List of United Kingdom general elections

Last updated

This is a list of United Kingdom general elections (elections for the UK House of Commons) since the first in 1802. The members of the 1801–1802 Parliament had been elected to the former Parliament of Great Britain and Parliament of Ireland, before being co-opted to serve in the first Parliament of the United Kingdom, so that Parliament is not included in the table below.

Contents

Election results

Shares of the vote in general elections since 1832 received by Conservatives (blue), Liberals/Liberal Democrats (orange), Labour (red) and others (grey) UK popular vote.svg
Shares of the vote in general elections since 1832 received by Conservatives (blue), Liberals/Liberal Democrats (orange), Labour (red) and others (grey)

In 1801, the right to vote in the United Kingdom was severely restricted. Universal suffrage, on an equal basis for men and women over the age of 21, was established in 1928. Before 1918, general elections did not occur on a single day and polling was spread over several weeks.

The majority figure given is for the difference between the number of MPs elected at the general election from the party (or parties) of the government, as opposed to all other parties (some of which may have been giving some support to the government, but were not participating in a coalition). The Speaker is excluded from the calculation. A negative majority means that there was a hung parliament (or minority government) following that election. For example, at the 1929 general election, Labour was 42 seats short of forming a majority, and so its majority is listed as −42. If the party in office changed the figure is re-calculated, but no allowance is made for changes after the general election.

No attempt is made to define a majority before 1832, when the Reform Act disenfranchised the rotten boroughs; before then the Tory party had an undemocratically entrenched dominance. Particularly in the early part of the period, the complexity of factional alignments, with both the Whig and Tory traditions tending to have some members in government and others in opposition factions simultaneously, make it impossible to produce an accurate majority figure. The figures between 1832 and about 1859 are approximate due to problems of defining what was a party in government, as the source provides figures for all Liberals rather than just the Whig component in what developed into the Liberal Party. The Whig and Peelite Prime Ministers in the table below are regarded as having the support of all Liberals.

List of elections

19th century

ElectionDatesElected prime minister
(during term)
Winning partySeat majoritySeatsMonarch
(Reign)
1802 (MPs)5 July – 28 August 1802 Henry Addington Tory N/A 658 George III
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1801-1816).svg
(1760–1820)
(William Pitt the Younger) [lower-alpha 1]
1806 (MPs)29 October – 17 December 1806 The Lord Grenville Whig 658
1807 (MPs)4 May – 9 June 1807 The Duke of Portland Tory658
(Spencer Perceval) [lower-alpha 1]
1812 (MPs)5 October – 10 November 1812 The Earl of Liverpool
1818 (MPs)17 June – 18 July 1818
1820 (MPs)6 March – 14 April 1820 George IV
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1816-1837).svg
(1820–1830)
1826 (MPs)7 June – 12 July 1826 George Canning [lower-alpha 1]
(The Viscount Goderich)
(The Duke of Wellington)
1830 (MPs)29 July – 1 September 1830The Duke of Wellington [lower-alpha 2] [4] ToryN/A658 William IV
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1816-1837).svg
(1830–1837)
1831 (MPs)28 April – 1 June 1831 The Earl Grey Whig N/A658
1832 (MPs)8 December 1832 – 8 January 1833The Earl Grey225
(The Viscount Melbourne) [lower-alpha 3] [5]
(The Duke of Wellington) Conservative −308
(Sir Robert Peel)
1835 (MPs)6 January – 6 February 1835Sir Robert Peel [lower-alpha 4] [6] −113 (C)
(The Viscount Melbourne) Whig 113
1837 (MPs)24 July – 18 August 1837The Viscount Melbourne [lower-alpha 5] [7] 29 Victoria
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
(1837–1901)
1841 (MPs)29 June – 22 July 1841The Viscount Melbourne [lower-alpha 6] [8] WhigN/A658
(Sir Robert Peel) [lower-alpha 7] [9] Conservative77
(Lord John Russell) Whig N/A
1847 (MPs)29 July – 26 August 1847Lord John Russell [lower-alpha 8] [10] Whig−72 656
(The Earl of Derby)ConservativeN/A
1852 (MPs)7–31 July 1852The Earl of Derby [lower-alpha 9] [11] Conservative7654
(The Earl of Aberdeen) [lower-alpha 10] [12] Peelite N/A
(The Viscount Palmerston) Whig
1857 (MPs)27 March – 24 April 1857The Viscount Palmerston [lower-alpha 11] [13] Whig100654
(The Earl of Derby)ConservativeN/A
1859 (MPs)28 April – 18 May 1859The Earl of Derby [lower-alpha 12] [14] ConservativeN/A654
(The Viscount Palmerston) Liberal 59
1865 (MPs)11–24 July 1865The Viscount Palmerston [lower-alpha 1] 81658
(The Earl Russell) [lower-alpha 13] [15] N/A
(The Earl of Derby)Conservative
(Benjamin Disraeli)
1868 (MPs)17 November – 7 December 1868 William Ewart Gladstone Liberal115658
1874 (MPs)31 January – 17 February 1874Benjamin DisraeliConservative49652
1880 (MPs)31 March – 27 April 1880William Ewart Gladstone [16] Liberal51652
(The Marquess of Salisbury)ConservativeN/A
1885 (MPs)24 November – 18 December 1885The Marquess of Salisbury [17] Conservative [lower-alpha 14] N/A670
(William Ewart Gladstone) [18] Liberal16
1886 (MPs)1–27 July 1886The Marquess of SalisburyConservative & Liberal Unionists58
1892 (MPs)4–26 July 1892The Marquess of Salisbury [19] N/A
(William Ewart Gladstone)Liberal−126
(The Earl of Rosebery) [20] N/A
(The Marquess of Salisbury) [lower-alpha 15] Conservative
1895 (MPs)13 July – 7 August 1895The Marquess of SalisburyConservative & Liberal Unionists153670
1900 (MPs)26 September – 24 October 1900 [lower-alpha 16] The Marquess of SalisburyConservative & Liberal Unionists135670
(Arthur Balfour)N/A
(Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman) [lower-alpha 15] Liberal
ElectionDateElected prime minister
(during term)
Winning partySeat majoritySeatsMonarch
(Reign)
  1. 1 2 3 4 Died in office.
  2. Was defeated on a motion to examine the accounts of the Civil List on 15 November 1830 and resigned the following day.
  3. Was dismissed by William IV on 14 November 1834.
  4. Peel was defeated on a report about the Irish Church on 7 April 1835 and resigned the following day.
  5. Defeated on a motion of no confidence on 4 June 1841 and advised the Queen to dissolve Parliament, which she did on 23 June.
  6. Ministry met the House of Commons, but was defeated on an amendment to the Address on 27 August 1841 and resigned on 30 August 1841.
  7. Was defeated on an Irish Coercion Bill on 25 June 1846 and resigned on 29 June 1846.
  8. Was defeated on a militia Bill on 20 February 1852 and resigned on 23 February.
  9. Was defeated on the Budget on 16 December 1852 and resigned on 19 December 1852.
  10. Was defeated on a vote in favour of a select committee to enquire into alleged mismanagement during the Crimean War on 29 January 1855 and resigned the next day.
  11. Was defeated on a Bill, which made it a felony to plot in Britain to murder someone abroad, on 19 February 1858 and resigned on the same day.
  12. Ministry met the Commons, but was defeated on an amendment to the Address on 10 June 1859 and resigned on 11 June 1859.
  13. Was defeated on Parliamentary reform proposals on 18 June 1866 and resigned on 26 June 1866.
  14. Hung parliament.
  15. 1 2 Immediately advised the dissolution of Parliament upon becoming Prime Minister.
  16. Known as a Khaki election which is an election heavily influenced by wartime or postwar sentiment.

20th century

ElectionDateElected prime minister
(during term)
Winning partySeat majoritySeatsTurnout [21] Monarch
(Reign)
1906 (MPs)12 January – 8 February 1906Sir Henry Campbell-BannermanLiberal129670N/A Edward VII
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
(1901–1910)
(H. H. Asquith)
1910 (MPs)15 January – 10 February 1910H. H. AsquithLiberal (minority government) [lower-alpha 1] −122670
1910 (MPs)3–19 December 1910H. H. Asquith−126 George V
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
(1910–1936)
(David Lloyd George)
The election that would have been due by 1916 as a result of the Parliament Act 1911 was not held due to the First World War (1914–1918).
1918 (MPs)14 December 1918David Lloyd GeorgeLiberal (coalition government) [lower-alpha 2] 23870757.2%
(Bonar Law) [lower-alpha 3] Conservative
1922 (MPs)15 November 1922Bonar Law7461573.0%
(Stanley Baldwin)
1923 (MPs)6 December 1923Stanley Baldwin [22] Conservative (minority government) [lower-alpha 1] N/A61571.1%
(Ramsay MacDonald) Labour (minority government)−98
1924 (MPs)29 October 1924Stanley BaldwinConservative21061577.0%
1929 (MPs)30 May 1929 [lower-alpha 4] Ramsay MacDonaldLabour (minority government) [lower-alpha 1] −4261576.3%
1931 (MPs)27 October 1931Ramsay MacDonald National Labour (National Government)49261576.4%
1935 (MPs)14 November 1935Stanley BaldwinConservative (National Government)24271.1%
(Neville Chamberlain)242 George VI
Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (1837-1952).svg
(1936–1952)
(Winston Churchill)Conservative (war-time coalition)609
Conservative (caretaker government)242
The election due by 1940 was not held due to the Second World War (1939–1945).
1945 (MPs)5 July 1945 Clement Attlee Labour14664072.8%
1950 (MPs)23 February 1950562583.9%
1951 (MPs)25 October 1951Sir Winston ChurchillConservative1762582.6%
(Sir Anthony Eden)
1955 (MPs)26 May 1955Sir Anthony Eden60 630 76.8% Elizabeth II
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
(1952–present)
(Harold Macmillan)
1959 (MPs)8 October 1959Harold Macmillan10078.7%
(Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
1964 (MPs)15 October 1964 Harold Wilson Labour463077.1%
1966 (MPs)31 March 19669875.8%
1970 (MPs)18 June 1970 Edward Heath Conservative3063072.0%
1974 (MPs)28 February 1974Harold WilsonLabour (minority government) [lower-alpha 1] −3363078.8%
1974 (MPs)10 October 1974Harold WilsonLabour3 635 72.8%
(James Callaghan)
1979 (MPs)3 May 1979 Margaret Thatcher Conservative4363576.0%
1983 (MPs)9 June 1983144 650 72.7%
1987 (MPs)11 June 1987Margaret Thatcher10275.3%
(John Major)
1992 (MPs)9 April 1992John Major2165177.7%
1997 (MPs)1 May 1997 Tony Blair Labour17965971.4%
ElectionDateElected prime minister
(during term)
Winning partySeat majoritySeatsTurnout [21] Monarch
(Reign)
  1. 1 2 3 4 Hung parliament.
  2. Coalition Coupon. The Conservative party (led by Bonar Law) won the most votes and seats, but David Lloyd George became Prime Minister as leader of the Liberal party as part of a major cross-party deal.
  3. Bonar Law immediately advised the dissolution of Parliament upon becoming Prime Minister on 23 October 1922.
  4. Known as the ’flapper’ election because it was the first election in which women aged 21–29 had the right to vote.

21st century

ElectionDateElected prime minister
(during term)
Winning partySeat majoritySeatsTurnout [21] Monarch
(Reign)
2001 (MPs)7 June 2001 Tony Blair Labour16765959.4% Elizabeth II
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom.svg
(1952–present)
2005 (MPs)5 May 2005Tony Blair6664661.4%
(Gordon Brown) [lower-alpha 1]
2010 (MPs)6 May 2010 David Cameron Conservative (coalition) [lower-alpha 2] 78 [lower-alpha 3] 65065.1%
2015 (MPs)7 May 2015David CameronConservative1265066.1%
(Theresa May) [lower-alpha 4]
2017 (MPs)8 June 2017Theresa MayConservative (minority government) [lower-alpha 5] −5 [lower-alpha 6] 65068.8% [23]
(Boris Johnson) [lower-alpha 7]
2019 (MPs)12 December 2019Boris JohnsonConservative8065067.3%
ElectionDateElected prime minister
(during term)
Winning partySeat majoritySeatsTurnout [21] Monarch
(Reign)
  1. Brown succeeded Blair as leader of the Labour party on 24 June 2007, after being unopposed in a party leadership election. He officially became Prime Minister 3 days later.
  2. Hung parliament. Formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
  3. Combined coalition total.
  4. May succeeded Cameron as Prime Minister on 13 July 2016, following a short party leadership election.
  5. Hung parliament.
  6. Confidence and supply agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party.
  7. Johnson succeeded May as Prime Minister on 24 July 2019 – two days after being elected leader of the Conservative Party in a party leadership election.

See also

Notes

    1. Including Tory (1832), Conservative (from 1835), Liberal Conservative (1847–59), Liberal Unionist (1886–1910), National parties (1931–45).
    2. Including Whig (to mid-19th century), Liberal (mid-19th century to 1979), National Liberal (1922), Independent Liberal (1931), SDP-Liberal Alliance (1983–87) and Liberal Democrat (from 1992).

    Related Research Articles

    House of Commons of the United Kingdom Lower house in the Parliament of the United Kingdom

    The House of Commons is the lower house and de facto primary chamber of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster.

    Politics of the United Kingdom Political system of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    The United Kingdom is a unitary state with devolution that is governed within the framework of a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy in which the monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II, is the head of state while the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, currently Boris Johnson, is the head of government. Executive power is exercised by the British government, on behalf of and by the consent of the monarch, and the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as well as in the Scottish and Welsh parliaments and the Northern Ireland Assembly. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The highest court is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

    Robert Peel British Conservative statesman

    Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, was an English Conservative statesman who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and twice as Home Secretary. He is regarded as the father of modern British policing, owing to his founding of the Metropolitan Police Service. Peel was one of the founders of the modern Conservative Party.

    John Russell, 1st Earl Russell Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1846 to 1852 and 1865 to 1866

    John Russell, 1st Earl Russell,, known by his courtesy title Lord John Russell before 1861, was a British Whig and Liberal statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1846 to 1852 and again from 1865 to 1866.

    Sir James Graham, 2nd Baronet 19th-century British statesman

    Sir James Robert George Graham, 2nd Baronet was a British statesman. He was descended from a family long famous in the history of the English border.

    Sir George Grey, 2nd Baronet

    Sir George Grey, 2nd Baronet, PC was a British Whig politician. He held office under four Prime Ministers, Lord Melbourne, Lord John Russell, Lord Aberdeen, and Lord Palmerston, and notably served three times as Home Secretary.

    Leader of the Opposition (United Kingdom) Politician who leads the official opposition in the United Kingdom

    The leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition, more commonly known simply as the Leader of the Opposition, is the politician who leads the official opposition in the United Kingdom. The leader of the opposition by convention leads the largest party not within the government: where one party wins outright this is the party leader of the second largest political party in the House of Commons. The current leader of the opposition is Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, who was elected to the leadership of the Labour Party on 4 April 2020.

    Edward Horsman

    Edward Horsman PC, PC (Ire), was a British politician.

    Henry Grattan (junior)

    Henry Grattan was an Irish politician, who was Member of Parliament for Dublin City on behalf of the Whigs from 1826 to 1830 in the British House of Commons. From 1831 to 1852, he represented Meath for the Repeal Association.

    Captain Stuart Hugh Minto Russell was a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom.

    In parliamentary politics, balance of power is a situation in which one or more members of a parliamentary or similar chamber can by their uncommitted vote enable a party to attain and remain in minority government. The term may also be applied to the members who hold that position. The members holding the balance of power may guarantee their support for a government by either joining it in a coalition government or by an assurance that they will vote against any motion of no confidence in the government or will abstain in such a vote. In return for such a commitment, such members may demand legislative or policy commitments from the party they are to support. A person or party may also hold a balance of power in a chamber without any commitment to government, in which case both the government and opposition groupings may on occasion need to negotiate for that person's or party's support.

    William Duncombe, 2nd Baron Feversham

    William Duncombe, 2nd Baron Feversham, was a British peer with a large estate in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He was prominent in the affairs of the Royal Agricultural Society and owner of a prize-winning herd of short-horn cattle. He served as a Tory Member of Parliament (MP) for the Riding from 1832 to 1841, after which he sat in the House of Lords, having succeeded to the title on the death of his father. From 1826 to 1831 he had sat as an Ultra-Tory MP. He was the first MP to support Richard Oastler's campaign for Factory Reform, and gave it unwavering support for the rest of his life; in 1847 he seconded the Second Reading in the Lords of the Factory Act of that year.

    1979 vote of no confidence in the Callaghan ministry 1979 political event in the UK

    A vote of no confidence in the British Labour government of James Callaghan occurred on 28 March 1979. The vote was brought by Opposition leader Margaret Thatcher and was lost by the Labour Government by one vote, which was announced at 10:19 pm. The result mandated a general election which was won by Thatcher's Conservative Party. The last time an election had been forced by the House of Commons was in 1924, when Ramsay MacDonald, the first Labour Prime Minister, lost a vote of confidence. Labour politician Roy Hattersley later remarked that the vote marked "the last rites" of 'old Labour'. Labour did not return to government for another 18 years. The BBC has referred to the vote as "one of the most dramatic nights in Westminster history".

    In the United Kingdom, confidence motions are a means of testing the support of the government (executive) in a legislative body, and for the legislature to remove the government from office. A confidence motion may take the form of either a vote of confidence, usually put forward by the government, or a vote of no confidence, usually proposed by the opposition. When such a motion is put to a vote in the legislature, if a vote of confidence is defeated, or a vote of no confidence is passed, then the incumbent government must resign, or call a general election.

    1892 vote of no confidence in the Salisbury ministry

    The vote of no confidence in the second Salisbury ministry occurred when the Conservative government of Robert Cecil, the Marquess of Salisbury decided to meet Parliament after the general election despite not winning a majority. The government presented a Queen's Speech, but was defeated on 11 August 1892 when the House of Commons carried by 350 to 310 an amendment moved by the opposition Liberal Party declaring that Her Majesty's "present advisers" did not possess the confidence of the House. After the vote Salisbury resigned and Liberal Party leader William Ewart Gladstone became Prime Minister for the fourth time.

    Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 United Kingdom legislation

    The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that for the first time sets in legislation a default fixed election date for a general election to the Westminster parliament. Before the passage of the Act elections were required by law to be held at least once every five years, but could be called earlier if the Prime Minister advised the monarch to exercise the royal prerogative to do so. Prime Ministers often employed this mechanism to call an election before the end of the five-year term, sometimes fairly early in it, and some critics saw this as giving an unfair advantage to an incumbent Prime Minister. An election could also take place following a vote of no confidence in the government: such a motion would be passed with an ordinary simple majority of those voting in the House of Commons and would, according to constitutional convention, force the government to resign, at which point the Prime Minister would generally advise the monarch to call for a new election.

    The City of London by-election, 1904 was a parliamentary by-election held in England on 9 February 1904 for the House of Commons constituency of City of London.

    2010s political history refers to significant political and societal historical events in the United Kingdom in the 2010s, presented as a historical overview in narrative format.

    References

    1. Table 2.01 "Summary Results of General Elections 1832–2005 (UK)", British electoral facts, 1832–2006, by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, 7th edition, 2007, ISBN   978-0-7546-2712-8, p. 59.
    2. Election 2010 Results, BBC News.
    3. Election 2015 Results, BBC News.
    4. "COMMITTEE "UPON THE CIVIL LIST. (Hansard, 15 November 1830)". api.parliament.uk.
    5. "PROROGATION. (Hansard, 15 August 1834)". api.parliament.uk.
    6. "CHURCH OF IRELAND. (Hansard, 7 April 1835)". api.parliament.uk.
    7. "CONFIDENCE IN THE MINISTRY— ADJOURNED DEBATE (FIFTH DAY). (Hansard, 4 June 1841)". api.parliament.uk.
    8. "ADDRESS IN ANSWER TO THE SPEECH— ADJOURNED DEBATE, FOURTH NIGHT. (Hansard, 27 August 1841)". api.parliament.uk.
    9. "PROTECTION OF LIFE (IRELAND) BILL—ADJOURNED DEBATE—(SIXTH NIGHT). (Hansard, 25 June 1846)". api.parliament.uk.
    10. "LOCAL MILITIA. (Hansard, 20 February 1852)". api.parliament.uk.
    11. "WAYS AND MEANS—FINANCIAL STATEMENT—ADJOURNED DEBATE(FOURTH NIGHT). (Hansard, 16 December 1852)". api.parliament.uk.
    12. "ARMY (CRIMEA)—THE CONDUCT OF THE WAR, AND CONDITION OF THE ARMY. ADJOURNED DEBATE.—(SECOND NIGHT.) (Hansard, 29 January 1855)". api.parliament.uk.
    13. "SECOND READING. (Hansard, 19 February 1858)". api.parliament.uk. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
    14. "DEBATE RESUMED. (THIRD NIGHT). (Hansard, 10 June 1859)". api.parliament.uk. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
    15. "MOTION FOR ADJOURNMENT. (Hansard, 19 June 1866)". api.parliament.uk.
    16. Was defeated on the Budget on 8 June 1885 and resigned the next day
    17. Met the Commons, but was defeated on an amendment to the Address on 26 January 1886 and resigned on 28 January
    18. Was defeated on the Government of Ireland Bill on 7 June 1886 and advised the Queen to dissolve Parliament, which she did on 26 June.
    19. Met the Commons, but was defeated on an amendment to the Address on 11 August 1892 and resigned the same day
    20. Was defeated on the Cordite Vote on 21 June 1895 and resigned that day
    21. 1 2 3 4 Rogers, Simon (16 November 2012). "UK election historic turnouts since 1918 | News". theguardian.com. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
    22. Met the Commons, but was defeated on an amendment to the Address on 21 January 1924 and resigned the next day
    23. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-7979/ General Election 2017: full results, a more accurate result has been provided post-election.