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The 1950 United Kingdom general election was the first general election ever to be held after a full term of
Labour Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leaves the uterus by passing through the vagina or by Caesarean section. In 2015, there were about 13 ...
government. The election was held on Thursday 23 February 1950. The election was the first held after the abolition of
plural voting Plural voting is the practice whereby one person might be able to vote multiple times in an election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public admi ...
and
university constituencies A university constituency is a constituency, used in elections to a legislature, that represents the members of one or more universities rather than residents of a geographical area. These may or may not involve plural voting, in which voters ar ...
. The Labour Government's
1945 It marked the end of World War II and the fall of Nazi Germany. It is also the only year in which nuclear weapons have been used in combat. Events Below, the events of World War II have the "WWII" prefix. January * January – WWII: The ...
lead over the Conservatives shrunk dramatically and it was returned to power but with an overall majority reduced from 146 to just 5. There was a 5.8% national swing towards the Conservatives, who gained 90 seats. Labour called another general election in 1951, which it lost to the Conservative Party. Turnout increased to 83.9%, the highest turnout in a UK general election under universal suffrage, and representing an increase of more than 11% in comparison to
1945 It marked the end of World War II and the fall of Nazi Germany. It is also the only year in which nuclear weapons have been used in combat. Events Below, the events of World War II have the "WWII" prefix. January * January – WWII: The ...
. It was also the first general election to be covered on television, although the footage was not recorded.
Richard Dimbleby Frederick Richard Dimbleby, Commander of the Order of the British Empire, CBE (25 May 1913 – 22 December 1965) was an English journalist and broadcaster, who became the BBC's first war correspondent, and then its leading TV news commenta ...
hosted the
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcasting, broadcaster in the world by ...
coverage of the election, which he would later do again for the
1951 Events January * January 1 – Patti Page's hit song "Tennessee Waltz" enjoys its first week as the No. 1 single, on ''Billboard charts, Billboard'' and ''Cashbox (magazine), Cashbox'' Record chart, charts, in the United States. * January 4 ...
,
1955 Events January * January 3 Events Pre-1600 * 69 – The Roman legions on the Rhine refuse to declare their allegiance to Galba Galba (; born Servius Sulpicius Galba; 24 December 3 BC – 15 January AD 69) was a Roman emperor ...
,
1959 Events January * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in leap years). This day is known as New Year's Day since the d ...
and the 1964 general elections. On this occasion, Dimbleby was joined in the BBC
Lime Grove Studios Lime Grove Studios was a film A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art The visual arts are art forms such as painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any ...
by R. B. McCallum, Fellow of
Pembroke College, Oxford Pembroke College, a constituent college A collegiate university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education an ...

Pembroke College, Oxford
, and author of ''The British General Election of 1945'' and David Butler, research student of
Nuffield College Nuffield College () is one of the Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. It is a graduate college and specialises in the social sciences, particularly economics, politics and sociology ...

Nuffield College
. The first election night programme ran from 10:45 pm until just after 1:00 am.


Background

Significant changes since the 1945 general election included the abolition of
plural voting Plural voting is the practice whereby one person might be able to vote multiple times in an election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public admi ...
by the
Representation of the People Act 1948 The Representation of the People Act 1948 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws fo ...
, and a major reorganisation of constituencies by the
House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949 The House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organ ...
. Eleven new English seats were created and six were abolished, and there were over 170 major alterations to constituencies across the country.


Campaign

The Conservatives, having recovered from their landslide election defeat in 1945, accepted most of the
nationalisation Nationalization (or nationalisation) is the process of transforming privately-owned assets into public assets by bringing them under the State ownership, public ownership of a Government, national government or State (polity) , state. Nationa ...
that had taken place under the Attlee government, which included the
NHS The National Health Service (NHS) is the umbrella term for the publicly funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom (UK). Since 1948, they have been funded out of general taxation. There are three systems which are referred to using the " ...
and the mixed economy. 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 Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
essentially viewed the struggle between the two parties on this issue as a
class struggle Class conflict, also referred to as class struggle and class warfare, is the political tension and economic antagonism that exists in society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to count ...
. One of the major election issues was
Rationing Rationing is the controlled distribution of scarce resources, goods, services, or an artificial restriction of demand. Rationing controls the size of the ration, which is one's allowed portion of the resources being distributed on a particular ...
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. The Liberal Party fielded 475 candidates, more than at any general election since
1929 This year marked the end of a period known in American history as the Roaring Twenties The Roaring Twenties, sometimes stylized as the Roarin' 20s, refers to the decade of the 1920s in Western world, Western society and Western culture. ...
. Liberal Party leader
Clement Davies Edward Clement Davies (19 February 1884 – 23 March 1962) was a Welsh people, Welsh politician and leader of the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party from 1945 to 1956. Early life and education Born in Llanfyllin, Wales, and educated at the local ...

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 Lloyd's of London, generally known simply as Lloyd's, is an insurance Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management Risk management is the identification, evaluation, and prioritization ...
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 until 2015, when candidates for the Liberal Democrats lost 335 deposits at the general election held in that year.


Results

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 Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is ...
(
Bexley Bexley is an area of south-eastern Greater London Greater London is an Metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties of England, administrative area governed by the Greater London Authority, and a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial c ...
),
Jo Grimond Joseph Grimond, Baron Grimond, (; 29 July 1913 – 24 October 1993), known as Jo Grimond, was a British politician, leader of the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party for eleven years from 1956 to 1967 and again briefly on an interim basis in 197 ...
( Orkney and Shetland),
Enoch Powell John Enoch Powell (16 June 1912 – 8 February 1998) was a British politician, classical scholar, author, linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Commun ...
(Wolverhampton South West),
Reginald Maudling Reginald Maudling (7 March 1917 – 14 February 1979) was a British politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Gover ...
(
Barnet Barnet may refer to: People *Barnet (surname) *Barnet (given name) Places United Kingdom *Chipping Barnet or High Barnet, commonly known as Barnet, one of three focal towns of the borough below. *East Barnet, a district of the borough below; anci ...
) and
Iain Macleod Iain Norman Macleod (11 November 1913 – 20 July 1970) was a British Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) ...

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 Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) was the largest communist party A communist party is a political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is ...
.


Votes summary


Seats summary


See also

* List of MPs elected in the 1950 United Kingdom general election *
1950 United Kingdom general election in Northern Ireland The 1950 United Kingdom general election in Northern Ireland was held on 23 February as part of the wider 1950 United Kingdom general election, general election. The Representation of the People Act 1948 reorganised constituencies: all MPs wer ...


Notes


References


Sources

* * *


External links


United Kingdom election results—summary results 1885–1979


Manifestos



1950 Conservative Party manifesto

1950 Labour Party manifesto * ttps://web.archive.org/web/20110811195951/http://politicsresources.net/area/uk/man/lib50.htm ''No Easy Way: Britain's Problems and the Liberal Answers'' 1950 Liberal Party manifesto {{British elections General elections to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1950 1950 elections in the United Kingdom, General election Austerity in the United Kingdom (1939–1954) February 1950 events