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
Leader Harold Wilson Edward Heath
Party Labour Conservative
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
Leader Jeremy Thorpe William Wolfe
Party Liberal SNP
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%

Colours show the winning party—as shown in § Results

Composition of the House of Commons after the election

Prime Minister before election

Edward Heath

Prime Minister after election

Harold Wilson

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