2010 United Kingdom general election

2010 United Kingdom general election

← 2005 6 May 2010 (2010-05-06) 2015 →

All 650 seats in the House of Commons
326 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout 65.1% (Increase3.7%)
  First party Second party Third party
  David Cameron Gordon Brown Nick Clegg
Leader David Cameron Gordon Brown Nick Clegg
Party Conservative Labour Liberal Democrats
Leader since 6 December 2005 24 June 2007 18 December 2007
Leader's seat Witney Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath Sheffield Hallam
Last election 198 seats, 32.4% 355 seats, 35.2% 62 seats, 22.0%
Seats before 210 349 62
Seats won 306 258 57
Seat change Increase 96 Decrease 97 Decrease 5
Popular vote 10,703,754 8,609,527 6,836,824
Percentage 36.1% 29.0% 23.0%
Swing Increase 3.7 pp Decrease 6.2 pp Increase 1.0 pp

Colours denote the winning party, as shown in the main table of results
  • excluding the Speaker
  • owing to electoral boundaries changing, this figure is notional

House of Commons (Start of 55th Parliament).svg
Composition of the House of Commons after the election

Prime Minister before election

Gordon Brown

Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister after negotiations

David Cameron and Nick Clegg

The 2010 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday, 6 May 2010, with 45,597,461 registered voters[1] entitled to vote to elect members to the House of Commons. The election took place in 650 constituencies[note 2] across the United Kingdom under the first-past-the-post system. The election resulted in a large swing to the Conservatives similar to that seen in 1979; Labour lost its 70-seat majority it previously enjoyed. However, none of the parties achieved the 326 seats needed for an overall majority. The Conservative Party, led by David Cameron, won the largest number of votes and seats, but still fell 20 seats short. This resulted in a hung parliament where no party was able to command a majority in the House of Commons. This was only the second general election since the Second World War to return a hung parliament, the first being the February 1974 election however unlike then the potential for such an outcome had been anticipated, and subsequently the politicians and the country as a whole was much better prepared for the constitutional process that would follow such a result.[2] The coalition government that was subsequently formed was the first coalition in British history to eventuate directly from an election outcome. The hung parliament came about in spite of the Conservatives managing both a higher vote total and higher share of the vote than the previous Labour government had done in 2005, when it secured a comfortable majority. A total of 149 sitting MPs stood down at the election, the highest since 1945, including many former New Labour Cabinet ministers such as former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Alan Milburn, Geoff Hoon, Ruth Kelly, James Purnell and John Reid. One reason for the very high number of MPs standing down was the parliamentary expenses scandal a year earlier.

Coalition talks began immediately between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, and lasted for five days. There was an aborted attempt to put together a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition (although other smaller parties would have been required to make up the eleven seats they lacked for a majority). To facilitate this, Gordon Brown announced on the evening of Monday 10 May that he would resign as Leader of the Labour Party. Realising that a deal between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats was imminent, the next day on Tuesday 11 May Brown announced his resignation[3] as Prime Minister, marking the end of 13 years of Labour government.[3] This was accepted by Queen Elizabeth II, who then invited David Cameron to form a government in her name and become Prime Minister. Just after midnight on 12 May, the Liberal Democrats emerged from a meeting of their Parliamentary party and Federal Executive to announce that the coalition deal had been "approved overwhelmingly",[4][5] sealing a coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

None of the three main party leaders had previously led a general election campaign, a situation which had not occurred since the 1979 election. During the campaign, the three main party leaders engaged in a series of televised debates, the first such debates in a UK general election campaign. The Liberal Democrats achieved a breakthrough in opinion polls after the first debate, in which their leader Nick Clegg was widely seen as the strongest performer. Nonetheless, on polling day their share of the vote increased by only 1% over the previous general election, and they suffered a net loss of five seats. This was still the Liberal Democrats' largest popular vote since the party's creation in 1988, and they found themselves in a pivotal role in the formation of the new government. The share of votes for parties other than Labour or the Conservatives was 35%, the largest since the 1918 general election. In terms of votes it was the most "three-cornered" election since 1923, and in terms of seats since 1929. The Green Party of England and Wales won its first ever seat in the House of Commons, and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland also gained its first elected member.[6] The general election saw a 5.1% national swing from Labour to the Conservatives, the third-largest since 1945. The result in one constituency, Oldham East and Saddleworth, was subsequently declared void on petition because of illegal practices during the campaign, the first such instance since 1910.


The prime minister, Gordon Brown, went to Buckingham Palace on 6 April and asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament on 12 April, confirming in a live press conference in Downing Street, as had long been speculated, that the election would be held on 6 May,[7] five years since the previous election on 5 May 2005. The election took place on 6 May in 649 constituencies across the United Kingdom, under the first-past-the-post system, for seats in the House of Commons. Voting in the Thirsk and Malton constituency[note 2] was postponed for three weeks because of the death of a candidate.

The governing Labour Party had campaigned to secure a fourth consecutive term in office and to restore support lost since 2001.[8] The Conservative Party sought to gain a dominant position in British politics after losses in the 1990s, and to replace Labour as the governing party. The Liberal Democrats hoped to make gains from both sides and hoped to hold the balance of power in a hung parliament. Since the televised debates between the three leaders, their poll ratings had risen to the point where many considered the possibility of a Liberal Democrat role in Government.[9] Polls just before election day saw a slight swing from the Liberal Democrats back to Labour and Conservatives, with the majority of final polls falling within one point of Conservatives 36%, Labour 29%, Liberal Democrats 23%.[10][11] However, record numbers of undecided voters raised uncertainty about the outcome.[12][13] The Scottish National Party, encouraged by their victory in the 2007 Scottish parliament elections, set itself a target of 20 MPs and was hoping to find itself holding a balance of power.[14] Equally, Plaid Cymru sought gains in Wales. Smaller parties which had had successes at local elections and the 2009 European elections (UK Independence Party, Green Party, British National Party) looked to extend their representation to seats in the House of Commons. The Democratic Unionist Party looked to maintain, if not extend, its number of seats, having been the fourth largest party in the House of Commons.

The key dates were:

Monday 12 April Dissolution of Parliament (the 54th) and campaigning officially began
Tuesday 20 April Last day to file nomination papers, to register to vote, and to request a postal vote[15]
Thursday 6 May Polling day
Tuesday 11 May David Cameron became Prime Minister through a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.
Tuesday 18 May New Parliament (the 55th) assembled
Tuesday 25 May State Opening of Parliament
Thursday 27 May Voting took place in the delayed poll in the constituency of Thirsk and Malton[note 2]
Friday 5 November Oldham East and Saddleworth election result voided on petition at an election court, causing a by-election

MPs declining re-election

This election had an unusually high number of MPs choosing not to seek re-election with more standing down than did so at the 1945 general election (which on account of the extraordinary wartime circumstances came ten years after the preceding election).[17] This has been attributed to the 2009 expenses scandal and the fact there was talk that redundancy-style payments for departing MPs might be scrapped after the election.[18]

In all, 149 MPs (100 Labour, 35 Conservatives, 7 Liberal Democrats, 2 Independents, 1 Independent Conservative and 1 member each from the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the DUP, and the SDLP) decided not to contest the election. Additionally, three seats were vacant at the time of the dissolution of Parliament; two due to the deaths of Labour MPs and one due to the resignation in January 2010 of a DUP member.

Boundary changes

The hypothetical results of the 2005 election, if they had taken place with the new boundaries

Each of the four national boundary commissions is required by the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 (as amended by the Boundary Commissions Act 1992) to conduct a general review of all the constituencies in its part of the United Kingdom every eight to twelve years to ensure the size and composition of constituencies are as fair as possible. Based on the Rallings and Thrasher studies using ward by ward data from local elections and the 2005 general election, the new boundaries used in 2010 would have returned nine fewer Labour MPs had they been in place at the previous election; given that there are to be four more seats in the next parliament this nationally reduces Labour's majority from 66 to 48.[19]

Pursuant to Boundary Commission for England recommendations, the number of seats in England increased by four, and numerous changes were made to the existing constituency boundaries.[20]

Northern Ireland continued to elect 18 MPs, but minor changes were made to the eastern constituencies in accordance with the Northern Ireland Boundary Commission's recommendations.[21] For the first time, these changes include the splitting of an electoral ward between two constituencies.

Following the recommendations of the Boundary Commission for Wales, the total number of seats remained at 40, although new seats caused by radical redrawing of boundaries in Clwyd and Gwynedd were fought for the first time: Arfon and Dwyfor Meirionnydd replaced Caernarfon and Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, respectively; Aberconwy replaced Conwy. At the time of the election Welsh constituencies had electorates on average around 14,000 smaller than their counterparts in England.[22]

Scotland saw its most recent large-scale review completed in 2004, so its 59 constituencies remained the same as at the 2005 general election.

Hypothetical UK General Election 2005 on new 2010 boundaries
Party Seats Votes
Count Gain Loss Net Of total (%) Of total (%) Count ±
  Labour 349 −6 53.7 35.2 9,552,436
  Conservative 210 +12 32.3 32.4 8,784,915
  Liberal Democrats 62 9.5 22.1 5,985,454
  Plaid Cymru 2 −1 0.3 0.6 174,838
  Other parties 27 4.2 9.7 2,650,867
  Total 650 27,148,510

Contesting parties

Main parties

All three main parties went into the general election having changed leaders since 2005. David Cameron became Conservative leader in December 2005, replacing Michael Howard. Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister in June 2007. Nick Clegg was elected as leader of the Liberal Democrats in December 2007, succeeding Menzies Campbell who had replaced Charles Kennedy in January 2006. The last time all three main parties went into a general election with new leaders was in the 1979 election, when James Callaghan as Labour leader, Margaret Thatcher for the Conservatives, and David Steel with the then-Liberal Party took to the polls.

The prospect of a coalition or minority government was being considered well before polling day. Gordon Brown made comments about the possibility of a coalition in January 2010.[23] In 2009, it was reported that senior civil servants were to meet with the Liberal Democrats to discuss their policies, an indication of how seriously the prospect of a hung parliament was being taken.[24] Nick Clegg[25] and Menzies Campbell[26] had continued the position of Charles Kennedy of not being prepared to form a coalition with either main party and of voting against any Queen's Speech unless there was an unambiguous commitment in it to introduce proportional representation.

Other parties

Other parties with representation at Westminster after the previous general election included the Scottish National Party, with six parliamentary seats, Plaid Cymru from Wales with three seats, and Respect – The Unity Coalition and Health Concern, each of which held one parliamentary seat in England. Since that election, the SNP won the 2007 Scottish Parliament elections and currently control the Scottish Government, and also won the largest share of the 2009 European Parliament election vote in Scotland.[27] In Wales, the Labour Party remained the largest party in the Welsh Assembly, although Plaid Cymru increased their share of the vote and formed a coalition government with Labour.[28]

In 2009 the Ulster Unionist Party and the Conservative Party announced they had formed an electoral alliance whereby the two parties would field joint candidates for future elections under the banner of "Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force".[29] However, this caused the sole UUP MP Lady Sylvia Hermon to resign from the party on 25 March 2010, leaving them with no representation at Westminster for the first time in their history.[30]

Many constituencies were contested by other, smaller parties. Parties that won no representatives at Westminster in 2005 but have seats in the devolved assemblies or European Parliament included the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, the Progressive Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, the British National Party, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and the Green parties in the UK: the Green Party of England and Wales, the Scottish Green Party, and the Green Party in Northern Ireland. In 2009, Nigel Farage announced his intention to resign as UKIP leader to focus on becoming an MP. Farage was replaced in an election by party members by Lord Pearson of Rannoch, whose stated intention was for the electoral support of UKIP to force a hung parliament. The Green Party of England and Wales voted to have a position of leader for the first time; the first leadership election was won by Caroline Lucas, who successfully contested the constituency of Brighton Pavilion.

In addition, a new loose coalition, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), contested a general election for the first time. TUSC was a grouping of left wing parties that participated in the 2009 European Parliament elections under the name of No2EU; members included the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Alliance, Socialist Resistance, and is supported by some members of UNISON, the National Union of Teachers, the University and College Union, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, and the Public and Commercial Services Union. Several members of these unions ran as candidates under the TUSC banner.[31] However, some former members of NO2EU, such as the Liberal Party[citation needed] and the Communist Party of Britain,[32] chose not to participate in the TUSC campaign. The coalition did not run candidates against left wing Labour or Respect candidates.[33][34]



The prospective Labour candidate for Moray, Stuart Maclennan, was sacked after making offensive comments on his Twitter page, referring to elderly voters as "coffin dodgers" and voters in the North of Scotland as "teuchters", and insulting politicians such as Cameron, Clegg, John Bercow and Diane Abbott.[35]

The UKIP candidate for Thirsk and Malton—John Boakes—died, causing the election in the constituency to be postponed until 27 May.[36][37][38][39]

Philip Lardner, the Conservative candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran, was suspended from the party for comments he made about homosexuality on his website, describing it as not "normal behaviour". Andrew Fulton, the chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party, called the comments "deeply offensive and unacceptable", adding: "These views have no place in the modern Conservative party." However, he still appeared as a Conservative candidate because it was too late to remove his name from the ballot paper.[40]

A total of 2,378 postal voters in Bristol West were wrongly sent ballot papers for Bristol East by mistake. Bristol City Council officials asked people to tear up the wrong papers and said: "Every effort will be made to ensure delivery [of new ballot papers] by 30 April."[41]

The SNP attempted but failed to ban the broadcast of the final party leaders' debate in Scotland, in a court action. They had argued that "the corporation [the BBC] had breached its rules on impartiality by excluding the SNP". The judge, Lady Smith, ruled that "the SNP's case 'lacks the requisite precision and clarity'" and added she could not "conclude the BBC had breached impartiality rules". Additionally, broadcasting regulator Ofcom ruled that it had not "upheld complaints received from the SNP and Plaid Cymru about The First Election Debate broadcast on ITV1 on Thursday 15 April 2010".[42]

An election sign in a residential property.

The leader of the UK Independence Party, Lord Pearson, wrote an open letter to Somerset newspapers, asking voters to support Conservative candidates, rather than UKIP candidates in the Somerton and Frome, Taunton Deane and Wells constituencies. This action was criticised by UKIP candidates who refused to stand down.[43]

The Labour candidate for Bristol East and former MP Kerry McCarthy revealed information about postal votes cast in the constituency on Twitter. Avon and Somerset police said they were "looking into a possible alleged breach of electoral law". Bristol City Council stated: "This is a criminal matter and [it] will be for the police to decide what action to take."[44]

The former Prime Minister Tony Blair returned to the campaign trail for Labour, visiting a polyclinic in Harrow West, after a troubled Labour campaign.[45]

Postal voters in the marginal Vale of Glamorgan constituency had to be issued with new ballot papers after mistakenly being told they did not have to sign applications for postal votes.[46]

A group of entrepreneurs warned on the dangers of a Labour-Liberal coalition in an open letter to The Times on 29 April.[47][48][49]

Gordon Brown, while in his Prime Ministerial Car on 28 April, privately described a 65-year-old woman and lifelong Labour voter, Gillian Duffy, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, a Labour-Liberal Democrat marginal seat, as a "bigoted woman". She had asked him about vulnerable people supposedly not receiving benefits because immigrants were receiving them, adding: "You can't say anything about the immigrants because you're saying that you're ... but all these eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?" He replied: "A million people have come from Europe but a million British people have gone into Europe."[50][51] Brown's conversation with his communications director Justin Forsyth (JF) went:

  • "GB: That was a disaster. Sue [Susan Nye, Brown's gatekeeper] should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that?
  • JF: I don't know, I didn't see her.
  • GB: Sue's I think. Just ridiculous ...
  • JF: What did she say?
  • GB: Everything, she was just a sort of bigoted woman who said she used to be Labour. I mean, it's just ridiculous. Sue pushed her up towards me."[52]

Brown's remarks were recorded by a Sky News microphone he was still wearing, and widely broadcast. It was later said that Brown had misheard Duffy and thought she had asked, "where are they fucking from?"[53][54][55] Soon after the incident, Brown talked to Jeremy Vine live on BBC Radio 2 where he publicly apologised to Mrs Duffy. American comedian Jon Stewart commented that the clip showed the moment when Brown's "political career leaves his body".[56] Subsequently, Brown visited her house for 43 minutes in order to apologise in person. Upon emerging, he described himself as a "penitent sinner",[57] while Duffy refused to speak to the press and would not shake hands with him in front of the cameras. She said the incident had left her feeling more sad than angry and that she would not be voting for Labour or any other party.[58] The incident was subsequently dubbed "Bigotgate", which was later added to the Collins English Dictionary.[59] Despite this, Labour went on to gain the seat from the Liberal Democrats, one of the few gains they made in the election.


In Hornsey and Wood Green constituency 749 postal voters were sent ballot papers which asked voters to pick three candidates instead of one; Haringey Council had to send correct versions by hand.[60]

The Metropolitan Police launched an investigation in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The Times reported on 2 May that the investigation had revealed some names on the register were fictitious, with a late surge in applications to be added to the electoral register (before 20 April deadline) leading to 5,000 additions without time for full checks.[61] In terms of the outcome of the borough's two seats, the narrower majority in any event exceeded 5,000 votes in Poplar and Limehouse, at 6,030 votes.

The Labour candidate for North West Norfolk, Manish Sood, described Gordon Brown as Britain's worst ever Prime Minister.[62] The comments, which he repeated to a variety of news outlets, took attention away from the previous day's speech by Brown to Citizens UK, widely described as his best in the campaign.[63][64]

A Conservative Party activist in Peterborough was arrested after alleged postal voting fraud, calling into question 150 postal votes.[65]

Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, talking to voters in Romford Market.

Simon Bennett resigned as the head of the British National Party's online operation then redirected its website to his own on which he attacked the party's leadership.[66]

Polling station in Camberwell

On the morning of polling day, 6 May, the former and later leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, standing in Buckingham against the Speaker, was injured when a light banner-towing aircraft in which he was a passenger crashed near Brackley, Northamptonshire.[67]

Groups of voters waiting in queues at 10 pm were locked out of polling stations in Sheffield Hallam, Manchester and Leeds; and police said one London polling station was open until 10.30 pm, which triggered a national review of polling station requirements led by the Electoral Commission.[68]

The counts for the Foyle and East Londonderry constituencies were suspended because of a security alert around 11 pm after a car was abandoned outside the counting centre, causing a bomb scare.


Following a campaign by Sky News and with agreement of the party leaders,[69] it was announced on 21 December 2009 that there would be three leaders' debates, each broadcast on prime time television,[70] and a subsequent announcement in March 2010 that a debate between the financial spokesmen of the three main parties, Alistair Darling, George Osborne and Vince Cable would be held on 29 March.[71]

Date Host Location Moderator Subject
15 April ITV Manchester Alastair Stewart Domestic policy
In instant polling after the event Nick Clegg was judged the clear winner.[72] This first debate caused a large, immediate, and unexpected impact on opinion polls in favour of the Liberal Democrats.
22 April Sky News Bristol Adam Boulton International affairs
Nick Clegg and David Cameron came out best in the instant polls with Gordon Brown very closely behind. Nick Clegg, having received such a surge after the first debate, was judged to have fended off Labour and Conservative Party attacks. Gordon Brown was judged to have drastically improved his performance, and David Cameron was judged to have overcome the nerves that commentators believed affected him in the First Debate.[73] In the build-up, the Liberal Democrats were affected by claims Clegg had received secret donations from businessmen, although he subsequently released his financial statements to show that no improper conduct had occurred.[74]
29 April BBC Birmingham David Dimbleby Economy and taxes
In the third and final poll, David Cameron was widely regarded as the party leader who made the best impression to the audience at home.[75][76][77][78][79] At the end of the debating night, the Conservatives had gained a 5% lead over Labour.

The SNP insisted that as the leading political party in Scotland in the latest opinion poll, it should be included in any debate broadcast in Scotland.[80] On 22 December 2009, the UKIP leader, Lord Pearson stated that his party should also be included. Following a decision by the BBC Trust not to uphold a complaint from the SNP and Plaid Cymru over their exclusion from the planned BBC debate, the SNP announced on 25 April that they would proceed with legal action over the debate scheduled for 29 April.[81] The party said it was not trying to stop the broadcast but it wanted an SNP politician included for balance. The SNP lost the case, in a judgement delivered on 28 April.[82]

Opinion polls

A polling station in Wetherby, West Yorkshire

Since each MP is elected separately by the first past the post voting system, it is impossible to precisely project a clear election outcome from overall UK shares of the vote. Not only can individual constituencies vary markedly from overall voting trends, but individual countries and regions within the UK may have a very different electoral contest that is not properly reflected in overall share of the vote figures.

Immediately following the previous general election, Labour held a double-digit lead in opinion polls. However, over the course of 2005, this lead was eroded somewhat. By December 2005, the Conservative party showed its first small leads in opinion polls following the controversial 90 days' detention proposals and the election of David Cameron to the leadership of the Conservative party.[83]

In early 2006, opinion polls were increasingly mixed with small leads given alternately to Labour and Conservative. From the May 2006 local elections, in which Labour suffered significant losses, the Conservatives took a small single-digit lead in opinion polls. Labour regained the lead in June 2007 following the resignation of Tony Blair and the appointment of Gordon Brown as prime minister. From November 2007, the Conservatives again took the lead and, from then, extended their lead into double digits, particularly in response to the MPs' expenses scandal, although there was some evidence that the lead narrowed slightly towards the end of 2009. By the end of February 2010, Ipsos MORI, ICM, YouGov and ComRes polls had all found a sufficient narrowing of the Conservative lead for media speculation about a hung parliament to return.[84]

From 15 April 2010, following the first televised debate of the party leaders, polling data changed dramatically, with the Lib Dem vote proportion rising to 28–33%, and the Conservative vote proportion falling. In some polls, the Liberal Democrats took the lead from the Conservatives. Under UNS projections, this made a hung parliament highly probable, if Lib Dem performance had persisted.[85]

The following graph shows ComRes poll results recorded over the period 11 April – 6 May 2010, including annotations of the three TV debates:

ComRes Graph Election 2010.JPG

After the second debate on 22 April the polls, on average, placed the Conservatives in the lead on 33%, the Liberal Democrats in second on 30% and Labour in third on 28%. If these polls had reflected the election day results on a uniform swing nationwide, Labour would have had the most seats in a hung Parliament.

Exit poll

At 22:00 on election day, coinciding with the closure of the polls, the results of an exit poll completed by GfK NOP and Ipsos MORI on behalf of the BBC, Sky and ITV news services was announced. Data were gathered from individuals at 130 polling stations around the country.

Parties Seats Change
Conservative Party 307 Increase 109
Labour Party 255 Decrease 100
Liberal Democrats 59 Decrease 3
Others 29 N/A
 Conservatives 19 Short of Majority

The results of the poll initially suggested a hung parliament with the Conservative Party 19 seats from a controlling majority; this was later adjusted to 21 seats. The distribution of seats amongst the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and other parties was initially suggested to be 307, 255, 59 and 29, respectively,[86] although the seat numbers were later changed to 303, 251, 69, and 27, respectively.[87]

Initial reaction to the exit poll by various commentators was of surprise at the apparent poor prospects for the Liberal Democrats[88] because it was at odds with many opinion polls undertaken in the previous weeks. The actual results showed that the exit poll was a good predictor.

A later BBC Exit poll (05:36 BST) predicted the Conservatives on 306, 20 short of an overall majority, Labour on 262, and Liberal Democrats on 55.[87]


National newspapers in England traditionally endorse political parties before a general election. The following table shows which parties the major papers endorsed.

The Independent and The Guardian advocated tactical voting to maximise the chance of a Liberal Democrat/Labour coalition to make electoral reform including of the House of Lords and introduction of domestic proportional representation more likely.[92][101]


306 57 258 29
Conservative LD Labour Oth
Party Leader MPs Votes
Of total Of total
Conservative Party David Cameron 306 47.1%
306 / 650
10,703,754 36.1%
Labour Party Gordon Brown 258 39.7%
258 / 650
8,609,527 29.0%
Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg 57 8.8%
57 / 650
6,836,825 23.0%
Democratic Unionist Party Peter Robinson 8 1.2%
8 / 650
168,216 0.6%
Scottish National Party Alex Salmond 6 0.9%
6 / 650
491,386 1.7%
Sinn Féin Gerry Adams 5 0.8%
5 / 650
171,942 0.6%
Plaid Cymru Ieuan Wyn Jones 3 0.5%
3 / 650
165,394 0.6%
Social Democratic & Labour Party Margaret Ritchie 3 0.5%
3 / 650
110,970 0.4%
Green Party Caroline Lucas 1 0.2%
1 / 650
285,616 0.9%
Alliance David Ford 1 0.2%
1 / 650
42,762 0.1%
Speaker John Bercow 1 0.2%
1 / 650
22,860 0.08%[102]
Independent Sylvia Hermon 1 0.2%
1 / 650
21,181 0.07%[103]

Turnout nationally was 65%, a rise from the 61% turnout in the 2005 general election.[104]

e • d Summary of the May 2010 House of Commons of the United Kingdom election results [105]
House of Commons (Start of 55th Parliament).svg
Political party Leader Candidates Votes
Nominated Elected Of total (%) Gained Lost Net Count Proportion
of total (%)
Change in
proportion (%)
Conservative[table 1] David Cameron 631 306 47.1 100 3 +97 10,703,754 36.1 +3.7
Labour Gordon Brown 631 258 39.7 3 94 −91 8,609,527 29.0 −6.2
Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg 631 57 8.8 8 13 −5 6,836,824 23.0 +1.0
UKIP Lord Pearson 558 0 0 0 0 0 919,546 3.1 +0.9
BNP Nick Griffin 338 0 0 0 0 0 564,331 1.9 +1.2
SNP Alex Salmond 59 6 0.9 0 0 0 491,386 1.7 +0.1
Green Caroline Lucas 310 1 0.2 1 0 +1 265,247 0.9 −0.2
Sinn Féin Gerry Adams 17 5 0.8 0 0 0 171,942 0.6 −0.1
DUP Peter Robinson 16 8 1.2 0 1 −1 168,216 0.6 −0.3
Plaid Cymru Ieuan Wyn Jones 40 3 0.5 1 0 +1 165,394 0.6 −0.1
SDLP Margaret Ritchie 18 3 0.5 0 0 0 110,970 0.4 −0.1
UCU-NF Reg Empey 17 0 0 0 1 −1 102,361 0.3 −0.1
English Democrat Robin Tilbrook 107 0 0 0 0 0 64,826 0.2 0.2
Alliance David Ford 18 1 0.2 1 0 +1 42,762 0.1 0.0
Respect Salma Yaqoob 11 0 0 0 1 −1 33,251 0.1 −0.1
TUV Jim Allister 10 0 0 0 0 0 26,300 0.1 N/A
Speaker N/A 1 1 0.2 0 0 0 22,860 0.1 0.0
IndependentRodney Connor N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0 21,300 0.1 N/A
IndependentSylvia Hermon N/A 1 1 0.2 1 0 +1 21,181 0.1 N/A
Christian George Hargreaves 71 0 0 0 0 0 18,623 0.1 +0.1
Scottish Green Eleanor Scott and Patrick Harvie 20 0 0 0 0 0 16,827 0.1 0.0
Health Concern Richard Taylor 1 0 0 0 1 −1 16,150 0.1 0.0
IndependentBob Spink N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0 12,174 0.0 N/A
TUSC Dave Nellist 37 0 0 0 0 0 12,275 0.0 N/A
National Front Ian Edward 17 0 0 0 0 0 10,784 0.0 0.0
Buckinghamshire Campaign for Democracy John Stevens 1 0 0 0 0 0 10,331 0.0 N/A
Monster Raving Loony Howling Laud Hope 27 0 0 0 0 0 7,510 0.0 0.0
Socialist Labour Arthur Scargill 23 0 0 0 0 0 7,196 0.0 −0.1
Liberal Rob Wheway 5 0 0 0 0 0 6,781 0.0 −0.1
Blaenau Gwent PV Dai Davies 1 0 0 0 1 −1 6,458 0.0 −0.1
Christian Peoples Alliance Alan Craig 17 0 0 0 0 0 6,276 0.0 0.0
Mebyon Kernow Dick Cole 6 0 0 0 0 0 5,379 0.0 0.0
Lincolnshire Independent Marianne Overton 3 0 0 0 0 0 5,311 0.0 N/A
Mansfield Independent Forum 1 0 0 0 0 0 4,339 0.0 N/A
Green (NI) Mark Bailey and Karly Greene 4 0 0 0 0 0 3,542 0.0 0.0
Socialist Alternative Peter Taaffe 4 0 0 0 0 0 3,298 0.0 0.0
Trust Stuart Wheeler 2 0 0 0 0 0 3,233 0.0 N/A
Scottish Socialist Colin Fox and Frances Curran 10 0 0 0 0 0 3,157 0.0 −0.1
People Before Profit N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0 2,936 0.0 N/A
Local Liberals People Before Politics 1 0 0 0 0 0 1,964 0.0 N/A
IndependentEsther Rantzen N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0 1,872 0.0 N/A
Alliance for Green Socialism Mike Davies 6 0 0 0 0 0 1,581 0.0 0.0
SDP Peter Johnson 2 0 0 0 0 0 1,551 0.0 N/A
Pirate Andrew Robinson 9 0 0 0 0 0 1,348 0.0 N/A
Common Sense Party Howard Thomas 2 0 0 0 0 0 1,173 0.0 0.0
Staffordshire Independent Group 1 0 0 0 0 0 1,208 0.0 0.0
Tendring First 1 0 0 0 0 0 1,078 0.0 0.0
Solihull and Meriden Residents Association 2 0 0 0 0 0 977 0.0 0.0
Communist Robert Griffiths 6 0 0 0 0 0 947 0.0 0.0
Democratic Labour Brian Powell 1 0 0 0 0 0 842 0.0 0.0
English Independence Party 1 0 0 0 0 0 803 0.0 0.0
Democratic Nationalist Party 2 0 0 0 0 0 753 0.0 N/A
Save King George Hospital 1 0 0 0 0 0 746 0.0 0.0
Workers Revolutionary Sheila Torrance 7 0 0 0 0 0 738 0.0 0.0
Peace John Morris 3 0 0 0 0 0 737 0.0 0.0
Animal Protection N/A 4 0 0 0 0 0 675 0.0 0.0
Christian Movement for Great Britain 2 0 0 0 0 0 598 0.0 0.0
New Millennium Bean Party Captain Beany 1 0 0 0 0 0 558 0.0 0.0
Total 3720 650 100 115 115 0 29,687,604 Turnout: 65.1
  1. ^ This figure excludes John Bercow (Buckingham)

On 27 May 2010 the Conservatives won the final seat of Thirsk and Malton, thus giving them 306 seats. The election in that constituency had been delayed because of the death of the UKIP candidate.[106]

Vote share
Liberal Democrat
UK Independence
British National
Scottish National
Parliamentary seats
Liberal Democrat
Democratic Unionist
Scottish National
Sinn Féin

Voting distribution per constituency

Results of the 2010 general election in the United Kingdom: voting distribution per constituency.

Election petitions

Two results were also challenged by defeated candidates through election petitions – Fermanagh and South Tyrone, and Oldham East and Saddleworth.

The defeated Unionist 'Unity' candidate, Rodney Connor, lodged a petition against the successful Sinn Féin candidate, Michelle Gildernew, in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, alleging irregularities in the counting of the votes had affected the result. Gildernew had won with a plurality of four votes. However, the court found that there were only three ballot papers which could not be accounted for, and even if they were all votes for Connor, Gildernew would have had a plurality of one. The election was therefore upheld.[107]

On 28 May 2010, the defeated Liberal Democrat candidate Elwyn Watkins lodged a petition against the election of Phil Woolas (Labour) in Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency.[108] The petition challenged leaflets issued by Woolas's campaign as having contained false statements of fact concerning Watkins' personal character, which is an illegal practice under section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. The statements attempted to link Watkins with Muslim extremists and death threats to Woolas, accused him of reneging on a promise to live in the constituency, and implied that his campaign was funded by illegal foreign political donations.[109][110]

During the court case a number of emails between Woolas and his campaign team emerged. In one, Woolas's agent, Joe Fitzpatrick, emailed Woolas and campaign adviser Steven Green, to say: "Things are not going as well as I had hoped ... we need to think about our first attack leaflet."[111] A reply from Fitzpatrick said: "If we don't get the white vote angry he's gone."[112] The court hearing finished on 17 September 2010, with the judges reserving their judgement until 5 November 2010.[113] On that day Woolas was found to have breached section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 in relation to three of the four statements complained about, and the judges ruled that his election was void.[114] Phil Woolas applied for a judicial review into the ruling,[115] stating that "this election petition raised fundamental issues about the freedom to question and criticise politicians" and that it "will inevitably chill political speech".[116] He succeeded in overturning the finding in respect of one of the three statements but the main findings of the election court judgment were upheld. A by-election on 13 January 2011 resulted in the election of Debbie Abrahams (Labour).


The disproportionality of the house of parliament in the 2010 election was 15.57 according to the Gallagher Index, with the Liberal Democrats losing out to both the Conservatives and Labour.

At 9:41 on 7 May, the BBC confirmed a hung parliament. The Conservatives stood at 290 seats, Labour at 247 and Liberal Democrats at 51.[2][117] One constituency seat (Thirsk and Malton) was contested on 27 May because of the death of the UKIP candidate and was won by the Conservative Party, whilst another seat (Oldham East and Saddleworth) later had its result declared void; Labour won the resulting by-election.

pie chart of the election results showing popular vote against seats won, coloured in party colours
Proportion of seats (outer ring) shown with proportion of votes (inner ring).

The result showed an overall 5.1% swing from Labour to the Conservatives, the third largest national swing achieved in a General Election since 1945 and similar to the 5.3% swing achieved by the Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher in 1979.[117] The 97 net seat gains made by the Conservatives outdid their previous best gains total in 1950, when they gained 85. Labour's loss of 91 seats was worse than their previous greatest loss of seats, when they lost 77 seats in 1970.

Of the 532 seats contested in England (a final seat, Thirsk and Malton, was contested on 27 May), the Conservatives won 298 seats and an absolute majority of 61 seats over all other parties combined, securing an average swing of 5.6% from Labour.[118] Labour did poorly in many Southern areas, notably in the Eastern Region where they won only two of their 14 seats from 2005: Luton North and Luton South. Labour did, however, gain two seats: Bethnal Green and Bow and Chesterfield. The Conservatives made 95 of their gains in England, but they also suffered three losses, all to the Liberal Democrats. For the Liberal Democrats, their eight gains were overshadowed by their 12 losses – one to Labour and 11 to the Conservatives.

None of Scotland's 59 seats changed hands and all were held by the same party that had won them at the 2005 election, with Labour regaining the two seats they had lost in by-elections since 2005. There was a swing to Labour from the Conservatives of 0.8% (with Labour increasing its share of the vote by 2.5% and the Conservatives increasing by just 0.9%) The Conservatives finished with just a single MP representing a Scottish constituency.

Of the 40 seats contested in Wales, the Conservatives more than doubled their seats from three to eight, taking one from the Liberal Democrats and four from Labour. Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru's number of seats was reduced from three to two on the new seat boundaries, but they managed to gain one seat, Arfon, from Labour. Labour did, however, regain Blaenau Gwent, which had once been Labour's safest seat in Wales until it had been taken by an Independent, Peter Law, in 2005.[119] Overall, Labour made a net loss of 4 seats but remained the biggest party, with 26.

There were 18 seats contested in Northern Ireland. Both Irish nationalist parties, Sinn Féin and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held their seats. The unionist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) (the latter in an electoral pact with the Conservatives), lost one seat each. This left the nationalist parties unchanged with eight seats, the main unionist parties with eight seats (all DUP), the Alliance with one seat and an independent unionist with one seat. It is the first time since the partition of Ireland that unionist parties failed to secure a majority of Northern Ireland's Westminster seats in a general election, and also the first time Sinn Féin obtained the largest share of the vote in Northern Ireland at a general election.[120]

Notable results


Candidate demographics

The election resulted in an increase in the number of MPs from ethnic minorities from 14 to 27, including the first black and Asian female Conservative MPs, Helen Grant and Priti Patel,[129] and the first female Muslim MPs, Rushanara Ali, Shabana Mahmood and Yasmin Qureshi.[130] This means that 4.2% of MPs are from an ethnic minority—in the 2001 Census, it was reported that ethnic minorities comprised 7.9% of the population. The number of female MPs rose to 141, an increase from 19.5% to 21.7% of all MPs, and the highest ever total; the number of female Conservative MPs rose from 18 (8.6% of all Conservatives) to 48 (15.7%).[131]

Voter demographics

Polling after the election suggested the following demographic breakdown:

The 2010 UK general election vote in Great Britain[132][133]
Social group Con Lab Lib Dem Others Lead
Total vote 37 30 24 19 7
Male 38 28 22 12 10
Female 36 31 26 8 4
18–24 30 31 30 9 1
25–34 35 30 29 7 5
35–44 34 31 26 9 3
45–54 34 28 26 12 6
55–64 38 28 23 12 10
65+ 44 31 16 9 13
Men by age
18–24 29 34 27 4 5
25–34 42 23 30 6 12
35–54 36 28 23 13 8
55+ 41 29 16 14 12
Women by age
18–24 30 28 34 9 4
25–34 27 38 27 8 11
35–54 33 31 29 8 2
55+ 42 30 21 7 12
Social class
AB 39 26 29 7 10
C1 39 28 24 9 11
C2 37 29 22 12 8
DE 31 40 17 12 9
Men by social class
AB 44 23 27 7 17
C1 40 28 22 10 12
C2 33 33 19 10 0
DE 32 35 13 20 3
Women by social class
AB 44 28 16 12 16
C1 34 29 31 6 3
C2 41 25 25 9 16
DE 29 45 19 7 16
Housing tenure
Owned 45 24 21 11 21
Mortgage 36 29 26 9 7
Social renter 24 47 19 11 23
Private renter 35 29 27 9 6
Ethnic group
White 38 28 24 8 11
BME 23 65 20 10 40

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland a swing of more than 20% resulted in DUP First Minister Peter Robinson losing his Belfast East[134] seat to the Alliance Party's Naomi Long, giving Alliance its first elected MP in Westminster.

Sir Reg Empey, leader of the UUP/Conservative alliance (UCUNF), standing for the first time in South Antrim, lost to the DUP incumbent William McCrea. Thus both leaders of the main Unionist parties failed to win seats while the UUP for the first time has no MPs at Westminster. A few days after the election, Empey announced that he would resign before the party conference, triggering a leadership election.

Sylvia Hermon, Lady Hermon retained her seat in North Down, significantly increasing her percentage of the vote despite a slightly lower turnout and her defection from the UUP/Conservative alliance to stand as an independent.

New SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie, succeeding Eddie McGrady MP, won against Sinn Féin's Caitriona Ruane in South Down. All of the Sinn Féin and SDLP incumbents held their seats, although Sinn Féin's Michelle Gildernew retained her seat in Fermanagh & South Tyrone by only four votes over the Independent Unionist Unity candidate, Rodney Connor, after three recounts.[135]

MPs who lost their seats

Party Name Constituency Office held whilst in power Year elected Defeated by Party
Labour Party The Right Honourable
Jacqui Smith
Redditch Home Secretary (2007–09) 1997 Karen Lumley Conservative Party
The Right Honourable
Charles Clarke
Norwich South Home Secretary (2004–06) 1997 Simon Wright Liberal Democrats
The Right Honourable
Tony McNulty
Harrow East Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform 1997 Bob Blackman Conservative Party
The Right Honourable
Mike O'Brien QC
North Warwickshire Minister of State for Health Services 1992 Major
Dan Byles
Conservative Party
The Right Honourable
Jim Knight
South Dorset Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform 2001 Richard Drax Conservative Party
Vera Baird QC Redcar Solicitor General for England and Wales 2001 Ian Swales Liberal Democrats
Angela Smith Basildon, contesting South Basildon and East Thurrock Minister of State for Third Sector 1997 Stephen Metcalfe Conservative Party
Bill Rammell Harlow Minister of State for the Armed Forces 1997 Robert Halfon Conservative Party
Gillian Merron Lincoln Minister of State for Public Health 1997 Karl McCartney Conservative Party
Phil Hope Corby Minister of State for Health 1997 Louise Mensch Conservative Party
Dawn Butler Brent South, contesting Brent Central Minister for Young Citizens and Youth Engagement 2005 Sarah Teather MP Liberal Democrats
Sarah McCarthy-Fry Portsmouth North Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury 2005 Penny Mordaunt Conservative Party
The Right Honourable
Joan Ryan
Enfield North Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Nationality, Citizenship and Immigration 1997 Nick de Bois Conservative Party
Bob Blizzard Waveney Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury 1997 Peter Aldous Conservative Party
Janet Anderson Rossendale and Darwen Vice-Chamberlain of the Household 1992 Jake Berry Conservative Party
Shahid Malik Dewsbury Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government 2005 Simon Reevell Conservative Party
David Kidney Stafford Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Energy and Climate Change 1997 Jeremy Lefroy Conservative Party
Michael (Jabez) Foster Hastings and Rye Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office; Minister for Equalities 1997 Amber Rudd Conservative Party
Michael Foster Worcester Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development 1997 The Honourable
Robin Walker
Conservative Party
Dan Norris Wansdyke, contesting North East Somerset Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 1997 The Honourable
Jacob Rees-Mogg
Conservative Party
Chris Mole Ipswich Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport 2001 The Honourable
Ben Gummer
Conservative Party
Paul Clark Gillingham, contesting Gillingham and Rainham Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport 1997 Rehman Chishti Conservative Party
Jonathan Shaw Chatham and Aylesford Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions; Minister for Disabled People 1997 Tracey Crouch Conservative Party
Ann Keen Brentford and Isleworth Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health Services 1997 Mary Macleod Conservative Party
Claire Ward Watford Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice 1997 Richard Harrington Conservative Party
Sally Keeble Northampton North Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for International Development 1997 Michael Ellis Conservative Party
Parmjit Dhanda Gloucester Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Communities and Local Government 2001 Richard Graham Conservative Party
Celia Barlow Hove Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform 2005 Mike Weatherley Conservative Party
Nick Ainger Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office 1992 Simon Hart Conservative Party
Charlotte Atkins Staffordshire Moorlands Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport 1997 Karen Bradley Conservative Party
James Plaskitt Warwick and Leamington Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions 1997 Chris White Conservative Party
Phyllis Starkey Milton Keynes South West, contesting Milton Keynes South Chair of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee 1997 Iain Stewart Conservative Party
Andrew Dismore Hendon Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights 1997 Matthew Offord Conservative Party
Lynda Waltho Stourbridge Assistant Regional Minister for the West Midlands 2005 Margot James Conservative Party
Ian Cawsey Brigg and Goole Assistant Whip 1997 Andrew Percy Conservative Party
Anne Snelgrove Swindon South Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Prime Minister 2005 Robert Buckland Conservative Party
Rob Marris Wolverhampton South West PPS to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 2001 Paul Uppal Conservative Party
Christine Russell City of Chester PPS to the Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families 1997 Stephen Mosley Conservative Party
Andy Reed Loughborough PPS to Treasury Ministers 1997 Nicky Morgan Conservative Party
Dari Taylor Stockton South PPS to the Minister of State for Health and Chairman of the North East Regional Select Committee 1997 James Wharton Conservative Party
Shona McIsaac Cleethorpes PPS to the Minister of State for Health 1997 Martin Vickers Conservative Party
Linda Gilroy Plymouth Sutton, contesting Plymouth Sutton and Devonport PPS to the Minister of State for Housing and Local Government 1997 Oliver Colvile Conservative Party
Martin Linton Battersea PPS to the Department for Constitutional Affairs 1997 Jane Ellison Conservative Party
Nick Palmer Broxtowe PPS to the Department for Constitutional Affairs 1997 Anna Soubry Conservative Party
Terry Rooney Bradford North, contesting Bradford East PPS to the Minister of State for Housing and Planning 1990 David Ward Liberal Democrats
David Borrow South Ribble PPS to the Department for Education and Skills 1997 Lorraine Fullbrook Conservative Party
Patrick Hall Bedford PPS to the Foreign Office 1997 Richard Fuller Conservative Party
David Drew Stroud 1997 Neil Carmichael Conservative Party
Dr Roger Berry Kingswood 1992 Chris Skidmore Conservative Party
Tony Wright Great Yarmouth 1997 Brandon Lewis Conservative Party
Geraldine Smith Morecambe and Lunesdale 1997 David Morris Conservative Party
Frank Cook Stockton North
Stood as an Independent candidate after being deselected
1983 Alex Cunningham Labour Party
Gordon Prentice Pendle 1992 Andrew Stephenson Conservative Party
Gwyn Prosser Dover 1997 Charlie Elphicke Conservative Party
Julie Morgan Cardiff North 1997 Jonathan Evans Conservative Party
Brian Jenkins Tamworth 1996 Christopher Pincher Conservative Party
Liberal Democrats Lembit Öpik Montgomeryshire Housing Spokesman 1997 Glyn Davies Conservative Party
Dr Evan Harris Oxford West and Abingdon Science Spokesman 1997 Nicola Blackwood Conservative Party
Julia Goldsworthy Falmouth and Camborne, contesting Camborne and Redruth Communities and Local Government Spokesman 2005 George Eustice Conservative Party
Richard Younger-Ross Teignbridge, contesting Newton Abbot Heritage Spokesman 2001 Anne-Marie Morris Conservative Party
Sandra Gidley Romsey, contesting Romsey and Southampton North Health Spokesman 2000 Caroline Nokes Conservative Party
Paul Holmes Chesterfield Justice Spokesman and Chairman of the Liberal Democrats 2001 Toby Perkins Labour Party
Paul Rowen Rochdale Work and Pensions Spokesman 2005 Simon Danczuk Labour Party
Susan Kramer Richmond Park Transport Spokesman 2005 Zac Goldsmith Conservative Party
Willie Rennie Dunfermline and West Fife Chair of the Lib Dem Campaigns Team 2006 Thomas Docherty Labour Party
Conservative The Right Honourable
David Heathcoat-Amory
Wells 1983 Tessa Munt Liberal Democrats
Nigel Waterson Eastbourne 1992 Stephen Lloyd Liberal Democrats
Democratic Unionist Party The Right Honourable
Peter Robinson
Belfast East Leader of the DUP and First Minister of Northern Ireland 1979 Naomi Long Alliance Party of Northern Ireland
Respect George Galloway Bethnal Green & Bow, contesting Poplar and Limehouse 2005 Jim Fitzpatrick Labour Party
Scottish National Party John Mason Glasgow East 2008 Margaret Curran Labour Party
Independent Dr Richard Taylor Wyre Forest 2001 Mark Garnier Conservative Party
Dr Bob Spink Castle Point 2001 Rebecca Harris Conservative Party
Andrew Pelling Croydon Central 2005 Gavin Barwell Conservative Party
Blaenau Gwent People's Voice Group Dai Davies Blaenau Gwent 2006 Nick Smith Labour Party

MPs first elected in 2010

Effect of the expenses scandal

Many of the MPs who were most prominently caught up in the scandal decided, or were ordered, not to stand for re-election in 2010. Among them were Margaret Moran,[136] Elliot Morley,[137] David Chaytor,[138] Nicholas and Ann Winterton,[139] Derek Conway,[140] John Gummer,[141] Douglas Hogg,[142] Anthony Steen,[143] Peter Viggers,[144] Julie Kirkbride and her husband Andrew MacKay.[145]

Where sitting MPs did stand for re-election after their expenses claims were criticised, there were some notable losses. Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith lost her marginal Redditch seat, which showed a large 9.2% swing to the Conservatives. Smith had claimed expenses on a large family home in Redditch by declaring her house-share with her sister in London as her main home, which had been described as "near fraudulent" by the former chairman of the committee on Standards in Public life,[146] although she had only been ordered to apologise rather than repay the money.[147] Former Home Office minister Tony McNulty lost Harrow East to the Conservatives on an 8% swing, after repaying over £13,000 claimed on a second home, occupied by his parents, which was 8 miles away from his primary residence.[148] Ann Keen lost Brentford and Isleworth on a 6% swing, but her husband Alan Keen retained Feltham and Heston. The couple were criticised for claiming for a second home in central London while rarely staying in their nearby constituency home.[149]

Shahid Malik lost his Dewsbury seat on a 5.9% swing to the Conservatives. Malik had been required to repay some of his expense claims and, at the time of the election, was under investigation for other claims.[150] David Heathcoat-Amory was one of only two sitting Conservatives to be defeated when he lost Wells to the Liberal Democrats by 800 votes. Heathcoat-Amory was criticised for claiming manure on expenses.[151] Phil Hope, who repaid over £40,000 in expenses,[152] was defeated in his Corby constituency although the swing was lower than the national average at 3.3%.

Hazel Blears, who had paid more than £13,000 to cover capital gains tax which she had avoided by "flipping" the designation of her main residence,[153] suffered a large drop in her vote in Salford and Eccles, but was still comfortably re-elected; a 'Hazel must go' candidate won only 1.8%.[154] Conversely, Brian Jenkins lost his Tamworth seat on a large 9.5% swing despite being described as a "saint" by The Daily Telegraph on account of his low expenses.[155]

Predictions[156] of a rise in the number of successful Independents in the election as a result of the 2009 expenses scandal failed to materialise. Independents supported by the Jury Team or the Independent Network, support networks who both attempted to select and promote high quality Independents who had signed up for the so-called Nolan Principles of public life, set out in the Committee on Standards in Public Life, failed to have any significant impact. Broadcaster Esther Rantzen gathered a great deal of publicity for her campaign in Luton South constituency where the former MP Margaret Moran had stood down, but ended up losing her deposit in 4th place with 4.4% of the vote; the winner was Moran's successor as Labour candidate.

There was also a high-profile campaign over expenses directed against Speaker John Bercow, who had 'flipped' his designation of second home. An imperfectly observed convention states that the major parties do not oppose the Speaker seeking re-election; Bercow faced two main opponents in Buckingham. Independent former Member of the European Parliament John Stevens, standing on the Buckinghamshire Campaign for Democracy ticket, campaigned with a man dressed in a dolphin costume whom he called 'Flipper'[157] and polled second with 21.4%. Former leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage also fought the seat but came third in the vote with 17.4%. Bercow won with 47.3%.

Voting problems

Problems occurred with voting at 27 polling places in 16 constituencies, and affected approximately 1,200 people.[158] This situation was condemned by politicians of various parties. Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission, the independent body that oversees the electoral process, was forced on to television to defend preparations and procedures. The Electoral Commission announced it would be carrying out a "thorough investigation".[159] Under the law in force at the 2010 election, voters had to have been handed their ballots by the 10 pm deadline; people who were waiting in queues to vote at 10 pm were not allowed to vote.[160]

In Chester there were reports that 600 registered voters were unable to vote because the electoral roll had not been updated,[161] while in Hackney, Islington, Leeds, Lewisham, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield long queues led to many voters being turned away and unable to vote as the 10 pm deadline arrived.[159] Some dissatisfied voters staged sit-ins to protest against what some of them had called "disenfranchisement".[159] In Liverpool, higher-than-expected turnout meant several polling stations ran out of ballot papers, with defeated council leader Warren Bradley stating that some residents were unable to cast their votes.[162] In Wyre and Preston North, a 14-year-old boy cast a vote after being sent a polling card.[163]

In parts of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg's Sheffield Hallam seat it was reported that students from the city's two universities were placed in separate queues from 'local' residents, who were given priority, resulting in many students being unable to cast their votes.[164]

Just days after the election Clegg spoke at a Take Back Parliament rally saying the results showed the British system is broken and needs fixing, while vowing the voices of the protesters would be heard. The rally demanded Clegg affirm his promise to push for "democratic and proportional representation of the British public".[165]

Because of closure of United Kingdom airspace as a result of the Iceland volcanic eruption, potential expat voters in New Zealand were denied a vote when postal voting papers arrived too late to be returned to the UK,[166] although Australian broadcaster SBS suggested that given the extremely tight timetabling of overseas votes, there is very little chance that voting papers [for voters outside Europe] will be received, let alone returned, in time to be counted.[167]

Post-election events

When it became clear that no party would achieve an overall majority the three main party leaders made public statements offering to discuss the options for forming the next government with the other parties.

On 11 May 2010, as coalition talks between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats seemed to be drawing to a successful conclusion,[3] Gordon Brown announced that he was resigning as Prime Minister and also as Labour leader. He then left Downing Street, accompanied by his wife and children, driving to Buckingham Palace where he tendered his resignation to the Queen and advised her to call for David Cameron.[168][169] Cameron became Prime Minister one hour after the Queen accepted Brown's resignation.[170] In his first address outside 10 Downing Street, he announced his intention to form a coalition government, the first since the Second World War, with the Liberal Democrats. As one of his first moves, Cameron appointed Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister.[170]

Just after midnight on 12 May 2010, the Liberal Democrats emerged from a meeting of their Parliamentary party and Federal Executive to announce that the coalition deal had been "approved overwhelmingly",[4][5] meaning that David Cameron would lead a coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Later that day, the two parties jointly published the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition agreement specifying the terms of the coalition deal.[171][172][173]

A film of the election was made by candidate and filmmaker John Walsh entitled ToryBoy The Movie, exploring the candidate's selection process and the work that goes into an election campaign. One of the film's subjects, the British Labour Party MP Sir Stuart Bell, was later described as "Britain's laziest MP".[174] The film received cinema releases in 2011 and again ahead of the 2015 general election.[175]

Party political and administration costs

UK parties spent £31.1m on the campaign of which Conservatives spent 53%, the Labour Party spent 25% and the Liberal Democrats 15%.[176] Figures from returning officers show that the average administration cost per constituency was £173,846 meaning the average cost per vote was £3.81.[177]

See also