1997 United Kingdom general election

1997 United Kingdom general election

← 1992 1 May 1997 2001 →

All 659 seats to the House of Commons
330 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout 71.3% (Decrease6.4%)
  First party Second party Third party
  Tony Blair in 2002.jpg Prime Minister John Major (cropped).jpg Paddy Ashdown (2005) (cropped).jpg
Leader Tony Blair John Major Paddy Ashdown
Party Labour Conservative Liberal Democrats
Leader since 21 July 1994 4 July 1995[n 1] 16 July 1988
Leader's seat Sedgefield Huntingdon Yeovil
Last election 271 seats, 34.4% 336 seats, 41.9% 20 seats, 17.8%
Seats before 273 343 18
Seats won 418 165 46
Seat change Increase145* Decrease171* Increase26*
Popular vote 13,518,167 9,600,943 5,242,947
Percentage 43.2% 30.7% 16.8%
Swing Increase8.8% Decrease11.2% Decrease1.0%

UK General Election, 1997.svg
Colours denote the winning party, as shown in the main table of results.
* Indicates boundary change, so this is a nominal figure.
Notional 1992 results on new boundaries.
^ Figure does not include the speaker.

House of Commons elected members, 1997.svg
Composition of the House of Commons after the election

Prime Minister before election

John Major

Prime Minister after election

Tony Blair

Ring charts of the election results showing popular vote against seats won, coloured in party colours
Seats won in the election (outer ring) against number of votes (inner ring).

The 1997 United Kingdom general election was held on 1 May 1997. The incumbent governing Conservative Party led by Prime Minister John Major was defeated in a landslide by the Labour Party led by Tony Blair.

The political backdrop of campaigning focused on public opinion towards a change in government. Labour Leader, Tony Blair focused on transforming his party through a more centrist policy platform, entitled 'New Labour', with promises towards devolution referendums for Scotland and Wales, fiscal responsibility, and Blair's decision to nominate more female politicians for constituencies. Major sought to rebuild public trust in the Conservatives following a series of scandals, including the events of Black Wednesday in 1992,[2] through campaigning on the strength of the economic recovery following the early 1990s recession, but faced divisions within the party over the UK's membership of the European Union.[citation needed]

Opinion polls during campaigning showed strong support for Labour due to the popularity of Blair amongst voters[citation needed], and Blair won a personal public endorsement from The Sun newspaper two months before the vote.[3] The final result of the election on 2 May 1997 revealed that Labour had won a landslide majority, making a net gain of 146 seats and winning 43.2% of the vote. The Conservatives, meanwhile, suffered defeat with a net loss of 178 seats, despite winning 30.7% of the vote. The Liberal Democrats, under the leadership of Paddy Ashdown, made a net gain of 28 seats, winning 16.8% of the vote.

The overall result of the election ended 18 years of Conservative government, in their worst defeat since 1906, a defeat which left them devoid of any MPs outside of England, only 17 MPs north of the Midlands, and less than 20% of MPs in London.[citation needed] Immediately following the election Major resigned both as Prime Minister and as party leader. Labour's victory, the largest achieved in their history and by any political party in British politics since the Second World War, led to the party's first of three consecutive terms in power lasting 13 years, with Blair as the newly appointed Prime Minister. The Liberal Democrats' success in the election, in part due to anti-Conservative tactical voting,[4] both strengthened Ashdown's leadership and the party's position as a strong third party, having won the highest number of seats by any third party since 1929.

Although the Conservatives lost many ministers such as Michael Portillo, Tony Newton, Malcolm Rifkind, Ian Lang and William Waldegrave and controversial MPs such as Neil Hamilton and Jonathan Aitken,[5] some of the Conservative newcomers in this election were future Prime Minister Theresa May, future Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond as well as future Speaker John Bercow. Meanwhile Labour newcomers included future Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet members Hazel Blears, Ben Bradshaw, Yvette Cooper, Caroline Flint, Barry Gardiner, Alan Johnson, Ruth Kelly, John McDonnell, Stephen Twigg and Rosie Winterton, as well as future Speaker Lindsay Hoyle. The election of 120 women, including 101 to the Labour benches came to be seen as a watershed moment in female political representation in the UK.[6]


Labour's five-year pledge

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 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 also 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%, and keeping inflation and interest rates as low as possible.

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.[7]

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 (and had not won a by-election since 1989).


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.


Prime Minister John Major called the election on Monday 17 March 1997, ensuring the formal campaign would be unusually long, at six weeks (Parliament was dissolved on 8 April).[8] The election was scheduled for 1 May, to coincide with the local elections on the same day. This set a precedent, as the three subsequent general elections were also held alongside the May local elections.

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, Asda introduced a range of election-themed beers, these being 'Major's Mild', 'Tony's Tipple' and 'Ashdown's Ale'.[9]

Conservative campaign

The Conservative Party began low in the polls, and had experienced great difficulties over the previous five years, with polling often putting it some 40 points adrift of Labour.[citation needed] 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'.[10] However, the campaign was beset by deep-set problems, such as the rise of James Goldsmith's Referendum Party which advocated a referendum on continued membership of the European Union. 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.[11] 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.[12][10]

Meanwhile, there was also division amongst the Conservative cabinet, with Chancellor Kenneth Clarke describing the views of Home Secretary Michael Howard on Europe as "paranoid and xenophobic nonsense". The Conservatives also struggled to come up with a definitive theme to attack Labour, with some strategists arguing for an approach which castigated Labour for "stealing Tory clothes" (copying their positions), with others making the case for a more confrontational approach, stating that "New Labour" was just a façade for "old Labour".

The New Labour, New Danger poster, which depicted Tony Blair with demon eyes, was an example of the latter strategy. Major veered between the two approaches, which left Conservative Central Office staff frustrated. As Andrew Cooper explained: "We repeatedly tried and failed to get him to understand that you couldn't say that they were dangerous and copying you at the same time."[13] In any case, the campaign failed to gain much traction, and the Conservatives went down to a landslide defeat at the polls.

Labour campaign

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 Conservative voters, particularly moderate and suburban ones. Tony Blair, highly popular, was very much the centrepiece of the campaign, and proved a highly effective campaigner.

The Labour campaign was reminiscent of those of Bill Clinton for the US Presidency, focusing on centrist themes, as well as adopting policies more commonly associated with the right, such as cracking down on crime and fiscal responsibility. The influence of political "spin" came into great effect for Labour at this point, as media centric figures such as Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson provided a clear cut campaign, and establishing a relatively new political brand "New Labour" with enviable success.

Liberal Democrat campaign

The Liberal Democrats had suffered a disappointing performance in 1992, but they were very much strengthened in 1997 due in part to potential tactical voting between Labour and Lib Dem supporters in Conservative marginal constituencies, particularly in the south - which explains why while given their share of the vote decreased, their number of seats nearly doubled.[4] The Lib Dems promised to increase education funding paid for by a 1p increase in income tax.


Opinion polling

National 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.

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 Democrats 18 0 2 −2 2.7 17.8 5,999,384
  Other parties 25 1 0 +1 3.6 5.9
The notional results of the 1992 election, as shown on a map of the 1997 constituencies.


Labour won a landslide victory with its 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, Labour 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 Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson. Between the 1992 election and the 1997 election there had also been major steps to "modernise" the party, including scrapping Clause IV that had committed the party to extending public ownership of industry. Labour had suddenly seized the middle ground of the political spectrum, attracting voters much further to the right than their traditional working class or left wing support. In the early hours of 2 May 1997 a party was held at the Royal Festival Hall, in which Blair stated that "a new dawn has broken, has it not?".

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 Scotland and Wales. A number of prominent Conservative MPs lost their seats in the election, including Michael Portillo, Malcolm Rifkind, Edwina Currie, David Mellor, Neil Hamilton and Norman Lamont. Such was the extent of Conservative losses at the election that Cecil Parkinson, speaking on the BBC's election night programme, joked upon the Conservatives winning their second seat that he was pleased that the subsequent election for the leadership would be contested.

The Liberal Democrats more than doubled their number of seats thanks to the use of tactical voting against the Conservatives.[4] 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 led the party to 59 seats in 1929.

The Referendum Party, which sought a referendum on the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union, came fourth in terms of votes with 800,000 votes mainly from former Conservative voters,[citation needed] but won no seats in parliament. The six parties with the next highest votes stood only in either Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales; in order, they were the Scottish National Party, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Féin, and the Democratic Unionist Party.

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 saw a doubling of the number of women in parliament, from 60 elected in 1992 to 120 elected in 1997.[15] 102 of them were on the Labour benches - controversially described as Blair Babes - driven by the Labour Party’s 1993 policy (ruled illegally discriminatory in 1996) of all-women shortlists. This election has therefore been widely seen as a watershed moment for representation of women in the UK.[16][17][18][19]

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 [20]
Candidates Votes
Party Leader Stood Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % No. Net %
  Labour Tony Blair 639 418 146 0 +146 63.4 43.2 13,518,167 +8.8
  Conservative John Major 648 165 0 178 –178 25.0 30.7 9,600,943 –11.2
  Liberal Democrats Paddy Ashdown 639 46 30 2 +28 7.0 16.8 5,242,947 –1.0
  Referendum James Goldsmith 547 0 0 0 0 2.6 811,849 N/A
  SNP Alex Salmond 72 6 3 0 +3 0.9 2.0 621,550 +0.1
  UUP David Trimble 16 10 1 0 +1 1.5 0.8 258,349 0.0
  SDLP John Hume 18 3 0 1 –1 0.5 0.6 190,814 +0.1
  Plaid Cymru Dafydd Wigley 40 4 0 0 0 0.6 0.5 161,030 0.0
  Sinn Féin Gerry Adams 17 2 2 0 +2 0.3 0.4 126,921 0.0
  DUP Ian Paisley 9 2 0 1 –1 0.3 0.3 107,348 0.0
  UKIP Alan Sked 193 0 0 0 0 0.3 105,722 N/A
  Independent N/A 25 1 1 0 +1 0.2 0.2 64,482 0.0
  Alliance John Alderdice 17 0 0 0 0 0.2 62,972 0.0
  Green Peg Alexander and David Taylor 89 0 0 0 0 0.2 61,731 –0.2
  Socialist Labour Arthur Scargill 64 0 0 0 0 0.2 52,109 N/A
  Liberal Michael Meadowcroft 53 0 0 0 0 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
  Speaker Betty Boothroyd 1 1 1 0 0 0.1 23,969
  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
  Ind. Conservative N/A 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 8,608 –0.1
  Monster Raving Loony Screaming Lord Sutch 24 0 0 0 0 0.0 7,906 –0.1
  Rainbow Dream Ticket Rainbow George Weiss 29 0 0 0 0 0.0 3,745 N/A
  NI Women's Coalition Monica McWilliams and Pearl Sagar 3 0 0 0 0 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
  Legalise Cannabis Howard Marks 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 2,085 N/A
  People's Labour Jim Hamezian 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,995 N/A
  Mebyon Kernow Loveday Jenkin 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,906 N/A
  Scottish Green Robin Harper 5 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,721
  Conservative Anti-Euro Christopher Story 1 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
  Residents 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,263 N/A
  SDP 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
  Ind. Democratic N/A 0 0 0 0 0.0 982
  Ind. Liberal Democrat N/A 0 0 0 0 0.0 890
  Communist Mike Hicks 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 639
  Independent Green N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 593
  Green (NI) 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 539
  Socialist Equality Davy Hyland 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 505

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.[citation needed]

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
Turnout 71.3%
Popular vote
Liberal Democrat
Scottish National
Parliamentary seats
Liberal Democrat
Scottish National
Ulster Unionist
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

Defeated MPs

MPs who lost their seats

Party Name Constituency Office held whilst in power Year elected Defeated by Party
Conservative Party Raymond Robertson Aberdeen South 1992 Anne Begg Labour Party
George Kynoch Kincardine and Deeside, contesting West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (1995-1997) 1992 Robert Smith Liberal Democrats
Phillip Oppenheim Amber Valley Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (1996-1997) 1983 Judy Mallaber Labour Party
Phil Gallie Ayr 1992 Sandra Osborne Labour Party
Elizabeth Peacock Batley and Spen 1983 Mike Wood Labour Party
John Bowis Battersea Parliamentary Under-Seretary of state for Transport (1996-1997) 1987 Martin Linton Labour Party
David Evennett Erith and Crayford, contesting Bexleyheath and Crayford 1983 Nigel Beard Labour Party
Andrew Hargreaves Birmingham Hall Green 1987 Steve McCabe Labour Party
Harold Elletson Blackpool North, contesting Blackpool North and Fleetwood 1992 Joan Humble Labour Party
Tom Sackville Bolton West Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office (1995-1997) 1983 Ruth Kelly Labour Party
Tony Newton Braintree Leader of the House of Commons and Lord President of the Council (1992-1997) 1974 Alan Hurst Labour Party
Jonathan Evans Brecon and Radnorshire Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (1996-1997) 1992 Richard Livsey Liberal Democrats
Rhodes Boyson Brent North Minister of State for Local Government (1986-1987) 1974 Barry Gardiner Labour Party
Nirj Deva Brentford and Isleworth 1992 Ann Keen Labour Party
Andrew Bowden Brighton Kemptown 1970 Des Turner Labour Party
Derek Spencer Brighton Pavilion Solicitor General for England and Wales (1992-1997) 1992 David Lepper Labour Party
Michael Stern Bristol North West 1983 Doug Naysmith Labour Party
William Waldegrave Bristol West Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1995-1997) 1979 Valerie Davey Labour Party
Jim Lester Broxtowe 1974 Nick Palmer Labour Party
Ivan Lawrence Burton Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee (1992-1997) 1974 Janet Dean Labour Party
Alistair Burt Bury North Minister of State for the Department of Social Security (1995-1997) 1983 David Chaytor Labour Party
David Sumberg Bury South 1983 Ivan Lewis Labour Party
Donald Thompson Calder Valley 1979 Christine McCafferty Labour Party
Gwilym Jones Cardiff North Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (1994-1997) 1983 Julie Morgan Labour Party
Nigel Forman Carshalton and Wallington Minister of Higher Education (1992) 1976 Tom Brake Liberal Democrats (UK)
Bob Spink Castle Point 1992 Christine Butler Labour Party
Gyles Brandreth City of Chester Lord Commissioner of the Treasury (1996-1997) 1992 Christine Russell Labour Party
Den Dover Chorley 1979 Lindsay Hoyle Labour Party
Michael Brown Brigg and Cleethorpes, contesting Cleethorpes 1979 Shona McIsaac Labour Party
Rod Richards Clwyd North West, contesting Clwyd West Under-Secretary of State for Wales (1994-1996) 1992 Gareth Thomas Labour Party
Graham Riddick Colne Valley 1987 Kali Mountford Labour Party
William Powell Corby 1983 Phil Hope Labour Party
Malcolm Thornton Crosby 1979 Claire Curtis-Thomas Labour Party
David Congdon Croydon North East, contesting Croydon Central 1992 Geraint Davies Labour Party
Bob Dunn Dartford 1979 Howard Stoate Labour Party
Greg Knight Derby North Minister of State for Industry (1996-1997) 1983 Bob Laxton Labour Party
Edwina Currie South Derbyshire Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (1986-1988) 1983 Mark Todd Labour Party
David Shaw Dover 1987 Gwyn Prosser Labour Party
Harry Greenway Ealing North 1979 Stephen Pound Labour Party
Malcolm Rifkind Edinburgh Pentlands Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1995-1997) 1974 Lynda Clark Labour Party
James Douglas-Hamilton Edinburgh West Minister of State for Scotland (1995-1997) 1974 Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrats (UK)
Ian Twinn Edmonton 1983 Andy Love Labour Party
Spencer Batiste Elmet 1983 Colin Burgon Labour Party
Michael Portillo Enfield Southgate Secretary of State for Defence (1995-1997) 1984 Stephen Twigg Labour Party
Angela Knight Erewash Economic Secretary to the Treasury (1995-1997) 1992 Liz Blackman Labour Party
Sebastian Coe Falmouth and Camborne 1992 Candy Atherton Labour Party
John Marsahll Hendon South, contesting Finchley and Golders Green 1987 Rudi Vis Labour Party
Paul Marland West Gloucestershire, contesting Forest of Dean 1979 Diana Organ Labour Party
Ian Lang Galloway and Upper Nithsdale President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Trade & Industry (1995-1997) 1979 Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party
Andrew Mitchell Gedling Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (1995-1997) 1987 Vernon Coaker Labour Party
James Couchman Gillingham 1983 Paul Clark Labour Party
Douglas French Gloucester 1987 Tess Kingham Labour Party
Jacques Arnold Gravesham 1987 Chris Pond Labour Party
Michael Carttiss Great Yarmouth 1983 Anthony Wright Labour Party
Matthew Carrington Fulham, contesting Hammersmith and Fulham 1987 Iain Coleman Labour Party
Jerry Hayes Harlow 1983 Bill Rammell Labour Party
Norman Lamont Kingston-upon-Thames, contesting Harrogate and Knaresborough Chancellor of the Exchequer (1990-1993) 1972 Phil Willis Liberal Democrats
Hugh Dykes Harrow East 1970 Tony McNulty Labour Party
Robert Hughes Harrow West 1987 Gareth Thomas Labour Party
Iain Sproat Harwich Minister for Sport (1993-1997) 1992 Ivan Henderson Labour Party
Jacqui Lait Hastings and Rye Assistant Whip (1996-1997) 1992 Michael Foster Labour Party
Robert Jones West Hertfordshire, contesting Hemel Hempstead Minister of State for Construction (1995-1997) 1983 Tony McWalter Labour Party
John Gorst Hendon North, contesting Hendon 1970 Andrew Dismore Labour Party
Colin Shepherd Hereford 1974 Paul Keetch Liberal Democrats (UK)
Charles Hendry High Peak 1992 Tom Levitt Labour Party
Robin Squire Hornchurch Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education (1995-1997) 1979 John Cryer Labour Party
Vivian Bendall Ilford North 1978 Linda Perham Labour Party
Gary Waller Keighley 1979 Ann Cryer Labour Party
Roger Freeman Kettering Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1995-1997) 1983 Phil Sawford Labour Party
Richard Tracey Surbiton, contesting Kingston and Surbiton Minister for Sport (1985-1987) 1983 Ed Davey Liberal Democrats
Keith Mans Wyre, contesting Lancaster and Wyre 1987 Hilton Dawson Labour Party
Timothy Kirkhope Leeds North East Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (1995-1997) 1987 Fabian Hamilton Labour Party
Keith Hampson Leeds North West 1974 Harold Best Labour Party
Tim Rathbone Lewes 1974 Norman Baker Liberal Democrats
Graham Bright Luton South 1979 Margaret Moran Labour Party
Peggy Fenner Medway 1979 Bob Marshall-Andrews Labour Party
Michael Bates Langbaurgh, contesting Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Paymaster-General (1996-1997) 1992 Ashok Kumar Labour Party
Barry Legg Milton Keynes South West 1992 Phyllis Starkey Labour Party
Angela Rumbold Mitcham and Morden 1982 Siobhain McDonagh Labour Party
Roger Evans Monmouth Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Social Security (1994-1997) 1992 Huw Edwards Labour Party
Mark Lennox-Boyd Morecambe and Lunesdale Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Foreign Office (1990-1994) 1979 Geraldine Smith Labour Party
Richard Alexander Newark 1979 Fiona Jones Labour Party
Peter Butler North East Milton Keynes 1992 Brian White Labour Party
Bill Walker Tayside North 1979 John Swinney Scottish National Party
Henry Bellingham North West Norfolk 1983 George Turner Labour Party
Tony Marlow Northampton North 1979 Sally Keeble Labour Party
Michael Morris Northampton South Chairman of Ways and Means (1992-1997) 1974 Tony Clarke Labour Party
John Cope Northavon Paymaster General (1992-1994) 1974 Steve Webb Liberal Democrats
Peter Griffiths Portsmouth North 1979 Syd Rapson Labour Party
David Martin Portsmouth South 1987 Mike Hancock Liberal Democrats
David Mellor Putney Secretary of State for National Heritage (1992) 1979 Tony Colman Labour Party
John Watts Slough, contesting Reading East Minister of State for Transport (1994-1997) 1983 Jane Griffiths Labour Party
Jeremy Hanley Richmond and Barnes, contesting Richmond Park Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1995-1997) 1983 Jenny Tonge Liberal Democrats
Michael Neubert Romford Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces (1994-1997) 1974 Eileen Gordon Labour Party
Jim Pawsey Rugby and Kenilworth 1979 Andy King Labour Party
John Sykes Scarborough, contesting Scarborough and Whitby 1992 Lawrie Quinn Labour Party
Irvine Patnick Sheffield Hallam Lord Commissioner of the Treasury (1990-1994) 1987 Richard Allan Liberal Democrats
Marcus Fox Shipley Chairman of the 1922 Committee (1992-1997) 1970 Chris Leslie Labour Party
Derek Conway Shrewsbury and Atcham Vice-Chamberlain of the Household (1996-1997) 1983 Paul Marsden Labour Party
Roger Moate Faversham, contesting Sittingbourne and Sheppey 1970 Derek Wyatt Labour Party
Mark Robinson Somerton and Frome 1992 David Heath Liberal Democrats
Robert Atkins South Ribble Minister of State for Environment and Countryside (1994-1995) 1979 David Borrow Labour Party
Simon Coombs Swindon, contesting Swindon South 1983 Julia Drown Labour Party
Jonathan Aitken South Thanet Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1994-1995) 1974 Stephen Ladyman Labour Party
James Hill Southampton Test 1979 Alan Whitehead Labour Party
Matthew Gordon-Banks Southport 1992 Ronnie Fearn Liberal Democrats
Timothy Wood Stevenage Comptroller of the Household (1995-1997) 1983 Barbara Follett Labour Party
Michael Forsyth Stirling Secretary of State for Scotland (1995-1997) 1983 Anne McGuire Labour Party
Tim Devlin Stockton South 1987 Dari Taylor Labour Party
Warren Hawksley Halesowen and Stourbridge, contesting Stourbridge 1992 Debra Shipley Labour Party
Roger Knapman Stroud Lord Commissioner of the Treasury (1996-1997) 1987 David Drew Labour Party
Olga Maitland Sutton and Cheam 1992 Paul Burstow Liberal Democrats
Neil Hamilton Tatton Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs (1992-1994) 1983 Martin Bell Independent
David Nicholson Taunton 1987 Jackie Ballard Liberal Democrats
Rupert Allason Torbay 1987 Adrian Sanders Liberal Democrats
Toby Jessel Twickenham 1970 Vince Cable Liberal Democrats
Nicholas Bonsor Upminster Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (1995-1997) 1979 Keith Darvill Labour Party
Walter Sweeney Vale of Glamorgan 1992 John Smith Labour Party
Dudley Smith Warwick and Leamington 1968 James Plaskitt Labour Party
David Porter Waveney 1987 Bob Blizzard Labour Party
Peter Fry Wellingborough 1969 Paul Stinchcombe Labour Party
David Evans Welwyn Hatfield 1987 Melanie Johnson Labour Party
Charles Goodson-Wickes Wimbledon 1987 Roger Casale Labour Party
Gerry Malone Winchester 1992 Mark Oaten Liberal Democrats
David Hunt Wirral West Secretary of State for Wales (1995) 1976 Stephen Hesford Labour Party
Nicholas Budgen Wolverhampton South West 1974 Jenny Jones Labour Party
Anthony Coombs Wyre Forest 1987 David Lock Labour Party
Liberal Democrats

Diana Maddock Christchurch 1993 Christopher Chope Conservative Party
Chris Davies Littleborough and Saddleworth, contesting Oldham East and Saddleworth 1995 Phil Woolas Labour Party
Liz Lynne Rochdale 1992 Lorna Fitzsimons Labour Party
Social Democratic and Labour Party Joe Hendron Belfast West 1992 Gerry Adams Sinn Féin
Democratic Unionist Party William McCrea Mid Ulster 1983 Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin
Referendum Party George Gardiner[21] Reigate 1974 Crispin Blunt Conservative Party

Post-election events

The poor results for the Conservative Party led to infighting, with the One Nation group, Tory Reform Group, and right-wing Maastricht Rebels blaming each other for the defeat. Party chairman Brian Mawhinney said on the night of the election that defeat was due to disillusionment with 18 years of Conservative rule. John Major resigned as party leader, saying "When the curtain falls, it is time to leave the stage".[22]

Following the defeat, the Conservatives began their longest continuous spell in opposition in the history of the present day (post–Tamworth Manifesto) Conservative Party, and indeed the longest such spell for any incarnation of the Tories/Conservatives since the 1760s, lasting 13 years, including the whole of the 2000s.[23] Throughout this period, their representation in the Commons remained consistently below 200 MPs.

Meanwhile Paddy Ashdown's continued leadership of the Liberal Democrats was assured, and they were felt to be in a position to build positively as a strong third party into the new millennium,[24] culminating in their sharing power in the 2010 coalition with the Conservatives.

Internet coverage

With the huge rise in internet use since the previous general election, BBC News created a special website - BBC Politics 97 - covering the election.[25] This site was an experiment for the efficiency of an online news service which was due for a launch later in the year.[26]

See also


  1. ^ Conservative party leader John Major resigned as Leader of the Conservative Party on 22 June 1995 to face critics in his party and government, and was reelected as Leader on 4 July 1995. Prior to his resignation he had held the post of Leader of the Conservative Party since 28 November 1990.[1]


  1. ^ "1995: Major wins Conservative leadership". BBC News. 4 July 1995.
  2. ^ "UK Politics - The Major Scandal Sheet". BBC.
  3. ^ a b Greenslade, Roy (18 March 1997). "It's the Sun wot's switched sides to back Blair". The Guardian.
  4. ^ a b c Hermann, Michael; Munzert, Simon; Selb, Peter (4 November 2015). "The conventional wisdom about tactical voting is wrong". London School of Economics British Politics and Policy blog. London School of Economics. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  5. ^ "The Election. The Statistics. How the UK voted on May 1st". BBC Politics 97. BBC. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  6. ^ Harman, Harriet (10 April 2017). "Labour's 1997 victory was a watershed for women but our gains are at risk". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  7. ^ "1997: Labour landslide ends Tory rule". BBC News. 15 April 2005. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  8. ^ "House of Lords Debates 17 March 1997 vol 579 cc653-4: Dissolution of Parliament". House of Lords Hansard. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Advertising & Promotion: Ads contract election fever". Campaign. 20 March 1997. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  10. ^ a b Snowdon 2010, p. 4.
  11. ^ Travis, Alan (17 April 1997). "Rebels' seven-year march". The Guardian (London).
  12. ^ Bevins, Anthony (17 April 1997). "Election '97: John Major takes on the Tories". The Independent. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  13. ^ Snowdon 2010, p. 35.
  14. ^ Stoddard, Katy (4 May 2010). "Newspaper support in UK general elections". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Kelly, Richard (21 August 2018). "Women in the House of Commons: Background Paper". House of Commons Library. UK Parliament. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  16. ^ Flint, Caroline; Spelman, Caroline (4 May 2017). "How the Class of '97 Changed Westminster". Politics Home - The House. Politics Home. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  17. ^ Kirk, Ashley; Scott, Patrick (17 June 2017). "General election 2017 sees record number of women candidates". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  18. ^ Blaxill, Luke; Beelen, Kaspar (25 July 2016). "Women in Parliament since 1945: have they changed the debate?". History & Policy - Policy Papers. Retrieved 8 July 2020. We suggest that 1997 was significant because it helped normalise a large female presence at Westminster which absolved women MPs of the obligation to act as 'token women' and thus as spokeswomen for their sex.
  19. ^ Childs, Sarah (2000). "The new labour women MPs in the 1997 British parliament: issues of recruitment and representation". Women's History Review. Routledge (Taylor & Francis). 9 (1): 55–73. doi:10.1080/09612020000200228. ISSN 1747-583X. The research suggests that women MPs consider that women’s presence has the potential to transform the parliamentary political agenda and style.
  20. ^ Morgan, Bryn (February 1999). "General Election Results, 1 May 1997" (PDF). Factsheet No. 68. House of Commons Information Office. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  21. ^ Elected as a Conservative MP
  22. ^ "Major players: The 1990 generation". TotalPolitics.com. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  23. ^ Kettle, Martin (13 May 2010). "Tories rule: but liberal Tories with a New Labour legacy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  24. ^ "BBC Politics 97". BBC. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  25. ^ "BBC Politics 97". BBC Politics 97. BBC. 1997. Retrieved 8 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Major events influenced BBC's news online | FreshNetworks blog". Freshnetworks.com. 5 June 2008. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010.

Further reading

  • Butler, David and Dennis Kavanagh. The British General Election of 1997 (1997), the standard scholarly study
  • Snowdon, Peter (2010) [2010]. Back from the Brink: The Extraordinary Fall and Rise of the Conservative Party. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-730884-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)


External links