UK general election, 1979
|October 1974 election|
The election was precipitated by a lost vote of confidence for the ruling Labour government under Jim Callaghan. The Labour government had been in power from February 1974, with Callaghan succeeding Harold Wilson in April 1976. The administration had been a minority government for most of its term, from March 1977 to August 1978 the government was forced into a Lib-Lab Pact in order to retain power. The government held out through the end of 1978 hoping to see improvements in the economy, what they got was the Winter of discontent. When the Scottish National Party withdrew support there was a vote of no confidence, which passed on March 28, 1979, forcing an election to be called.
Margaret Thatcher had come to head her party in 1975, replacing Edward Heath (to his eternal annoyance). The Conservatives campaigned on economic issues - promising to control inflation and check the unions, hoping to downplay the high personal unpopularity of their leader. They also called on the advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi to help with their campaign.
A Conservative victory had seemed almost certain, the overall swing of 5.2% was the largest since 1945 and gave the Conservatives a workable majority of 43 for the country's first woman Prime Minister.
|Party||Votes||Seats||Loss/Gain||Share of Vote (%)|
|Ulster Unionist||254,578||5||- 2||0.8|
|Plaid Cymru||132,544||2||- 1||0.4|
|Democratic Unionist||70,975||3||+ 2||0.2|
|Independent Ulster Unionist||36,989||1||0.1|
Total number of votes cast: 31,221,362. All parties gaining more than 1,100 votes shown.
''N.B. The Vanguard Progressive Unionist Party had folded in 1978. Of its 3 MPs, 2 joined the Ulster Unionist Party (one held his seat, the other lost to the Democratic Unionist Party) and the 3rd defended and held his seat for the United Ulster Unionist Party.
James Kilfedder had been previously elected as an Ulster Unionist MP, but left the party, defending and holding his seat as an Independent Ulster Unionist. He subsequently founded the Ulster Popular Unionist Party but did not use that label in this election.''