had been little time for Heath to become well known among the British public, having led the party for just eight months before the election. For the Liberals, money was an issue: two elections in the space of just two years had left the party in a tight financial position. [1]

The election night was broadcast live on the BBC, and was presented by Cliff Michelmore, Ian Trethowan, Sir Robin Day, Robert McKenzie and David Butler. The election was replayed on the BBC Parliament channel on the 40th anniversary of the event [2] and again in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of the election. [3]

Arthur Clifford "Cliff" Michelmore was an English television presenter and producer. He was best known for the BBC television programme Tonight, which he presented from 1957 to 1965. He also hosted the BBC's television coverage of the Apollo moon landings, the Aberfan disaster, the 1966 and 1970 UK general elections and the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in 1969. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1969.

Sir James Ian Raley Trethowan was a British journalist, radio and television broadcaster and administrator who eventually became director-general of the BBC from 1 October 1977 to 31 July 1982, having previously been managing director of BBC network radio from 1970 to 1976.

Robert McKenzie (psephologist) Canadian sociologist

Robert Trelford McKenzie was a Canadian professor of politics and sociology, and a psephologist. He is perhaps most well known in Britain as one of the main presenters of the BBC's General Election programmes.

Although the BBC's telecast was in black and white, a couple of colour television cameras were placed in the BBC election studio at Television Centre to allow CBS's Charles Collingwood and NBC's David Brinkley to file live reports from that studio by satellite and in colour for their respective networks' evening news programmes (which were transmitted at 11:30 pm British time, 6:30 pm Eastern Standard Time).

Timeline

The Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, announced on 28 February that Parliament would be dissolved on 10 March, for an election to be held on 31 March. The key dates were as follows:

Thursday 10 MarchDissolution of the 43rd Parliament and campaigning officially begins
Monday 21 MarchLast day to file nomination papers; 1,707 candidates enter to contest 630 seats
Wednesday 30 MarchCampaigning officially ends
Thursday 31 MarchPolling day
Friday 1 AprilThe Labour Party wins with an improved majority of 98
Monday 18 April 44th Parliament assembles
Thursday 21 April State Opening of Parliament

National opinion polls summary

Results

364253121
LabourConservativeLibO
UK General Election 1966
CandidatesVotes
PartyLeaderStoodElectedGainedUnseatedNet% of total%No.Net %
  Labour Harold Wilson 62236449 1 +4857.848.013,096,629
  Conservative Edward Heath 6292530525240.241.911,418,4551.5
  Liberal Jo Grimond 3111252+31.98.52,327,457
  SNP Arthur Donaldson 2300000.5128,474
  Independent Republican N/A500000.262,782
  Communist John Gollan 5700000.262,092
  Plaid Cymru Gwynfor Evans 2000000.261,071
  Independent N/A1500000.135,039
  Republican Labour Gerry Fitt 1 1 1 0+10.20.126,292
  Nationalist Eddie McAteer 1 00000.122,167
  Independent Liberal N/A300000.05,689
  British National John Bean 300000.05,182
  Ind. Conservative N/A400000.04,089
  Union Movement Oswald Mosley 400000.04,075
  Independent Labour N/A 1 00000.01,031
  Fellowship Ronald Mallone 1 00000.0906
  National Democratic David Brown 1 00000.0769
  National Teenage Screaming Lord Sutch 1 00000.0585
  Ind. Labour Party Emrys Thomas 1 00000.0441
  Socialist (GB) N/A200000.0333
  Radical Alliance Pat Arrowsmith 1 00000.0163
  Patriotic Party Richard Hilton 1 00000.0126
All parties shown. [lower-alpha 2]
Government's new majority98
Total votes cast27,264,747
Turnout75.8%

Votes summary

Popular vote
Labour
48.0%
Conservative and Allies
41.9%
Liberal
8.5%
Independent
0.4%
Others
1.14%

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Labour
57.8%
Conservative and Allies
40.2%
Liberal
1.9%
Others
0.2%

Incumbents defeated

Conservative

Labour

Liberal

Televised declarations

These declarations were covered live by the BBC where the returning officer was heard to say "duly elected".

From BBC Parliament Replay
ConstituencyWinning party 1964Constituency result 1966 by partyWinning party 1966
ConLabLibPCSNPOthers
Cheltenham Conservative 22,68319,768 Conservative hold
Wolverhampton North East Labour 12,96521,067 Labour hold
Wolverhampton South West Conservative 21,46614,881 Conservative hold
Salford West Labour 13,25719,237 Labour hold
Salford East Labour 9,00018,409 Labour hold
Exeter Conservative 18,61322,1894,869 Labour gain
Devon North Liberal 15,6316,12716,797 Liberal hold
Smethwick Conservative 14,55018,440508 Labour gain
Nelson and Colne Labour 13,82918,4065,117 Labour hold
Leyton Labour 18,15726,8033,851441 Labour recovery
Huyton Labour 20,18241,132585 Labour hold
Billericay Conservative 38,37140,0137,587 Labour gain
Preston South Labour 17,93120,720 Labour hold
Bexley Conservative 26,37724,0444,405 Conservative hold
Brentford and Chiswick Conservative 14,03114,6382,063 Labour gain
Aberdeenshire West Conservative 13,9566,00815,151 Liberal gain
Taunton Conservative 22,35919,2165,460 Conservative hold
Monmouth Conservative 25,65428,619 Labour gain

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 The BBC lists this result as 363 seats, which would give a majority of 96, due to the Speaker's seat being listed as "other", although the BBC tends to include the Speaker in the party totals. 364 seats would naturally result in a majority of 98.
  2. The Conservative figure includes Ulster Unionists and National Liberals.

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References

  1. 1966: Wilson gains mandate, BBC News, 5 April 2005, retrieved 26 May 2018
  2. Election replay 1966, BBC News, 29 March 2006, retrieved 26 May 2018
  3. 1966 General Election, BBC Parliament, retrieved 26 May 2018

Further reading

Manifestos