1997 United Kingdom general election
The 1997 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 1 May 1997, five years after the previous general election on 9 April 1992, to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. Under the leadership of Tony Blair, the Labour Party ended its eighteen-year spell in opposition and won the general election with a landslide victory, winning 418 seats, the most seats the party has held to date, the highest proportion of seats held by any party in the post-war era. For the first time since 1931, the outgoing government lost more than half its parliamentary seats in an election; the election saw a 10.0% swing from Conservative to Labour on a national turnout of 71%, would be the last national vote where turnout exceeded 70% until the 2016 EU referendum nineteen years later. As a result Blair 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'New Labour'.
This was seen as moving away from the traditionally more left-wing stance of the Labour Party. Labour made several campaign pledges such as the creation of a National Minimum Wage, devolution referendums for Scotland and Wales and promised greater economic competence than the Conservatives, who were unpopular following the events of Black Wednesday in 1992; the Labour Party campaign was a success. However, 1997 was the last general election in which Labour had a net gain of seats until the snap 2017 general election 20 years later. A record number of women were elected to 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 division over the European Union, the events of Black Wednesday and a desire of the electorate for change after 18 years of Conservative rule all contributed to the Conservatives' worst defeat since 1906, with only 165 MPs elected to Westminster, as well as their lowest share of the vote since 1832.
The party was left with no seats whatsoever in Scotland or Wales, many key Conservative politicians, including Defence Secretary Michael Portillo, Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, Trade Secretary Ian Lang, Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth and former ministers Edwina Currie, Norman Lamont, David Mellor and Neil Hamilton lost their parliamentary seats. However, future Prime Minister Theresa May was elected to the safe Conservative seat of Maidenhead, current Speaker John Bercow at Buckingham. Following the defeat, the Conservatives began their longest continuous spell in opposition in the history of the present day Conservative Party, indeed the longest such spell for any incarnation of the Tories/Conservatives since the 1760s, lasting 13 years, including the whole of the 2000s. Throughout this period, their representation in the Commons remained below 200 MPs; the Liberal Democrats, under Paddy Ashdown, returned 46 MPs to parliament, the most for any third party since 1929 and more than double the number of seats it got in 1992, despite a drop in popular vote, in part due to tactical voting by anti-Conservative voters supporting it in lieu of Labour in areas where that party had little strength.
The Scottish National Party returned six MPs, double its total in 1992. As with all general elections since the early 1950s, the results were broadcast live on the BBC; the British economy had been in recession at the time of the 1992 election, which the Conservatives had won, although the recession had ended within a year, events such as Black Wednesday had tarnished the Conservative government's reputation for economic management. Labour had elected John Smith as its party leader in 1992, but his death from a heart attack in 1994 led the way for Tony Blair to become Labour leader. Blair brought the party closer to the political centre and abolished the party's Clause IV in their constitution, which had committed them to mass nationalisation of industry. Labour reversed its policy on unilateral nuclear disarmament and the events of Black Wednesday allowed Labour to promise greater economic management under the Chancellorship of Gordon Brown. A manifesto, entitled New Labour, New Life For Britain was released in 1996 and outlined five key pledges: 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 VAT on heating to 5%, keeping inflation and interest rates as low as possible. Disputes within the Conservative government over European Union issues, a variety of "sleaze" allegations had 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. Following the 1992 general election, the Conservatives held government with 336 of the 651 H
Parliament Act 1911
The Parliament Act 1911 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It is constitutionally important and governs the relationship between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which make up the two Houses of Parliament; the Parliament Act 1949 provides that the Parliament Act 1911 and the Parliament Act 1949 are to be construed together "as one" in their effects and that the two Acts may be cited together as the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949. Following the House of Lords' rejection of the 1909 "People's Budget", the House of Commons sought to establish its formal dominance over the House of Lords, which had broken convention in opposing the bill; the budget was passed by the Lords, after the Commons' democratic mandate was confirmed by holding elections in January 1910. The following Parliament Act, which looked to prevent a recurrence of the budget problems, was widely opposed in the House of Lords and cross-party discussion failed because of the proposed Act's applicability to passing an Irish home rule bill.
Following a second general election in December, the Act was passed with the support of the monarch, George V, who threatened to create a sufficient number of Liberal peers to overcome the Conservative majority. The Act removed the right of the House of Lords to veto money bills and replaced its right of veto over other public bills with the ability to delay them for a maximum of two years, it reduced the maximum term of a parliament from seven years to five. Until the Parliament Act 1911, there was no way to resolve disagreements between the two houses of Parliament except through the creation of additional peers by the monarch. Queen Anne had created twelve Tory peers to vote through the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713; the Reform Act 1832 had been passed when the House of Lords dropped their opposition to it: William IV had threatened to create eighty new peers by request of the prime minister, Earl Grey. This created an informal convention that the Lords would give way when the public was behind the House of Commons.
For example, Irish disestablishment, a major point of contention between the two main parties since the 1830s, was passed by the Lords in 1869 after Queen Victoria intervened and W. E. Gladstone won the 1868 election on the issue. However, in practice, this gave the Lords a right to demand that such public support be present and to decide the timing of a general election, it was the prevailing wisdom that the House of Lords could not amend money bills, since only the House of Commons had the right to decide upon the resources the monarch could call upon. This did not, prevent it from rejecting such bills outright. In 1860, with the repeal of the paper duties, all money bills were consolidated into a single budget; this denied the Lords the ability to reject individual components, the prospect of voting down the entire budget was unpalatable. It was only in 1909. Prior to the Act, the Lords had had rights equal to those of the Commons over legislation but, by convention, did not utilise its right of veto over financial measures.
There had been an overwhelming Conservative-Unionist majority in the Lords since the Liberal split in 1886. With the Liberal Party attempting to push through significant welfare reforms with considerable popular support, problems seemed certain to arise in the relationship between the houses. Between 1906 and 1909, several important measures were watered down or rejected outright: for example, Augustine Birrell introduced the Education Bill 1906, intended to address nonconformist grievances arising from the Education Act 1902, but it was amended by the Lords to such an extent that it became a different bill, whereupon the Commons dropped it; this led to a resolution in the House of Commons on 26 June 1907, put forward by Liberal Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman, declaring that the Lords' power ought to be curtailed. In 1909, hoping to force an election, the Lords rejected the financial bill based on the government budget put forward by David Lloyd George, by 350 votes to 75; this action, according to the Commons, was "a breach of the constitution and a usurpation of the rights of the Commons".
The Lords suggested that the Commons demonstrate at the polls the veracity of its claim that the bill represented the will of the people. The Liberal government sought to do so through the January 1910 general election, their representation in parliament dropped but they retained a majority with the help of a significant number of Irish Parliamentary Party and Labour MPs. The IPP saw the continued power of the Lords as detrimental to securing Irish Home Rule. Following the election, the Lords relented on the budget, it passed the Lords on 28 April, a day after the Commons vote; the Lords was now faced with the prospect of a Parliament Act, which had considerable support from the Irish Nationalists. A series of meetings between the Liberal government and Unionist opposition members was agreed. Twenty-one such meetings were held between 10 November; the discussions considered a wide range of proposals, with initial agreement on finance bills and on a joint sitting of the Commons and the Lords as a means by which to enforce Commons superiority in controversial areas.
However, the issue of home rule for Ireland was the main contention, with Unionists looking to exempt such a law from the Parliament Act procedure by means of a general exception for
Free trade is a trade policy that does not restrict imports or exports. In government, free trade is predominantly advocated by political parties that hold liberal economic positions while economically left-wing and nationalist political parties support protectionism, the opposite of free trade. Most nations are today members of the World Trade Organization multilateral trade agreements. Free trade is additionally exemplified by the European Economic Area and the Mercosur which have established open markets. However, most governments still impose some protectionist policies that are intended to support local employment, such as applying tariffs to imports or subsidies to exports. Governments may restrict free trade to limit exports of natural resources. Other barriers that may hinder trade include import quotas and non-tariff barriers, such as regulatory legislation. There is a broad consensus among economists that protectionism has a negative effect on economic growth and economic welfare while free trade and the reduction of trade barriers has a positive effect on economic growth.
However, liberalization of trade can cause significant and unequally distributed losses, the economic dislocation of workers in import-competing sectors. Free trade policies may promote the following features: Trade of goods without taxes or other trade barriers. Trade in services without taxes or other trade barriers; the absence of "trade-distorting" policies that give some firms, households, or factors of production an advantage over others. Unregulated access to markets. Unregulated access to market information. Inability of firms to distort markets through government-imposed monopoly or oligopoly power. Trade agreements which encourage free trade. Two simple ways to understand the proposed benefits of free trade are through David Ricardo's theory of comparative advantage and by analyzing the impact of a tariff or import quota. An economic analysis using the law of supply and demand and the economic effects of a tax can be used to show the theoretical benefits and disadvantages of free trade.
Most economists would recommend that developing nations should set their tariff rates quite low, but the economist Ha-Joon Chang, a proponent of industrial policy, believes higher levels may be justified in developing nations because the productivity gap between them and developed nations today is much higher than what developed nations faced when they were at a similar level of technological development. Underdeveloped nations today, Chang believes, are weak players in a much more competitive system. Counterarguments to Chang's point of view are that the developing countries are able to adopt technologies from abroad whereas developed nations had to create new technologies themselves and that developing countries can sell to export markets far richer than any that existed in the 19th century. If the chief justification for a tariff is to stimulate infant industries, it must be high enough to allow domestic manufactured goods to compete with imported goods in order to be successful; this theory, known as import substitution industrialization, is considered ineffective for developing nations.
The chart at the right analyzes the effect of the imposition of an import tariff on some imaginary good. Prior to the tariff, the price of the good in the world market is Pworld; the tariff increases the domestic price to Ptariff. The higher price causes domestic production to increase from QS1 to QS2 and causes domestic consumption to decline from QC1 to QC2; this has three main effects on societal welfare. Consumers are made worse off. Producers are better off; the government has additional tax revenue. However, the loss to consumers is greater than the gains by the government; the magnitude of this societal loss is shown by the two pink triangles. Removing the tariff and having free trade would be a net gain for society. An identical analysis of this tariff from the perspective of a net producing country yields parallel results. From that country's perspective, the tariff leaves producers worse off and consumers better off, but the net loss to producers is larger than the benefit to consumers. Under similar analysis, export tariffs, import quotas and export quotas all yield nearly identical results.
Sometimes consumers are better off and producers worse off and sometimes consumers are worse off and producers are better off, but the imposition of trade restrictions causes a net loss to society because the losses from trade restrictions are larger than the gains from trade restrictions. Free trade creates winners and losers, but theory and empirical evidence show that the size of the winnings from free trade are larger than the losses. According to mainstream economics theory, the selective application of free trade agreements to some countries and tariffs on others can lead to economic inefficiency through the process of trade diversion, it is economically efficient for a good to be produced by the country, the lowest cost producer, but this does not always take place if a high cost producer has a free trade agreement while the low cost producer faces a high tariff. Applying free trade to the high cost producer and not the low cost producer as well can lead to trade diversion and a net economic loss.
This is why many economists place such high importance on negotiations for global tar
1983 United Kingdom general election
The 1983 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 9 June 1983. It gave the Conservative Party under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher the most decisive election victory since that of the Labour Party in 1945. Thatcher's first four years as Prime Minister had not been an easy time. Unemployment increased during the first three years of her premiership and the economy went through a recession. However, the British victory in the Falklands War led to a recovery of her personal popularity. By the time Thatcher called the election in May 1983, the Conservatives were most people's firm favourites to win the general election; the Labour Party had been led by Michael Foot since the resignation of former Prime Minister James Callaghan in 1980. They had fared well in opinion polls and local elections during this time, but issues developed which would lead directly to their defeat. Labour adopted a platform, considered more left-wing than usual. Several moderate Labour MPs had defected from the party to form the Social Democratic Party.
The opposition vote split evenly between the Alliance and Labour. With its worst electoral performance since 1918, the Labour vote fell by over 3 million votes from 1979 and this accounted for both a national swing of 4% towards the Conservatives and their larger parliamentary majority of 144 seats though the Conservatives' total vote fell by 700,000; this was the last general election where a governing party increased its number of seats until 2015. The Alliance came within 700,000 votes of out-polling Labour. By gaining 25% of the popular vote, the Alliance won the largest such percentage for any third party since the 1923 general election. Despite this, they won only 23 seats, whereas Labour won 209; the Liberals argued that a proportional electoral system would have given them a more representative number of MPs. Changing the electoral system had been a long-running Liberal Party campaign plank and would be adopted by the Liberal Democrats; the election night was broadcast live on the BBC, was presented by David Dimbleby, Sir Robin Day and Peter Snow.
It was broadcast on ITV, presented by Alastair Burnet, Peter Sissons and Martyn Lewis. Three future Leaders of the Labour Party were first elected as Members of Parliament at this election—two of them would hold the office of Prime Minister, whilst Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015. Former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers, Joan Lestor and Tony Benn left Parliament as a result of this election, although Benn would return in a by-election the following year, Lestor at the following general election. Michael Foot was elected leader of the Labour Party in 1980; the election of Foot signalled that the core of the party was swinging to the left and the move exacerbated divisions within the party. In 1981 a group of senior figures including Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams left Labour to found the Social Democratic Party; the SDP agreed to a pact with the Liberals for the 1983 election and stood as "The Alliance". The campaign displayed the huge divisions between the two major parties.
Thatcher had been unpopular during her first two years in office until the swift and decisive victory in the Falklands War, coupled with an improving economy raised her standings in the polls. The Conservatives' key issues included economic growth and defence. Labour's campaign manifesto involved leaving the European Economic Community, abolishing the House of Lords, abandoning the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent by cancelling Trident and removing cruise missiles—a programme dubbed by Labour MP Gerald Kaufman "the longest suicide note in history". Pro-Labour political journalist Michael White, writing in The Guardian, commented: "There was something magnificently brave about Michael Foot's campaign but it was like the Battle of the Somme." Following boundary changes in 1983, the BBC and ITN co-produced a calculation of how the 1979 general election would have gone if fought on the new 1983 boundaries. The following table shows the effects of the boundary changes on the House of Commons: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited Buckingham Palace on the afternoon of 9 May and asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament on 13 May, announcing that the election would be held on 9 June.
The key dates were as follows: The election saw a landslide victory for the Conservatives, achieving their best results since 1935. Although there was a slight drop in their share of the vote, they made significant gains at the expense of Labour; the night was a disaster for the Labour Party. The massive increase of support for the Alliance at the expense of Labour meant that, in many seats, the collapse in the Labour vote allowed the Conservatives to gain. Despite winning over 25% of the national vote, the Alliance got fewer than 4% of seats, 186 fewer than Labour; the most significant Labour loss of the night was Tony Benn, defeated in the revived Bristol East seat. SDP President Shirley Williams a prominent leader in the Social Democratic Party, lost her Crosby seat which she had won in a by-election in 1981. Bill Rodgers, another leading figure in the Alliance failed to win his old seat that he held as a Labour MP. In Scotland, both Labour a
Labour Representation Committee (1900)
The Labour Representation Committee was a pressure group founded in 1900 as an alliance of socialist organisations and trade unions, aimed at increasing representation for labour interests in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Labour Party traces its origin to the LRC's foundation. In 1899, a Doncaster member of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, Thomas R. Steels, proposed in his union branch that the Trade Union Congress call a special conference to bring together all left-wing organisations and form them into a single body that would sponsor Parliamentary candidates; the motion was passed at all stages by the TUC, the proposed conference was held at the Memorial Hall on Farringdon Street on 26 and 27 February 1900. The meeting was attended by a broad spectrum of working-class and left-wing organisations — trades unions represented about a half of the unions and one third of the membership of the TUC delegates; the LRC is the direct predecessor of the modern British Labour Party.
In addition to various trade union leaders, organisations present at this conference were the Independent Labour Party, the Social Democratic Federation and the Fabian Society, After a debate all the 129 delegates passed Keir Hardie's motion to establish "a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, agree upon their policy, which must embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour." This created an association called the Labour Representation Committee, meant to coordinate attempts to support MPs sponsored by trade unions and represent the working-class population. To make this possible the Conference established the LRC; this committee included two members from the ILP, two from the SDF, one Fabian, seven trade unionists. It had no single leader, in the absence of one, the Independent Labour Party nominee Ramsay MacDonald was elected as Secretary, he had the difficult task of keeping the various strands of opinions in the LRC united.
The October 1900 "Khaki election" came too soon for the new party to campaign effectively. Only 15 candidatures were sponsored. Support for the LRC was boosted by the 1901 Taff Vale Case, a dispute between strikers and a railway company that ended with the union being ordered to pay £23,000 damages for a strike; the judgement made strikes illegal since employers could recoup the cost of lost business from the unions. The apparent acquiescence of the Conservative Government of Arthur Balfour to industrial and business interests intensified support for the LRC against a government that appeared to have little concern for the industrial proletariat and its problems. In the 1906 election, the LRC won 29 seats—helped by a secret Gladstone–MacDonald pact in 1903 between Ramsay MacDonald and Liberal Chief Whip Herbert Gladstone that aimed to avoid splitting the opposition vote between Labour and Liberal candidates in the interest of removing the Conservatives from office. Historian Eric J. Evans argues: The MacDonald–Gladstone pact proved to be a turning point.
It gave the LRC a bridgehead in parliament, with twenty-nine of its candidates elected in 1906. By the end of 1910, the Labour party had forty-two MPs.... With the benefit of hindsight, the MacDonald-Gladstone pact looks to have been a tactical disaster for the Liberals.... On deeper investigation, Gladstone's decision is defensible and might have been the best option. On 15 February 1906, at their first meeting after the election, the group's Members of Parliament decided to adopt the name "The Labour Party" formally. Keir Hardie, who had taken a leading role in getting the party established, was elected as Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, although only by one vote over David Shackleton after several ballots. In the party's early years the Independent Labour Party provided much of its activist base as the party did not have individual membership until 1918 but operated as a conglomerate of affiliated bodies; the Fabian Society provided much of the intellectual stimulus for the party.
One of the first acts of the new Liberal Government was to reverse the Taff Vale judgement. The Labour Party itself regarded 2000 as its centenary year, though it marked the founding of the party with the singing of "The Red Flag" in parliament at the end of Commons business on 9 February 2006; the People's History Museum in Manchester holds the minutes of the first Labour Party meeting in 1906 and has them on display in the Main Galleries. Within the museum is the Labour History Archive and Study Centre, which holds the collection of the Labour Party, with material ranging from 1900 to the present day; the following served as Chairman of the LRC: 1900-01 Frederick Rogers 1901-02 Allen Gee 1902-03 Richard Bell MP 1903-04 John Hodge 1904-05 David Shackleton MP 1905-06 Arthur Henderson MP "Labor Representation Committee". New International Encyclopedia. 1905
1931 United Kingdom general election
The 1931 United Kingdom general election was held on Tuesday 27 October 1931 and saw a landslide election victory for the National Government, formed two months after the collapse of the second Labour government. Collectively, the parties forming the National Government won 67% of the votes and 554 seats out of 615; the bulk of the National Government's support came from the Conservative Party, the Conservatives won 470 seats. The Labour Party suffered its greatest defeat, losing four out of five seats compared with the previous election; the Liberal Party, split into three factions, continued to shrink and the Liberal National faction never reunited. Ivor Bulmer-Thomas said the results "were the most astonishing in the history of the British party system", it was the last election where one party received an absolute majority of the votes cast and the last UK general election not to take place on a Thursday, would be the last election until 1997 in which a party won over 400 seats in the House of Commons.
After battling with the Great Depression for two years, Ramsay MacDonald's Labour government had been faced with a sudden budget crisis in August 1931. The cabinet deadlocked over its response, with several influential members such as Arthur Henderson unwilling to support the budget cuts which were pressed by the civil service and opposition parties. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Snowden, refused to consider deficit spending or tariffs as alternative solutions; when the government resigned, MacDonald was encouraged by King George V to form an all-party National Government to deal with the immediate crisis. The initial hope that the government would hold office for a few weeks, dissolve to return to ordinary party politics, were frustrated when the government was forced to remove the pound sterling from the gold standard; the Conservatives began pressing for the National Government to fight an election as a combined unit, MacDonald's supporters from the Labour Party formed a National Labour Organisation to support him.
However the Liberals had to be persuaded. Former Liberal leader David Lloyd George opposed the decision to call an election and urged his colleagues to withdraw from the National Government. A main issue was the Conservatives' wish to introduce protectionist trade policies; this issue not only divided the government from the opposition but divided the parties in the National Government: the majority of Liberals, led by Sir Herbert Samuel, were opposed and supported free trade, but on the eve of the election a faction known as Liberal Nationals under the leadership of Sir John Simon was formed who were willing to support protectionist trade policies. In order to preserve the Liberals within the National Government, the government itself did not endorse a policy but appealed for a "Doctor's Mandate" to do whatever was necessary to rescue the economy. Individual Conservative candidates supported protective tariffs. Labour campaigned on opposition to public spending cuts, but found it difficult to defend the record of the party's former government and the fact that most of the cuts had been agreed before it fell.
Historian Andrew Thorpe argues that Labour lost credibility by 1931 as unemployment soared in coal, textiles and steel. The working class lost confidence in the ability of Labour to solve the most pressing problem; the 2.5 million Irish Catholics in England and Scotland were a major factor in the Labour base in many industrial areas. The Catholic Church had tolerated the Labour Party, denied that it represented true socialism. However, the bishops by 1930 had grown alarmed at Labour's policies towards Communist Russia, towards birth control and towards funding Catholic schools, they warned its members. The Catholic shift against Labour and in favour of the National Government played a major role in Labour's losses. In the event, the Labour vote fell and the National Government won a landslide majority. Although the overwhelming majority of the Government MPs were Conservatives under the leadership of Stanley Baldwin, MacDonald remained Prime Minister in the new National Government; the Liberals lacked the funds to contest the full range of seats, but still won as many constituencies as the Labour Party.
There were more MPs who were elected under a Liberal ticket of some description there were the combined number of Labour and National Labour MPs, but the three-way split in the party meant that the main Labour group still ended up as the second-largest in Parliament. Note: Seat changes are compared with the 1929 election result; this differs from the above list in including seats where the incumbent was standing down and therefore there was no possibility of any one person being defeated. The aim is to provide a comparison with the previous election. In addition, it provides information. All comparisons are with the 1929 election. In some cases the change is due to the MP defecting to the gaining party; such circumstances are marked with a *. In other circumstances the change is due to the seat having been won by the gaining party in a by-election in the intervening years, retained in 1931; such circumstances are marked with a †. These are available at the PoliticsResources website, a link to, given below.
MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1931 Ball, Stuart and the Conservative Party: The Crisis of 1929–31, Yale University Press Bas