United Kingdom general election, 1950

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United Kingdom general election, 1950
United Kingdom
← 1945 23 February 1950 1951 →

All 625 seats in the House of Commons
313 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 83.9% (Increase11.1%)
  First party Second party Third party
  Attlee with GeorgeVI HU 59486 (cropped).jpg Sir Winston S Churchill.jpg Clement Davies.jpg
Leader Clement Attlee Winston Churchill Clement Davies
Party Labour Conservative Liberal
Leader since 25 October 1935 9 October 1940 2 August 1945
Leader's seat Walthamstow West Woodford Montgomeryshire
Last election 393 seats, 47.7% 197 seats, 36.2%[1] 12 seats, 9.0%
Seats won 315 298 9
Seat change Decrease78 Increase101 Decrease3
Popular vote 13,226,176 12,494,404 2,621,487
Percentage 46.1% 43.4% 9.1%
Swing Decrease1.6% Increase7.2% Increase0.1%

UK General Election, 1950.svg
Colours denote the winning party.

Prime Minister before election

Clement Attlee
Labour

Appointed Prime Minister

Clement Attlee
Labour

The 1950 United Kingdom general election was the first ever general election to be held after a full term of a Labour government. The election was held on Thursday 23 February 1950, despite polling over 700,000 votes more than the Conservatives,[2] and receiving more votes than they had during the 1945 general election,[3] Labour obtained a slim majority of just five seats — a stark contrast to 1945, when they had achieved a comfortable 146-seat majority.[4] There was a national swing towards the Conservatives, whose performance in terms of popular vote was dramatically better than in 1945. Labour called another general election in 1951.

Turnout increased to 83.9%, the highest turnout in a UK general election under universal suffrage.

It was also the first general election to be covered on television, although the footage was not recorded. Richard Dimbleby anchored for the BBC Television coverage of the election, which he would later do again for the 1951, 1955, 1959 and the 1964 general elections. On this occasion, Dimbleby was joined in the BBC Lime Grove Studios by R.B. McCallum Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, and author of "The British General Election of 1945" and David Butler, Research student of Nuffield College, the first ever election night programme ran from 10.45pm until just after 1.00am.[5]

Background[edit]

Significant changes since the 1945 general election included the abolition of plural voting by the Representation of the People Act 1948, and a major reorganisation of constituencies by the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949. Eleven new English seats were created and six were abolished, and there were over 170 major alterations to constituencies across the country.

Campaign[edit]

Both the Conservative and Labour parties entered the campaign positively.

The Conservatives, having recovered from their landslide election defeat in 1945, accepted most of the nationalisation that had taken place under the Attlee government, which included the NHS and the mixed economy[clarification needed]. The campaign essentially focused on the possible future nationalisation of other sectors and industries, which was supported by the Labour Party, and opposed by the Conservatives, the Liberals essentially viewed the struggle between the two parties on this issue as a class struggle.[6]

The Liberal Party fielded 475 candidates, more than at any general election since 1929. Liberal Party leader Clement Davies felt that the party had been at a disadvantage at the 1945 general election when they ran fewer candidates than needed to form a government. Davies arranged for the cost of running extra candidates to be offset by the party taking out insurance with Lloyd's of London against more than fifty candidates losing their deposits.

In the event, a total of 319 Liberal candidates lost their deposits, a record number[7] until 2015, when candidates for the Liberal Democrats lost 335 deposits at the general election held in that year.[8]

Results[edit]


315 298 12
Labour Conservative Oth

The Labour Party won an overall majority of 5 seats, down from 146 in the previous election.

Prominent personalities entering Parliament in this election included Edward Heath, Enoch Powell, Reginald Maudling, Iain Macleod and Tony Benn.

UK general election 1950
Candidates Votes
Party Leader Stood Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % No. Net %
  Labour Clement Attlee 617 315 − 78 50.4 46.1 13,266,176 -1.6
  Conservative Winston Churchill 495 298 +90 47.7 43.4 12,492,404 +4.3
  Liberal Clement Davies 475 9 3 6 − 3 1.4 9.1 2,621,487 +0.1
  Communist Harry Pollitt 100 0 0 2 − 2 0.3 91,765 -0.1
  Nationalist James McSparran 2 2 0 0 0 0.3 0.2 65,211 -0.2
  Irish Labour William Norton 2 0 0 0 0 0.2 52,715 N/A
  Independent N/A 15 0 0 0 0 0.2 50,299 -0.4
  Independent Labour N/A 6 0 0 0 0 0.1 26,395 -0.2
  Independent Conservative N/A 3 0 0 0 0 0.1 24,732 -0.1
  Sinn Féin Paddy McLogan 2 0 0 0 0 0.1 23,362 N/A
  Plaid Cymru Gwynfor Evans 7 0 0 0 0 0.1 17,580 +0.1
  Independent Liberal N/A 2 1 0 1 − 1 0.2 0.1 15,066
  SNP Robert McIntyre 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 9,708 -0.1
  Anti-Partition James McSparran 4 0 0 0 0 0.1 5,084 N/A
  Ind. Labour Party David Gibson 4 0 0 3 − 3 0.0 4,112 -0.2
  Independent Liberal and Conservative N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,551 N/A
  National Independent N/A 1 0 0 2 − 2 0.0 1,380 -0.3
  Mudiad Gweriniaethol Cymru None 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 613 N/A
  Social Credit John Hargrave 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 551 N/A
  United Socialist Guy Aldred 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 485
  Socialist (GB) None 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 448

Total votes cast: 28,771,124. Turnout 83.9%.[9] All parties shown. Conservative total includes Liberal National Party. (Scottish) Unionists and Ulster Unionists

Votes summary[edit]

Popular vote
Labour
46.1%
Conservative
43.4%
Liberal
9.1%
Communist
0.3%
Nationalist
0.2%
Others
1.1%

Seats summary[edit]

Parliamentary seats
Labour
50.4%
Conservative
47.7%
Liberal
1.4%
Nationalist
0.3%
Others
0.2%

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Conservatives, Unionists and UUP 197 seats, 36.2%, National Liberals 11 seats, 2.9%
  2. ^ Including allies of the Conservatives such as the Unionists and the National Liberals.
  3. ^ "BBC NEWS - VOTE2001 - THE ELECTION BATTLES 1945-1997". 
  4. ^ "BBC NEWS - VOTE2001 - THE ELECTION BATTLES 1945-1997". 
  5. ^ "General Election Results". 17 February 1950. p. 47. Retrieved 27 March 2018 – via BBC Genome. 
  6. ^ "BBC NEWS - UK - UK Politics - The Basics - past_elections - 1950: Labour majority slashed". 
  7. ^ Liberal Crusader: The Life of Sir Archibald Sinclair by Gerard De Groot
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015. 
  9. ^ "Voter turnout at UK general elections 1945 – 2015 - UK Political Info". 

References[edit]

  • F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987
  • Nicholas, H. (1951). The British general election of 1950. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-77865-0. 

Manifestos[edit]

External links[edit]