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United Kingdom general election, 1951

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United Kingdom general election, 1951

United Kingdom general election, 1951

25 October 1951

All 625 seats in the House of Commons
313 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 82.6%
  First party Second party Third party
 
Leader Winston Churchill Clement Attlee Clement Davies
Party Conservative Labour Liberal
Leader since 9 October 1940 25 October 1935 2 August 1945
Leader's seat Woodford Walthamstow West Montgomeryshire
Last election 298 seats (total strength) 315 seats 9 seats, 9.1%
Seats won 321 (total strength) 295 6
Seat change Increase 22 Decrease 20 Decrease 3
Popular vote 13,717,850 13,948,385 730,546
Percentage 48.0% 48.8% 2.5%
Swing Increase 5.6% Increase 2.7% Decrease 6.6%

PM before election

Clement Attlee
Labour

Subsequent PM

Winston Churchill
Conservative

1945 election MPs
1950 election MPs
1951 election MPs
1955 election MPs

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. Labour called the election for 25 October 1951 hoping to increase their majority.

Attlee had decided to call the election after the King's concerns over leaving the country to go on his Commonwealth tour in 1952 with a government that had such a slim majority. The Labour government, which by now had implemented most of its 1945 manifesto, was now beginning to lose many cabinet ministers such as Ernest Bevin due to old age. The Conservatives however, due to the recent election, looked more fresh with more new MPs. As Labour began to have some policy splits during the election campaign, the Conservatives ran an efficient campaign that was well funded and orchestrated. As for the Liberals, the poor election results in 1950 only got worse.[1]

The subsequent Labour defeat is significant for several reasons: the party polled almost a quarter of a million votes more than the Conservatives and their National Liberal allies combined, won the most votes that Labour had ever won (and has ever won as of 2014) and won the most votes of any political party in any election in British political history, a record surpassed by the Conservative Party in 1992. Despite this, it was the Conservatives who formed the next government with a majority of 16. In addition (but less significantly) under the first past the post electoral system, Labour votes translated into increased majorities for MPs in safe seats, rather than into gaining new seats. This was the second of three elections in the 20th Century, where a party lost the popular vote but won the most seats, the others being 1929 and February 1974; it also happened in 1874.

A factor that almost certainly boosted the margin of Labour's victory in the popular vote, was the unopposed return of four Conservative Party candidates. This was the last general election in which any candidates were returned unopposed, although there have since been unopposed by-elections.[2]

Results

321 295 6 3
Conservative/Liberal National Labour Lib O
UK General Election 1951
Candidates Votes
Party Standing Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % No. Net %
  Labour 617 295 2 22 - 20 47.20 48.78 13,948,883
  Conservative 562 302 20 1 + 19 48.32 44.27 12,659,712
  Liberal National 55 191 3 0 + 3 3.041 3.701 1,058,1381
  Liberal 109 6 1 4 - 3 0.96 2.55 730,546
  Independent Nationalist 3 2 0 0 0 0.32 0.32 92,787
  Irish Labour 1 1 1 0 +1 0.16 0.12 33,174
  Communist 10 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.08 21,640
  Independent 6 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.07 19,791
  Plaid Cymru 4 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.04 10,920
  SNP 2 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.03 7,299
  Independent Conservative 1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.02 5,904
  Ind. Labour Party 3 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.014 4,057
  British Empire 1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.006 1,643
  Anti-Partition 1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.005 1,340
  United Socialist 1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.001 411

Total votes cast: 28,596,594. All parties shown. Conservative result includes the Ulster Unionists.

1 The National Liberals were in alliance with the Conservatives, bringing total Conservative strength to 321 seats (51.36%); votes total 13,717,850 (47.97%).
Government's new majority 17
Total votes cast 28,596,594
Turnout 82.6%

Votes summary

Popular vote
Conservative
  
47.97%
Labour
  
48.78%
Liberal
  
2.55%
Independent
  
0.43%
Others
  
0.26%

Headline Swing: 1.13% to Conservative

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Conservative
  
51.36%
Labour
  
47.20%
Liberal
  
0.96%
Others
  
0.48%

Seats changing hands

  • From Conservative to Liberal (0 seats):
  • From Labour to Conservative (21 seats): Barry, Battersea South, Bedfordshire South, Berwick and East Lothian, Bolton East, Buckingham, Conway, Darlington, Doncaster, Dulwich, King's Lynn, Manchester Blackley, Middlesbrough West, Norfolk South West, Oldham East, Plymouth Sutton, Reading North, Rochdale, Rutherglen, Wycombe and Yarmouth
  • From Labour to Liberal (1 seat): Bolton West
  • From Liberal to Conservative (2 seats): Eye and Roxburgh
  • From Liberal to Labour (2 seats): Anglesey and Meirioneth
  • From Ulster Unionist to Irish Labour (1 seat): Belfast West

See also

References

  1. ^ "UK | UK Politics | The Basics | past_elections | 1951: Churchill back in power at last". BBC News. 2005-04-05. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  2. ^ "General Election Results 1885-1979". Election.demon.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 

Further reading

  • David E, Butler The British General Election of 1951 (1952). the standard study
  • F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987
  • United Kingdom election results - summary results 1885–1979

Manifestos

  • CONSERVATIVE PARTY: 1951- 1951 Conservative manifesto.
  • Labour Party Election Manifesto - 1951 Labour Party manifesto.
  • The Nation's Task - 1951 Liberal Party manifesto.
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