United Kingdom general election, 1959: Wikis

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1955 · members United Kingdom members · 1964
United Kingdom general election, 1959
All 630 seats to the House of Commons
8 October 1959
First party Second party Third party
Macmillan cph.3b40592.jpg
Leader Harold Macmillan Hugh Gaitskell Jo Grimond
Party Conservative Labour Liberal
Leader since 10 January 1957 14 December 1955 5 November 1956
Leader's seat Bromley Leeds (S) Orkney and Shetland
Last election 345 seats, 49.7% 277 seats, 46.4% 6 seats, 2.7%
Seats won 365 258 6
Seat change +20 -19 0
Popular vote 13,750,875 12,216,172 1,640,760
Percentage 49.4% 43.8% 5.9%
Swing  %  %  %
1951 election MPs
1955 election MPs
1959 election MPs
1964 election MPs

This United Kingdom general election was held on 8 October 1959. It marked a third successive victory for the ruling Conservative Party, led by Harold Macmillan. The Conservatives increased their overall majority again, to 100 seats over the Labour Party under Hugh Gaitskell.

Contents

Background

Following the Suez Crisis in 1956, Anthony Eden the Conservative Prime Minister became unpopular and resigned the following year. At this stage, the Labour Party, with its new leader Hugh Gaitskell enjoyed large opinion poll leads over the Conservatives, and it looked as if they could win. However Anthony Eden's successor Harold Macmillan revived the Conservatives' fortunes as the economy improved, and his personal approval ratings remained high. By September 1958 the Conservatives had moved ahead of Labour in the opinion polls.

Campaign

The Conservatives fought under the slogan "Life is better with the Conservatives, don't let Labour ruin it" and were aided by a pre-election economic boom. The Labour Party fought a generally effective campaign, with television broadcasts masterminded by Tony Benn. Hugh Gaitskell made a mistake by declaring that a Labour government would not raise taxes if it came to power. This was despite the fact that the Labour manifesto contained pledges to increase spending, especially with regard to raising pensions. This led voters to doubt Labour's spending plans, and is usually cited as a key reason for their defeat.[1]

Results

Early on election night it became clear that the Conservative government had been returned with an increased majority. However there were swings to Labour in parts of North West England, and in Scotland. The BBC's election coverage, presented by Richard Dimbleby was shown on BBC Parliament on 9 October 2009 to mark the 50th anniversary of the election.

UK General Election 1959
Candidates Votes
Party Standing Elected Gained Unseated Net  % of total  % No. Net %
  Conservative 625 365 28 8 + 20 57.94 49.4 13,750,875
  Labour 621 258 9 28 - 19 40.95 43.8 12,216,172
  Liberal 216 6 1 1 0 0.95 5.9 1,640,760
  Plaid Cymru 20 0 0 0 0 0.3 77,571
  Sinn Féin 12 0 0 2 - 2 0.2 63,415
  Communist 18 0 0 0 0 0.1 30,896
  SNP 5 0 0 0 0 0.1 21,738
  Ind. Labour Group 1 0 0 0 0 0.1 20,062
  Independent Conservative 2 1 1 0 + 1 0.16 0.1 14,118
  Independent 5 0 0 0 0 0.0 7,492
  Fife Socialist League 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 4,886
  Independent Liberal 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 4,473
  Union Movement 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 2,821
  Lancastrian 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,889
  National Labour 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,685
  Fellowship 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,189
  Ind. Labour Party 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 923
  Socialist (GB) 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 899
  Alert Party 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 788

Total votes cast: 27,862,652. All parties shown. Conservatives include the National Liberal Party, Scottish Unionist Party and Ulster Unionists.

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Votes summary

Popular vote
Conservative and Unionist
  
49.35%
Labour
  
43.84%
Liberal
  
5.89%
Independent
  
0.23%
Others
  
0.97%

Headline Swing: 1.32% to Conservative

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Conservative and Unionist
  
57.94%
Labour
  
40.95%
Liberal
  
0.95%
Independent
  
0.16%

Seats Changing Hands

From Conservative to Labour (6 seats): Ayrshire Central, Glasgow Craigton, Glasgow Scotstoun, Lanark, Oldham East and Rochdale
From Conservative to Liberal (1 seat): Devon North
From Conservative to Independent (1 seat): Caithness and Sutherland
From Labour to Conservative (28 seats): Acton, Barons Court, Birmingham All Saints, Birmingham Sparkbrook, Birmingham Yardley, Brierley Hill, Bristol North East, Bristol North West, Clapham, Cleveland, Coventry South, Derbyshire South East, Holborn and St Pancras South, Keighley, Lowestoft, Meriden, Newcastle upon Tyne East, Nottingham West, Reading, Rochester and Chatham, Rowley Regis and Tipton, Rugby, Swansea West, The Hartlepools, Uxbridge, Wellingborough, Willesden East and Willesden West
From Liberal to Labour (1 seats): Carmarthen

References

Bibliography

See also

Manifestos


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