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United Kingdom general election, 1997

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Politics of the United Kingdom

The UK general election, 1997 was held on 1 May 1997. The election brought the first change in UK Government for 18 years. The Labour Party led by Tony Blair defeated the incumbent Conservative Party, causing a major change to the political landscape of the United Kingdom.

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The election has been described as a bloodbath for the ruling Conservative Party. They lost all seats outside England, and several prominent members of the party were not re-elected, including:


Labour won their largest parliamentary majority (179) to date, and the Liberal Democrats more than doubled their number of seats.

The Referendum Party came fourth with about 800,000 votes on a platform of seeking a referendum on the relationship with the European Union and may have taken some votes from the Conservatives; the next six parties only stood in one of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

An independent, Martin Bell, won the Tatton seat, where incumbent MP Neil Hamilton was facing charges of having taken cash for questions, but was determined to stand nonetheless. The Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates withdrew in order for Bell to contest the seat.

The result declared for the constituency of Winchester showed a margin of victory of just 2 votes for the Liberal Democrats. The defeated Conservative candidate challenged the result on the grounds that errors by election officials (failures to stamp certain votes) had changed the result, forcing 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 choice to challenge the original result.

Results

The election was fought under new boundaries, with an additional 8 seats across the UK. Changes listed here are from the notional 1992 result had it been fought on those boundaries. These notional results were used by all media organisations at the time.

Party Votes Seats Loss/Gain Share of Vote (%)
Labour 13,518,167 418 + 145 43.2
Conservative 9,600,774 165  – 178 30.7
Liberal Democrats 5,242,947 46 + 28 16.8
Referendum 811,849 0 2.6
SNP 621,550 6 + 3 2.0
Ulster Unionist 258,349 10 + 1 0.8
SDLP 190,814 3  – 1 0.6
Plaid Cymru 161,030 4 0.5
Sinn Féin 126,921 2 + 2 0.4
Democratic Unionist 107,348 2  – 2 0.3
UK Independence 105,722 0 0.3
Green 63,991 0 0.3
Alliance (NI) 62,972 0 0.2
Socialist Labour 52,109 0 0.2
Liberal 45,166 0 0.1
Independent 41,367 1 +1 0.1
BNP 35,832 0 0.1
Natural Law 30,604 0 0.1
The Speaker 23,969 1 +1 0.1
Prolife Alliance 19,332 0 0.1
UK Unionist 12,817 1 +1 0.0
Progressive Unionist 10,928 0 0.0
National Democrat 10,829 0 0.0
Socialist 9,906 0 0.0
Scottish Socialist 9,740 0 0.0
Independent Labour 9,233 0 0.0
Independent Conservative 8,608 0 0.0
Monster Raving Loony 7,906 0 0.0
Rainbow 3,745 0 0.0
NI Women's Coalition 3,024 0 0.0
Workers 2,766 0 0.0
National Front 2,716 0 0.0
Workers 2,480 0 0.0
Cannabis 2,085 0 0.0
People's Labour 1,995 0 0.0
Mebyon Kernow 1,906 0 0.0
Conservative Anti-Euro 1,434 0 0.0
SPGB 1,359 0 0.0
Independent Democracy Means Consulting the People 1,301 0 0.0
Community Representative 1,290 0 0.0
Independent Conservative Referendum Party 1,276 0 0.0
Residents Association 1,263 0 0.0
Social Democrat 1,246 0 0.0
Anti-Sleaze Labour 1,184 0 0.0
WRP 1,178 0 0.0
Real Labour 1,117 0 0.0

Total votes cast: 31,286,284. All parties with more than 1,000 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.

See also MPs elected in the UK general election, 1997.

United Kingdom general elections
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