February 1974 United Kingdom general election

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February 1974 United Kingdom general election

← 1970 28 February 1974 Oct 1974 →
← List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1970
List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, February 1974 →

All 635 seats in the House of Commons
318 seats needed for a majority
Turnout78.8%, Increase6.8%
  First party Second party
  Harold Wilson.jpg Sir Edward Heath.jpg
Leader Harold Wilson Edward Heath
Party Labour Conservative
Leader since 14 February 1963 28 July 1965
Leader's seat Huyton Sidcup
Last election 288 seats, 43.1% 330 seats, 46.4%
Seats before 287 325
Seats won 301 297
Seat change Increase14 Decrease28
Popular vote 11,645,616 11,872,180
Percentage 37.2% 37.9%
Swing Decrease5.9% Decrease8.5%

  Third party Fourth party
  William Wolfe (cropped).gif
Leader Jeremy Thorpe William Wolfe
Party Liberal SNP
Leader since 18 January 1967 1 June 1969
Leader's seat North Devon Stood in West Lothian (lost)
Last election 6 seats, 7.5% 1 seat, 1.1%
Seats before 11 2
Seats won 14 7
Seat change Increase3 Increase5
Popular vote 6,059,519 633,180
Percentage 19.3% 2.0%
Swing Increase11.8% Increase0.9%

UK General Election, February 1974.svg
Colours show the winning party—as shown in § Results

Composition of the House of Commons after the February 1974 election.svg
Composition of the House of Commons after the election

Prime Minister before election

Edward Heath
Conservative

Prime Minister after election

Harold Wilson
Labour

A general election was held on 28 February 1974 to elect all 635 members of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The election ended in a hung parliament as no party had a majority. Nobody agreed to start a coalition, so Labour had to start a minority government (as they had won the most seats), and Harold Wilson became Prime Minister.

It is very hard to run a government if the party has no majority, and so the House of Commons agreed to hold another general election in October. This was done so that a party could win a majority.

References[change | change source]

  • Butler, David; Kavanagh, Dennis (1974), The British General Election of February 1974, Macmillan, ISBN 0333172973
  • Sandbrook, Dominic (2010), State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970–1974, Allen Lane, ISBN 9781846140310
  • Taylor, Andrew (1984), The Politics of the Yorkshire Miners, London: Croom Helm, ISBN 0-7099-2447-X