* Indicates boundary change – so this is a nominal figure ^ Figure does not include the speaker
PRIME MINISTER BEFORE ELECTION
* 1987 election * MPs
* 1992 election * MPs
* 1997 election * MPs
* 2001 election * MPs
* 2005 election * MPs
Seats won in the election (outer ring) against number of votes (inner ring).
The UNITED KINGDOM GENERAL ELECTION OF 1997 was held on Thursday 1
May 1997, five years after the previous election on Thursday 9 April
1992, to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons . Under the
The election saw a huge 10.2% swing from the Conservatives to Labour on a national turnout of 71% and would be the last national vote where turnout exceeded 70% until the 2016 EU referendum was held nineteen years later. Blair, as a result, became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom , a position he held until his resignation on 27 June 2007.
Under Blair's leadership, the Labour Party had adopted a more
centrist policy platform under the name '
The Labour campaign was ultimately a success and the party returned an unprecedented 418 MPs and began the first of three consecutive terms for Labour in government. However, 1997 was the last election in which Labour had a net gain of seats until 2017 . A record number of women were elected to parliament, 120, of whom 101 were Labour MPs. This was in part thanks to Labour's policy of using all-women shortlists .
The Conservative Party was led by incumbent Prime Minister John Major
and ran their campaign emphasising falling unemployment and a strong
economic recovery following the early 1990s recession . However, a
series of scandals , party disunity over the
The party was left with no seats whatsoever in
However, future Prime Minister
The Liberal Democrats , under
* 1 Overview * 2 Loss of parliamentary majority * 3 Timing
* 4 Campaign
* 4.1 Conservative campaign * 4.2 Labour campaign * 4.3 Liberal Democrat campaign
* 5 Notional 1992 results
* 6 Results
* 6.1 Results by constituent country
* 7 Defeated MPs
* 7.1 Conservative Ministers who lost their seats
* 7.2 Other Conservative MPs who lost their seats
* 7.3 Liberal Democrats who lost their seats
* 7.4 Social and Democratic Labour Party MP who lost his seat
* 7.5 Democratic Unionist MP who lost his seat
* 8 Post election events * 9 Internet coverage * 10 See also * 11 References
* 12 Further reading
* 12.1 Manifestos
* 13 External links
The British economy had been in recession at the time of the 1992
election, which the Conservatives had won, and although the recession
had ended within a year, events such as
Blair brought the party closer to the political centre and abolished
* Class sizes to be cut to 30 or under for 5, 6 and 7 year olds by
using money from the assisted places scheme.
* Fast track punishment for persistent young offenders, by halving
the time from arrest to sentencing.
* Cut NHS waiting lists by treating an extra 100,000 patients as a
first step by releasing £100 million saved from NHS red tape.
* Get 250,000 under 25 year olds off benefit and into work by using
money from a windfall levy on the privatised utilities.
* No rise in income tax rates, cut
Disputes within the Conservative government over European Union issues, and a variety of "sleaze" allegations had severely affected the government's popularity. Despite the strong economic recovery and substantial fall in unemployment in the four years leading up to the election, the rise in Conservative support was only marginal with all of the major opinion polls having shown Labour in a comfortable lead since late 1992.
LOSS OF PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY
Following the 1992 General Election, the Conservatives held government with 336 of the 651 House of Commons seats. Through a series of defections and by-election defeats, the Conservative government gradually lost its absolute majority in the House of Commons. By 1997, the Conservatives held only 324 House of Commons seats.
1993 Judith Chaplin (Newbury) died, by-election won by Liberal
1993 Robert Adley (ChristChurch) died, by-election won by Liberal
1994 Stephen Milligan (Eastleigh) died, by-election won by Liberal
1994 John Blackburn (Dudley West) died, by-election won by Labour.
1995 Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross) died, by-election won
by Scottish National Party.
1995 Geoffrey Dickens (Littleborough and Saddleworth) died,
by-election won by Liberal Democrats.
1995 Alan Howarth (Stratford-on-Avon) defected from Conservative to
1995 Emma Nicholson (Devon West and Torridge) defected from
Conservatives to Liberal Democrats.
1996 Sir David Lightbown (South East Staffordshire) died, by-election
won by Labour.
1996 Peter Thurnham (Bolton North East) defected from Conservatives
to Liberal Democrats.
1996 Barry Porter (Wirral South) died, by-election won by Labour.
1997 George Gardiner (Reigate) defected from Conservatives to
The previous Parliament first sat on 29 April 1992. The Parliament Act 1911 required at the time for each Parliament to be dissolved before the fifth anniversary of its first sitting, therefore the latest date the dissolution and the summoning of the next parliament could have been held on was 28 April 1997.
The 1985 amendment of the Representation of the People Act 1983 required that the election must take place on the eleventh working day after the deadline for nomination papers, which in turn must be no more than six working days after the next parliament was summoned.
Therefore, the latest date the election could have been held on was 22 May 1997 (which happened to be a Thursday). British elections (and referendums ) have been held on Thursdays by convention since the 1930s, but can be held on other working days.
The Conservatives argued that a long campaign would expose Labour and allow the Conservative message to be heard. However, Major was accused of arranging an early dissolution to protect Neil Hamilton from a pending parliamentary report into his conduct: a report that Major had earlier guaranteed would be published before the election.
In March 1997, soon after the election was called,
The Conservatives started low in the polls, and had experienced great
difficulties over the past 5 years, with polling often putting it some
40 points adrift of Labour. Major hoped that a long campaign would
expose Labour's "hollowness" and the Conservative campaign emphasised
stability, as did its manifesto title 'You can only be sure with the
Conservatives'. However, the campaign was beset by deep set problems,
such as the rise of
The Party threatened to take away many right leaning voters from the Conservatives. Furthermore, about 200 candidates broke with official Conservative policy to oppose British membership of the single European currency . Major fought back, saying: "Whether you agree with me or disagree with me; like me or loathe me, don't bind my hands when I am negotiating on behalf of the British nation." The moment is remembered as one of the defining, and most surreal, moments of the election.
Meanwhile, there was also division amongst the Conservative cabinet,
New Labour, New Danger
Labour ran a slick campaign, which emphasised the splits within the
Conservative government, and argued that the country needed a more
centrist administration. Labour ran a centrist campaign that was good
at picking up dissatisfied Tory voters, particularly moderate and
The Labour campaign was reminiscent of those of
LIBERAL DEMOCRAT CAMPAIGN
The Liberal Democrats had suffered a disappointing performance in 1992, but they were very much strengthened in 1997 due to potential tactical voting between Labour and Lib Dem supporters in Tory marginal constituencies, particularly in the south - particularly given their share of the vote decreased while their number of seats nearly doubled. The Lib Dems promised to increase education funding paid for by a 1p increase in income tax.
NOTIONAL 1992 RESULTS
The election was fought under new boundaries, with a net increase of eight seats compared to the 1992 election (651 to 659). Changes listed here are from the notional 1992 result, had it been fought on the boundaries established in 1997. These notional results were calculated by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher and were used by all media organisations at the time. The notional results of the 1992 election, as shown on a map of the 1997 constituencies.
UK GENERAL ELECTION 1992
PARTY SEATS GAINS LOSSES NET GAIN/LOSS SEATS % VOTES % VOTES +/−
Labour 273 17 15 +2 41.6 34.4 11,560,484
Conservative 343 28 21 +7 52.1 41.9 14,093,007
Liberal Democrat 18 0 2 −2 2.7 17.8 5,999,384
Others 25 1 0 +1 3.6 5.9
Labour won a landslide victory with their largest parliamentary majority (179) to date. On the BBC's election night programme Professor Anthony King described the result of the exit poll, which accurately predicted a Labour landslide, as being akin to "an asteroid hitting the planet and destroying practically all life on Earth". After years of trying the Labour Party had convinced the electorate that they would usher in a new age of prosperity—their policies, organisation and tone of optimism slotting perfectly into place.
Labour's victory was largely credited to the charisma of Tony Blair
and a Labour public relations machine managed by
The election was a crushing defeat for the Conservative Party, with
the party having its lowest percentage share of the popular vote since
1832 under the Duke of Wellington 's leadership, being wiped out in
The Liberal Democrats more than doubled their number of seats thanks
to the use of tactical voting against the Conservatives. Although
their share of the vote fell slightly, their total of 46 MPs was the
highest for any UK Liberal party since
David Lloyd George
In the previously safe seat of Tatton , where incumbent Conservative MP Neil Hamilton was facing charges of having taken cash for questions , the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties decided not to field candidates in order that an independent candidate, Martin Bell , would have a better chance of winning the seat, which he did with a comfortable margin.
The result declared for the constituency of Winchester showed a margin of victory of just two votes for the Liberal Democrats. The defeated Conservative candidate mounted a successful legal challenge to the result on the grounds that errors by election officials (failures to stamp certain votes) had changed the result; the court ruled the result invalid and ordered a by-election on 20 November which was won by the Liberal Democrats with a much larger majority, causing much recrimination in the Conservative Party about the decision to challenge the original result in the first place.
This election marked the start of Labour government for the next 13 years, until the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010.
↓ 418 165 46 30
LABOUR CONSERVATIVE LIB DEM O
UK General Election 1997
PARTY LEADER STANDING ELECTED GAINED UNSEATED NET % OF TOTAL % NO. NET %
2.6 811,849 N/A
UKIP Alan Sked 193 0 0 0 0
0.3 105,722 N/A
Independent N/A 25 1 1 0 +1 0.2 0.1 64,482 0.0
Green Peg Alexander and David Taylor 89 0 0 0 0
0.3 61,731 –0.2
Alliance John Alderdice 17 0 0 0 0
0.2 62,972 0.0
0.2 52,109 N/A
0.1 45,166 –0.1
BNP John Tyndall 57 0 0 0 0
0.1 35,832 0.0
Natural Law Geoffrey Clements 197 0 0 0 0
0.1 30,604 –0.1
ProLife Alliance Bruno Quintavalle 56 0 0 0 0
0.1 19,332 N/A
UK Unionist Robert McCartney 1 1 1 0 +1 0.2 0.0 12,817 N/A
PUP Hugh Smyth 3 0 0 0 0
0.0 10,928 N/A
National Democrats Ian Anderson 21 0 0 0 0
0.0 10,829 N/A
Socialist Alternative Peter Taaffe
0 0 0 0
0.0 9,906 N/A
Scottish Socialist Tommy Sheridan 16 0 0 0 0
0.0 9,740 N/A
Independent Labour N/A 4 0 0 0 0
0.0 9,233 – 0.1
Independent Conservative N/A 4 0 0 0 0
0.0 8,608 –0.1
Monster Raving Loony
Screaming Lord Sutch
0.0 7,906 –0.1
Rainbow Dream Ticket Rainbow George Weiss 29 0 0 0 0
0.0 3,745 N/A
0.0 3,024 N/A
Workers\' Party Tom French 8 0 0 0 0
0.0 2,766 –0.1
National Front John McAuley 6 0 0 0 0
0.0 2,716 N/A
0.0 2,085 N/A
People\'s Labour Jim Hamezian 1 0 0 0 0
0.0 1,995 N/A
0.0 1,906 N/A
Scottish Green Robin Harper 5 0 0 0 0
0.0 1,434 N/A
Socialist (GB) None 5 0 0 0 0
0.0 1,359 N/A
Community Representative Ralph Knight 1 0 0 0 0
0.0 1,290 N/A
1 0 0 0 0
0.0 1,263 N/A
Social Democratic John Bates 2 0 0 0 0
0.0 1,246 –0.1
Workers Revolutionary Sheila Torrance 9 0 0 0 0
0.0 1,178 N/A
Real Labour N/A 1 0 0 0 0
0.0 1,117 N/A
Independent Democratic N/A
0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
Communist Mike Hicks 3 0 0 0 0
Independent Green N/A 1 0 0 0 0
1 0 0 0 0
Socialist Equality Davy Hyland 3 0 0 0 0
All parties with more than 500 votes shown. Labour total includes New Labour and "Labour Time for Change" candidates; Conservative total includes candidates in Northern Ireland (excluded in some lists) and "Loyal Conservative" candidate.
The Popular Unionist MP elected in 1992 died in 1995 and the party folded shortly afterwards.
There was no incumbent Speaker in the 1992 election.
GOVERNMENT\'S NEW MAJORITY 179
Total votes cast 31,286,284
Liberal Democrat 16.8%
Scottish National 2.0%
Liberal Democrat 7.0%
Scottish National 0.9%
Ulster Unionist 1.5%
The disproportionality of the house of parliament in the 1997 election was 16.71 according to the Gallagher Index , mainly between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
RESULTS BY CONSTITUENT COUNTRY
LAB CON LD SNP PC NI PARTIES OTHERS TOTAL
England 328 165 34 - - - 2 529
Wales 34 - 2 - 4 - - 40
Scotland 56 - 10 6 - - - 72
Northern Ireland - - - - - 18 - 18
Total 418 165 46 6 4 18 2 (inc Speaker) 659
CONSERVATIVE MINISTERS WHO LOST THEIR SEATS
* Tony Newton (Braintree ) -
Lord President of the Council
OTHER CONSERVATIVE MPS WHO LOST THEIR SEATS
Constituencies given are those contested in 1997, rather than those held prior to the election - Norman Lamont, for example, had previously represented Kingston upon Thames in London.
Angela Rumbold (Mitcham and Morden ) - Deputy Chairman of the
* ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/202525.stm * ^ “”. "BBC Vote \'97 Election coverage". YouTube. Retrieved 9 December 2010. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link ) * ^ "1997: Labour landslide ends Tory rule". BBC News. 15 April 2005. Retrieved 28 March 2010. * ^ "House of Lords Debates 17 March 1997 vol 579 cc653-4: Dissolution of Parliament". House of Lords Hansard. Retrieved 21 June 2010. * ^ "Advertising & Promotion: Ads contract election fever". www.campaignlive.co.uk. 20 March 1997. Retrieved 9 April 2017. * ^ A B Snowdon 2010 , p. 4. * ^ Travis, Alan (17 April 1997). "Rebels' seven-year march". The Guardian (London). * ^ Bevins, Anthony (17 April 1997). "Election \'97 : John Major takes on the Tories". The Independent. Retrieved 19 December 2015. * ^ Snowdon 2010 , p. 35. * ^ "Major events influenced BBC\'s news online Social media agency London FreshNetworks blog". Freshnetworks.com. 5 June 2008. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
* Butler, David and Dennis Kavanagh. The British General Election of
1997 (1997), the standard scholarly study
* Snowdon, Peter (2010) . Back from the Brink: The Extraordinary
Fall and Rise of the Conservative Party. London:
* Labour (New Labour, New Life For Britain) * Conservative (You can only be sure with the Conservatives) * Liberal Democrats (Make the Difference) * National Democrats (A Manifesto for Britain) * British National Party