All 630 seats in the House of Commons
316 seats needed for a majority
Colours denote the winning party—as shown in § Results
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 eventand again in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of the election.
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 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).
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 March||Dissolution of the 43rd Parliament and campaigning officially begins|
|Monday 21 March||Last day to file nomination papers; 1,707 candidates enter to contest 630 seats|
|Wednesday 30 March||Campaigning officially ends|
|Thursday 31 March||Polling day|
|Friday 1 April||The Labour Party wins with an improved majority of 98|
|Monday 18 April||44th Parliament assembles|
|Thursday 21 April||State Opening of Parliament|
|Party||Leader||Stood||Elected||Gained||Unseated||Net||% of total||%||No.||Net %|
|Plaid Cymru||Gwynfor Evans||20||0||0||0||0||0.2||61,071|
|Republican Labour||Gerry Fitt||1||1||1||0||+1||0.2||0.1||26,292|
|British National||John Bean||3||0||0||0||0||0.0||5,182|
|Union Movement||Oswald Mosley||4||0||0||0||0||0.0||4,075|
|National Democratic||David Brown||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||769|
|National Teenage||Screaming Lord Sutch||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||585|
|Ind. Labour Party||Emrys Thomas||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||441|
|Radical Alliance||Pat Arrowsmith||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||163|
|Patriotic Party||Richard Hilton||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||126|
|Government's new majority||98|
|Total votes cast||27,264,747|
These declarations were covered live by the BBC where the returning officer was heard to say "duly elected".
|Constituency||Winning party 1964||Constituency result 1966 by party||Winning party 1966|
|Wolverhampton North East||Labour||12,965||21,067||Labour hold|
|Wolverhampton South West||Conservative||21,466||14,881||Conservative hold|
|Salford West||Labour||13,257||19,237||Labour hold|
|Salford East||Labour||9,000||18,409||Labour hold|
|Devon North||Liberal||15,631||6,127||16,797||Liberal hold|
|Nelson and Colne||Labour||13,829||18,406||5,117||Labour hold|
|Preston South||Labour||17,931||20,720||Labour hold|
|Brentford and Chiswick||Conservative||14,031||14,638||2,063||Labour gain|
|Aberdeenshire West||Conservative||13,956||6,008||15,151||Liberal gain|
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