2005 United Kingdom general election
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The 2005 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 5 May 2005, to elect 646 members to the House of Commons. The Labour Party, led by
Tony Blair Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He previously served as Leader of the ...
, won its third consecutive victory, with Blair becoming the second Labour leader after
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from October 1964 to June 1970, and again from March 1974 to April 1976. He ...
to form three majority governments. However, its
majority A majority, also called a simple majority or absolute majority to distinguish it from related terms, is more than half of the total.Dictionary definitions of ''majority'' aMerriam-Websterfour years before. This was the first time the Labour Party had won a third consecutive election, and remains the party's most recent general election victory. The Labour campaign emphasised a strong economy; however, Blair had suffered a decline in popularity, which was exacerbated by the decision to send British troops to invade Iraq in 2003. Despite this, Labour mostly retained its leads over the
Conservatives Conservatism is a cultural, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the culture and civilization in ...
in opinion polls on economic competence and leadership, and Conservative leaders
Iain Duncan Smith Sir George Iain Duncan Smith (born George Ian Duncan Smith; 9 April 1954), often referred to by his initials IDS, is a British politician who served as Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from 2001 to 2003. He was S ...
(2001–2003) and Michael Howard (2003–2005) struggled to capitalise on Blair's unpopularity, with the party consistently trailing behind Labour in the polls throughout the 2001–2005 parliament. The Conservatives campaigned on policies such as immigration limits, improving poorly managed hospitals, and reducing high crime rates. The Liberal Democrats, led by Charles Kennedy, were opposed to the Iraq War, given that there had been no second UN resolution, and collected votes from disenchanted Labour voters.
Tony Blair Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He previously served as Leader of the ...
was returned as
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary or semi-presidential system. Under those systems, a prime minister is ...
, with Labour having 355 MPs, but with a popular vote share of 35.2%, the smallest of any majority government in UK electoral history. In terms of votes, it was only narrowly ahead of the Conservatives, but still had a comfortable lead in terms of seats. The Conservatives returned 198 MPs, with 32 more seats than they had won at the previous general election, and won the popular vote in
England England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separated from continental Europe by t ...
, while still ending up with 91 fewer MPs in England than Labour. The Liberal Democrats saw their popular vote increase by 3.7% and won the most seats of any third party since
1923 Events January–February * January 9 – Lithuania begins the Klaipėda Revolt to annex the Klaipėda Region (Memel Territory). * January 11 – Despite strong British protests, troops from France and Belgium Occupation of the Ruhr, ...
, with 62 MPs. Anti-war activist and former Labour MP
George Galloway George Galloway (born 16 August 1954) is a British politician, broadcaster, and writer who is currently leader of the Workers Party of Britain, serving since 2019. Between 1987 and 2010, and then between 2012 and 2015, Galloway was a Member ...
was elected as the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow under the Respect – The Unity Coalition banner, unseating Oona King; Richard Taylor was re-elected for Kidderminster Health Concern in
Wyre Forest __NOTOC__ Wyre Forest is a large, semi-natural (partially unmanaged) woodland and forest measuring which straddles the borders of Worcestershire and Shropshire, England. Knowles Mill, a former corn mill owned by the National Trust, lies ...
; and independent candidate Peter Law was elected in Blaenau Gwent. This would be to date the last general election to be held where the winning political party would win a majority of the seats that were contested in all of the constituent countries of Great Britain (ie
England England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separated from continental Europe by t ...
,
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a border with England to the southeast and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the ...
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in ...
) at the same time. In
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is variously described as a country, province or region. Nort ...
, the
Ulster Unionist Party The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland. The party was founded in 1905, emerging from the Irish Unionist Alliance in Ulster. Under Edward Carson, it led unionist opposition to the Irish Home Rule move ...
, the more moderate of the main unionist parties, which had dominated Northern Irish politics since the 1920s, was reduced from six MPs to one, with party leader David Trimble himself being unseated. The more hardline
Democratic Unionist Party The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a unionist, loyalist, and national conservative political party in Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1971 during the Troubles by Ian Paisley, who led the party for the next 37 years. Currently led by ...
became the largest Northern Irish party, with nine MPs elected. Notable MPs leaving the House of Commons at this election included UUP leader David Trimble, former SDLP leader John Hume, former Cabinet ministers Estelle Morris, Paul Boateng, Chris Smith, Gillian Shephard, Virginia Bottomley and
Michael Portillo Michael Denzil Xavier Portillo (; born 26 May 1953) is a British journalist, broadcaster and former politician. His broadcast series include railway documentaries such as ''Great British Railway Journeys'' and '' Great Continental Railway Journ ...
, the Father of the House of Commons Tam Dalyell, Tony Banks and Sir Teddy Taylor, while Stephen Twigg lost his seat in Enfield Southgate back to the Conservatives. Following the election, Michael Howard conceded defeat, resigned as Conservative leader and was succeeded by future Prime Minister David Cameron. Blair resigned as both Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party in June 2007, and was replaced by then-
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of His Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Great Offices of State, the Chancellor is ...
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Tony Bl ...
. The election results were broadcast live on the BBC and presented by
Peter Snow Peter John Snow (born 20 April 1938) is a British radio and television presenter and historian. Between 1969 and 2005, he was an analyst of general election results, first on ITV and later for the BBC. He presented ''Newsnight'' from its l ...
, David Dimbleby, Tony King,
Jeremy Paxman Jeremy Dickson Paxman (born 11 May 1950) is an English broadcaster, journalist, author, and television presenter. Born in Leeds, Paxman was educated at Malvern College and St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he edited the undergraduate new ...
, and
Andrew Marr Andrew William Stevenson Marr (born 31 July 1959) is a British journalist and broadcaster. Beginning his career as a political commentator, he subsequently edited ''The Independent'' newspaper from 1996 to 1998 and was political editor of BBC N ...
.


Overview

The governing Labour Party, led by
Tony Blair Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He previously served as Leader of the ...
, was looking to secure a third consecutive term in office and to retain a large majority. The
Conservative Party The Conservative Party is a name used by many political parties around the world. These political parties are generally right-wing though their exact ideologies can range from center-right to far-right. Political parties called The Conservative Pa ...
was seeking to regain seats lost to both Labour and the Liberal Democrats since the 1992 general election, and move from being the Official Opposition into government. The Liberal Democrats hoped to make gains from both main parties, but especially the Conservative Party, with a "decapitation" strategy targeting members of the Shadow Cabinet. The Lib Dems had also wished to become the governing party, or to make enough gains to become the Official Opposition, but more realistically hoped to play a major part in a parliament led by a minority Labour or Conservative government. In Northern Ireland the
Democratic Unionist Party The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is a unionist, loyalist, and national conservative political party in Northern Ireland. It was founded in 1971 during the Troubles by Ian Paisley, who led the party for the next 37 years. Currently led by ...
sought to make further gains from the
Ulster Unionist Party The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland. The party was founded in 1905, emerging from the Irish Unionist Alliance in Ulster. Under Edward Carson, it led unionist opposition to the Irish Home Rule move ...
in unionist politics, and
Sinn Féin Sinn Féin ( , ; en, " eOurselves") is an Irish republican and democratic socialist political party active throughout both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The original Sinn Féin organisation was founded in 1905 by Arthur Gr ...
hoped to overtake the
Social Democratic and Labour Party The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) ( ga, Páirtí Sóisialta Daonlathach an Lucht Oibre) is a social-democratic and Irish nationalist political party in Northern Ireland. The SDLP currently has eight members in the Northern Ireland ...
in nationalist politics. (Note that Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats in the House of Commons—they follow a policy of
abstentionism Abstentionism is standing for election to a deliberative assembly while refusing to take up any seats won or otherwise participate in the assembly's business. Abstentionism differs from an election boycott in that abstentionists participate in ...
.) The pro-
independence Independence is a condition of a person, nation, country, or state in which residents and population, or some portion thereof, exercise self-government, and usually sovereignty, over its territory. The opposite of independence is the statu ...
Scottish National Party The Scottish National Party (SNP; sco, Scots National Pairty, gd, Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba ) is a Scottish nationalist and social democratic political party in Scotland. The SNP supports and campaigns for Scottish independence from th ...
and
Plaid Cymru Plaid Cymru ( ; ; officially Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales, often referred to simply as Plaid) is a centre-left to left-wing, Welsh nationalist political party in Wales, committed to Welsh independence from the United Kingdom. Plaid was ...
(Party of Wales) stood candidates in every constituency in
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a border with England to the southeast and is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the ...
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in ...
respectively. Many seats were contested by other parties, including several parties without incumbents in the House of Commons. Parties that were not represented at Westminster, but had seats in the devolved assemblies and/or the European Parliament, included the
Alliance Party of Northern Ireland The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), or simply Alliance, is a liberal and centrist political party in Northern Ireland. As of the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election, it is the third-largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembl ...
, the
UK Independence Party The UK Independence Party (UKIP; ) is a Eurosceptic, right-wing populist political party in the United Kingdom. The party reached its greatest level of success in the mid-2010s, when it gained two members of Parliament and was the largest ...
, the
Green Party of England and Wales The Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW; cy, Plaid Werdd Cymru a Lloegr, kw, Party Gwer Pow an Sowson ha Kembra, often simply the Green Party or Greens) is a green, left-wing political party in England and Wales. Since October 2021, Carl ...
, the Scottish Green Party, and the Scottish Socialist Party. The Health Concern party also stood again. A full list of parties which declared their intention to run can be found on the list of parties contesting the 2005 general election. All parties campaigned using such tools as party
manifesto A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus or promotes a ...
s, party political broadcasts and touring the country in what are commonly referred to as battle buses. Local elections in parts of
England England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separated from continental Europe by t ...
and in
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label= Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is variously described as a country, province or region. Nort ...
were held on the same day. The polls were open for fifteen hours, from 07:00 to 22:00 BST (
UTC+1 UTC+01:00 is an identifier for a time offset from UTC of +01:00. In ISO 8601, the associated time would be written as 2019-02-07T23:28:34+01:00. This time is used in: *Central European Time *West Africa Time *Western European Summer Time **Br ...
). The election came just over three weeks after the
dissolution of Parliament The dissolution of a legislative assembly is the mandatory simultaneous resignation of all of its members, in anticipation that a successive legislative assembly will reconvene later with possibly different members. In a democracy, the new assemb ...
on 11 April by
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until her death in 2022. She was queen regnant of 32 sovereign states during ...
, at the request of the
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary or semi-presidential system. Under those systems, a prime minister is ...
,
Tony Blair Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He previously served as Leader of the ...
.


Campaign

Following the death of
Pope John Paul II Pope John Paul II ( la, Ioannes Paulus II; it, Giovanni Paolo II; pl, Jan Paweł II; born Karol Józef Wojtyła ; 18 May 19202 April 2005) was the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 1978 until his ...
on 2 April, it was announced that the calling of the election would be delayed until 5 April. Thanks to eight years of sustained economic growth Labour could point to a strong economy, with greater investment in public services such as education and health. This was overshadowed, however, by the issue of the controversial
2003 invasion of Iraq The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a United States-led invasion of the Republic of Iraq and the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground) and lasted just over one month, including 26 ...
, which met widespread public criticism at the time, and would dog Blair throughout the campaign. The Chancellor,
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Tony Bl ...
, played a prominent role in the election campaign, frequently appearing with Blair and ensuring that the economy would remain the central focus of Labour's message. Recently elected Conservative leader Michael Howard brought a great level of experience and stability to a party that had ousted its former leader
Iain Duncan Smith Sir George Iain Duncan Smith (born George Ian Duncan Smith; 9 April 1954), often referred to by his initials IDS, is a British politician who served as Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from 2001 to 2003. He was S ...
just 18 months prior. The Conservative campaign was managed by Australian strategist Lynton Crosby. The campaign focused on more traditional conservative issues like immigration, which created some controversy with the slogan "It's not racist to impose limits on immigration". They also criticised Labour's "dirty" hospitals and high crime levels, under the umbrella of the slogan "Are you thinking what we're thinking?" However, Labour counter-attacked, by emphasising Howard's role in the unpopular Major Government of 1992–1997, airing a party election broadcast attacking Howard, showing a montage of scenes from Howard's tenure as
Home Secretary The secretary of state for the Home Department, otherwise known as the home secretary, is a senior minister of the Crown in the Government of the United Kingdom. The home secretary leads the Home Office, and is responsible for all national ...
, including prison riots and home repossessions. It also launched a billboard campaign showing Howard, and the Conservative Party's four previous leaders (
Iain Duncan Smith Sir George Iain Duncan Smith (born George Ian Duncan Smith; 9 April 1954), often referred to by his initials IDS, is a British politician who served as Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from 2001 to 2003. He was S ...
,
William Hague William is a male given name of Germanic origin.Hanks, Hardcastle and Hodges, ''Oxford Dictionary of First Names'', Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, , p. 276. It became very popular in the English language after the Norman conquest of Eng ...
,
John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997, and as Member of Parliament (MP) for Huntingdon, formerly Huntin ...
and
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. She was the first female British prime ...
), with the caption "Britain's working, don't let the Tories wreck it again." For the Liberal Democrats, this was the second and final election campaign fought by leader Charles Kennedy, who strongly opposed the Iraq War and personally offered a more down-to-earth approach to voters, which proved popular. There were some questions, however, over Kennedy's abilities when, at the Liberal Democrat manifesto launch, he was asked about local income tax, but appeared confused on the figures. Both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives were keen to tackle Labour's introduction of tuition fees, which both opposition parties opposed and promised to abolish.


Ballot

At the close of voting (2200 BST) the ballot boxes were sealed and returned to the counting centres, where counting proceeded under the supervision of the returning officer who was obliged to declare the result as soon as it was known. As previously, there was serious competition amongst constituencies to be first to declare. Sunderland South repeated its performance in the last three elections and declared Labour incumbent
Chris Mullin Christopher Paul Mullin (born July 30, 1963) is an American former professional basketball player, executive and coach. He is a two-time Olympic Gold medalist and a two-time Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (in 2010 as a memb ...
re-elected as MP with a majority of 11,059 at approximately 2245 BST (failing by two minutes to beat its previous best, but making it eligible for entry into the
Guinness Book of World Records ''Guinness World Records'', known from its inception in 1955 until 1999 as ''The Guinness Book of Records'' and in previous United States editions as ''The Guinness Book of World Records'', is a reference book published annually, listing world ...
as longest consecutive delivery of first results). The vote itself represented a swing (in a safe Labour seat, in a safe Labour region) of about 4% to the Conservatives and 4.5% to the Liberal Democrats, somewhat below the prediction of BBC/ITV exit polls published shortly after 2200 BST. Sunderland North was the next to declare, followed by
Houghton and Washington East Houghton and Washington East was, from 1997 until 2010, a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elected one Member of Parliament (MP) by the first past the post system of election. A seat ...
, both of whose Labour MPs retained their seats but with reductions in the incumbent majorities of up to 9%. The first Scottish seat to declare was Rutherglen and Hamilton West — another safe Labour seat, also a Labour hold, but with the majority reduced by 4%. The first seat to change hands was
Putney Putney () is a district of southwest London, England, in the London Borough of Wandsworth, southwest of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London. History Putney is an ancient paris ...
, where Labour's majority of 2,771 fell to a strong Conservative challenge, with a total swing of about 5,000 (6.2%). This was also the first seat to be declared for the Conservatives. The first Liberal Democrat seat to be declared was North East Fife, the constituency of Lib Dem deputy leader Sir Menzies Campbell which he had held since
1987 File:1987 Events Collage.png, From top left, clockwise: The MS Herald of Free Enterprise capsizes after leaving the Port of Zeebrugge in Belgium, killing 193; Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashes after takeoff from Detroit Metropolitan Airport ...
. The constituency of Crawley in West Sussex had the slimmest majority of any seat, with
Labour Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth, the delivery of a baby * Labour (human activity), or work ** Manual labour, physical work ** Wage labour, a socioeconomic relationship between a worker and an employer ** Organized labour and the labou ...
's Laura Moffatt holding off the
Conservatives Conservatism is a cultural, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the culture and civilization in ...
' Henry Smith by 37 votes after three recounts.


Polling

Following problems with
exit poll An election exit poll is a poll of voters taken immediately after they have exited the polling stations. A similar poll conducted before actual voters have voted is called an entrance poll. Pollsters – usually private companies working for ...
s in previous British elections, the BBC and ITV agreed for the first time to pool their respective data, using results from Mori and NOP. More than 20,000 people were interviewed for the poll at 120 polling stations across the country. The predictions were very accurate—initial projections saw Labour returned to power with a majority of 66 (down from 160), and the final result (including South Staffordshire, where the election was postponed due to the death of a candidate) was indeed a Labour majority of 66. The projected shares of the vote in Great Britain were Labour 35% (down 6% on 2001), Conservatives 33% (up 1%), Liberal Democrats 22% (up 4%) and other parties 8% (up 1%). The Conservatives were expected to make the biggest gains, however — 44 seats according to the exit poll — with the Liberal Democrats expected to take as few as two. Whilst the Lib Dems' vote share predicted by the exit poll was accurate (22.6% compared to the actual 22.0%), they did better in some Lib Dem-Labour marginals than predicted on the basis of the national share of the vote, and achieved a net gain of 11 seats.


2001 notional result

There were major boundary changes in Scotland, where the number of seats were reduced from 72 to 59. As a result of this each party lost some seats, and this notional election result below is based on the 2001 election results if they had been fought on these new 2005 boundaries.


Results

At 04:28 BST, it was announced that Labour had won
Corby Corby is a town in North Northamptonshire, England, located north-east of Northampton. From 1974 to 2021, the town served as the administrative headquarters of the Borough of Corby. At the 2011 Census, the built-up area had a population of ...
, giving them 324 seats in the House of Commons out of those then declared and an overall majority, Labour's total reaching 355 seats out of the 646 House of Commons seats. Labour received 35.3% of the popular vote, equating to approximately 22% of the electorate on a 61.3% turnout, up from 59.4% turnout in 2001. As expected, voter disenchantment led to an increase of support for many opposition parties, and caused many eligible to vote, not to turn out. Labour achieved a third successive term in office for the first time in their history, though with reduction of the Labour majority from 167 to 67 (as it was before the declaration of South Staffordshire). As it became clear that Labour had won an overall majority, Michael Howard, the leader of the Conservative Party, announced his intention to retire from frontline politics. The final seat to declare was the delayed poll in South Staffordshire, at just after 1 a.m. on Friday 24 June. The election was followed by further criticism of the UK electoral system. Calls for reform came particularly from Lib Dem supporters, citing that they received only just over 10% of the overall seats with 22.1% of the popular vote. The only parties to win a substantially higher percentage of seats than they achieved in votes were Labour, the Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Féin, and Health Concern, which ran only one candidate. The results of the election give a Gallagher index of dis-proportionality of 16.76. The Labour Government claimed that being returned to office for a third term for the first time ever showed the public approval of
Labour Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth, the delivery of a baby * Labour (human activity), or work ** Manual labour, physical work ** Wage labour, a socioeconomic relationship between a worker and an employer ** Organized labour and the labou ...
's governance and the continued unpopularity of the Conservatives. Nevertheless, Labour's vote declined to 35.3%, the lowest share of the popular vote to have formed a majority government in the history of the UK House of Commons. In many areas the collapse in the Labour vote resulted in a host of seats changing hands. Labour also failed to gain any new seats, almost unique in any election since 1945. As well as losing seats to the Tories and the Liberal Democrats, Labour also lost Blaenau Gwent, its safest seat in Wales, to Independent Peter Law, and Bethnal Green and Bow to Respect candidate
George Galloway George Galloway (born 16 August 1954) is a British politician, broadcaster, and writer who is currently leader of the Workers Party of Britain, serving since 2019. Between 1987 and 2010, and then between 2012 and 2015, Galloway was a Member ...
. The Conservatives claimed that their increased number of seats showed disenchantment with the Labour government and was a precursor of a Conservative breakthrough at the next election. Following three consecutive elections of declining representation and then in 2001 a net gain of just one seat, 2005 was the first general election since their famous
1983 The year 1983 saw both the official beginning of the Internet and the first mobile cellular telephone call. Events January * January 1 – The migration of the ARPANET to Internet protocol suite, TCP/IP is officially completed (this is consid ...
landslide victory A landslide victory is an election result in which the victorious candidate or party wins by an overwhelming margin. The term became popular in the 1800s to describe a victory in which the opposition is "buried", similar to the way in which a geol ...
where the number of Conservative seats increased appreciably, although the Conservatives' vote share increased only slightly and this election did mark the third successive general election in which the Conservatives polled below 35%. In some areas the Conservative vote actually fell. The Conservatives claimed to have won the general election in England, since they received more votes than Labour although Labour still won a majority of seats. The Liberal Democrats claimed that their continued gradual increase in seats and percentage vote showed they were in a position to make further gains from both parties. They pointed in particular to the fact that they were now in second place in roughly one hundred and ninety constituencies and that having had net losses to Labour in the 1992 general election and having not taken a single seat off Labour in 1997, they had held their gains off Labour from the 2001 general election and had actually made further gains from them. The Liberal Democrats also managed to take three seats from the Conservatives, one notable victory being that of
Tim Farron Timothy James Farron (born 27 May 1970) is a British politician who served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2015 to 2017. He has also served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005, before which he worked in ...
over Tim Collins in Westmorland and Lonsdale, through the use of a "decapitation strategy", which targeted senior Tories. The Liberal Democrats increased their percentage of the vote by 3.7%, the Conservatives by 0.6%, and Labour's dropped by 5.4%. The UK media interpreted the results as an indicator of a breakdown in trust in the government, and especially in Prime Minister
Tony Blair Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He previously served as Leader of the ...
. Meanwhile, the
Scottish National Party The Scottish National Party (SNP; sco, Scots National Pairty, gd, Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba ) is a Scottish nationalist and social democratic political party in Scotland. The SNP supports and campaigns for Scottish independence from th ...
improved its position in Scotland, regaining the
Western Isles The Outer Hebrides () or Western Isles ( gd, Na h-Eileanan Siar or or ("islands of the strangers"); sco, Waster Isles), sometimes known as the Long Isle/Long Island ( gd, An t-Eilean Fada, links=no), is an island chain off the west coas ...
and Dundee East from Labour, having lost both seats in 1987. In Wales Plaid Cymru failed to gain any seats and lost
Ceredigion Ceredigion ( , , ) is a county in the west of Wales, corresponding to the historic county of Cardiganshire. During the second half of the first millennium Ceredigion was a minor kingdom. It has been administered as a county since 1282. Cer ...
to the Liberal Democrats. In Northern Ireland the Ulster Unionists were all but wiped out, only keeping North Down, with leader David Trimble losing his seat in Upper Bann. For the first time the DUP became the biggest party in Northern Ireland. It was the first general election since 1929 in which no party received more than ten million votes. It was the most "three-cornered" election since
1923 Events January–February * January 9 – Lithuania begins the Klaipėda Revolt to annex the Klaipėda Region (Memel Territory). * January 11 – Despite strong British protests, troops from France and Belgium Occupation of the Ruhr, ...
, though the Liberal Democrats failed to match the higher national votes of the SDP–Liberal Alliance in the 1980s either in absolute or percentage terms. The total combined vote for Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats proved to be the lowest main three-party vote since
1922 Events January * January 7 – Dáil Éireann, the parliament of the Irish Republic, ratifies the Anglo-Irish Treaty by 64–57 votes. * January 10 – Arthur Griffith is elected President of Dáil Éireann, the day after Éamon de Val ...
. The figure of 355 seats for Labour does not include the Speaker Michael Martin. See also the list of parties standing in Northern Ireland.


MPs who lost their seats


Post-election events


Formation of government

Following the election, Labour remained in power with
Tony Blair Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He previously served as Leader of the ...
remaining as
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary or semi-presidential system. Under those systems, a prime minister is ...
. The morning after the election, Blair travelled to
Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace () is a London royal residence and the administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. It ...
to inform
The Queen In the English-speaking world, The Queen most commonly refers to: * Elizabeth II (1926–2022), Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 1952 until her death The Queen may also refer to: * Camilla, Queen Consort (born 1947), ...
of the election result and to receive permission to form a government, consequently beginning his third term as Prime Minister. Blair reshuffled his Cabinet and junior ministers over the following weekend, with formal announcements made on 9 May 2005. The most senior positions of
Chancellor Chancellor ( la, cancellarius) is a title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the of Roman courts of justice—ushers, who sat at the or lattice work screens of a basilica or law cou ...
,
Home Secretary The secretary of state for the Home Department, otherwise known as the home secretary, is a senior minister of the Crown in the Government of the United Kingdom. The home secretary leads the Home Office, and is responsible for all national ...
and
Foreign Secretary The secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs, known as the foreign secretary, is a minister of the Crown of the Government of the United Kingdom and head of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Seen as ...
remained the same (
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Tony Bl ...
, Charles Clarke and
Jack Straw John Whitaker Straw (born 3 August 1946) is a British politician who served in the Cabinet from 1997 to 2010 under the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He held two of the traditional Great Offices of State, as Home Secretary ...
respectively), but a few new faces were added. Most notably,
David Blunkett David Blunkett, Baron Blunkett, (born 6 June 1947) is a British Labour Party politician who has been a Member of the House of Lords since 2015, and previously served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough ...
returned to cabinet as the
Work and Pensions Secretary The secretary of state for work and pensions, also referred to as the work and pensions secretary, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for the business of the Department for Work and ...
, although he was forced to resign again due to another scandal before the end of the year that spawned a national press and opposition campaign for his dismissal. Patricia Hewitt became the new Health Secretary,
Tessa Jowell Tessa Jane Helen Douglas Jowell, Baroness Jowell, (; 18 September 1947 – 12 May 2018) was a British Labour Party politician and life peer who served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dulwich and West Norwood, previously Dulwich, from 19 ...
remained as Culture Secretary, whilst Alan Johnson was promoted to Trade and Industry Secretary. Meanwhile, Ruth Kelly retained the
Education Education is a purposeful activity directed at achieving certain aims, such as transmitting knowledge or fostering skills and character traits. These aims may include the development of understanding, rationality, kindness, and honesty. Va ...
job and Margaret Beckett stayed put at
Environment Environment most often refers to: __NOTOC__ * Natural environment, all living and non-living things occurring naturally * Biophysical environment, the physical and biological factors along with their chemical interactions that affect an organism or ...
. The new Parliament met on 11 May for the election of the Speaker of the House of Commons.


New party leaders

On 6 May, Michael Howard announced he would be standing down as leader of the Conservative Party, but not before a review of the leadership rules. The formal leadership election began in October, and was ultimately won by David Cameron. On 7 May, David Trimble resigned as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party; Sir Reg Empey was elected as his successor at an Ulster Unionist Council meeting on 24 June.


End of the term

Blair's successor as
Prime Minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary or semi-presidential system. Under those systems, a prime minister is ...
,
Gordon Brown James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 to 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in Tony Bl ...
(who came to office on 27 June 2007), visited
Buckingham Palace Buckingham Palace () is a London royal residence and the administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. It ...
on 6 April 2010 and asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament on 12 April. The next election was held on 6 May 2010.Gordon Brown calls 6 May general election
– BBC News, 6 April 2010


Further reading

* John Bartle and Anthony King, eds. ''Britain at the Polls 2005'' (2005
excerpt and text search
* Andrew Geddes and Jonathan Tonge, eds. ''Britain decides: the UK general election 2005'' (2005) 311 pages * Dennis Kavanagh and David Butler, eds. ''The British General Election of 2005'' (2006) essays by political scientists


See also

* List of MPs elected in the 2005 United Kingdom general election * 2005 United Kingdom general election in England * 2005 United Kingdom general election in Scotland * 2005 United Kingdom general election in Wales * 2005 United Kingdom general election in Northern Ireland * List of MPs for constituencies in England (2005–2010) * List of MPs for constituencies in Northern Ireland (2005–2010) * List of MPs for constituencies in Scotland (2005–2010) * List of MPs for constituencies in Wales (2005–2010) * 2005 United Kingdom local elections * Results of the 2005 United Kingdom general election * Results breakdown of the 2005 United Kingdom general election


References


External links

*
NSD: European Election * http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/ifs_news/hi/uk_news/politics/vote_2005/default.stm Database – UK


Manifestos

;Main parties
''Are You Thinking What We're Thinking?'', Conservative Party

''Britain forward, not back'', Labour Party

''The REAL alternative'', Liberal Democrats
;Smaller parties which won seats
''Leadership That's Working'', Democratic Unionist Party

''We can build a better Wales'', Plaid Cymru

''Peace Justice Equality'', Respect Party

''Let's Make Scotland Matter'', Scottish National Party

''2005 Westminster Election Manifesto'', Sinn Féin

''SDLP Manifesto 2005'', Social Democratic and Labour Party

''Ulster Unionist Manifesto 2005'', Ulster Unionist Party
;Other parties
''Alliance Works: Working for You at Westminster'', Alliance Party of Northern Ireland

''Rebuilding British Democracy'', British National Party

''The Real Choice For Real Change'', Green Party of England and Wales

''The 2005 Manifesto'', Liberal Party

''People, Planet, Peace'', Scottish Green Party

''SSP Manifesto 2005'', Scottish Socialist Party

''Programme For A Socialist Britain'', Socialist Labour Party

''We Want Our Country Back'', UK Independence Party

''Manifesto General Election 2005'', Veritas
{{New Labour 2005 * May 2005 events in the United Kingdom Tony Blair