United Kingdom general election, 1964: Wikis

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1959 · members United Kingdom members · 1966
United Kingdom general election, 1964
All 630 seats to the House of Commons
15 October 1964
First party Second party Third party
Dodwilson.JPG
Leader Harold Wilson Alec Douglas-Home Jo Grimond
Party Labour Conservative Liberal
Leader since 14 February 1963 18 October 1963 5 November 1956
Leader's seat Huyton Kinross & Western Perthshire Orkney and Shetland
Last election 258 seats, 43.8% 365 seats, 49.4% 6 seats, 5.9%
Seats won 317 304 9
Seat change +59 -61 +3
Popular vote 12,205,808 12,002,642 3,099,283
Percentage 44.1% 43.4% 11.2%
Swing  %  %  %

Subsequent PM
Harold Wilson
Labour

1955 election MPs
1959 election MPs
1964 election MPs
1966 election MPs
1970 election MPs

The United Kingdom general election of 1964 was held on 15 October 1964, more than five years after its predecessor, and thirteen years after the Conservative Party had first taken power. Both major parties had changed leaders in 1963: after the sudden death of Hugh Gaitskell, Labour chose Harold Wilson (who was then thought of as being on the party's centre left), and the Conservatives had unexpectedly chosen Alec Douglas-Home (then the Earl of Home) as their new leader after Harold Macmillan announced his resignation (Home shortly after disclaimed his title under the Peerage Act 1963 in order to lead the party from the Commons). Macmillan's government had been increasingly unpopular in the mid-term, and Douglas-Home faced a difficult task in rebuilding the party's popularity. Wilson had begun to try to tie the Labour Party to the growing confidence of Britain in the 1960s, arguing that the technological revolution would sweep away restrictive practices on both sides of industry.

Contents

Campaign

The pre-election campaign was prolonged as Douglas-Home delayed calling a general election in order to try to give himself the maximum time to improve the prospects of his party. The starting gun of the campaign was fired on 15 September 1964 when Douglas-Home saw the Queen and asked for a dissolution of Parliament. The campaign was dominated by some of the more voluble characters on the political scene: George Brown, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, toured the country making energetic speeches and the occasional gaffe, and Quintin Hogg for the Conservatives responded in kind. The image of Hogg lashing out at a Harold Wilson poster with his walking stick was one of the most striking of the campaign. Many party speakers, especially at televised rallies, had to deal with hecklers: Sir Alec Douglas-Home in particular was treated very roughly in a meeting at Birmingham.

National opinion poll summary

NOP: Lab swing 3.5% (Lab majority of 12)
Gallup: Lab swing 4% (Lab majority of 23)
Research Services: Lab swing 2.75% (Con majority of 30)
Daily Express: Lab swing of 1.75% (Con majority of 60)

Results

The election resulted in a very slim majority for the Labour Party, of four seats, and led to their first government since 1951. Labour achieved a swing of just over 3% although its own vote rose by only 0.2%. The Liberal Party won nearly twice as many votes as in 1959, but did so partly by nominating 150 more candidates. Harold Wilson became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, replacing Sir Alec Douglas-Home. The majority was not sustainable for a full Parliament and Wilson called another general election in 1966. In particular, the small majority of Wilson's government resulted in its being unable to implement the party's policy of nationalising the steel industry, due to the opposition of two of its back benchers: Woodrow Wyatt and Desmond Donnelly.

The election also saw the only time in the UK's recent history where all seats were divided between only the three main parties; that is, no minor parties, independents or splinter groups were able to obtain a seat.

UK general election 1964
Candidates Votes
Party Standing Elected Gained Unseated Net  % of total  % No. Net %
  Labour 628 317 65 6 + 59 50.317 44.1 12,205,808
  Conservative 630 304 5 66 - 61 48.253 43.4 12,002,642
  Liberal 365 9 5 2 + 3 1.428 11.2 3,099,283
  Independent Republican 12 0 0 0 0 0.4 101,628
  Plaid Cymru 23 0 0 0 0 0.2 69,507
  SNP 15 0 0 0 0 0.2 64,044
  Communist 36 0 0 0 0 0.2 46,442
  Independent 20 0 0 0 0 0.1 18,677
  Independent Liberal 4 0 0 0 0 0.1 16,064
  Republican Labour 1 0 0 0 0 0.1 14,678
  Independent Conservative 5 0 0 0 0 0.0 6,459
  British National 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 3,410
  Ind. Nuclear Disarmament 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,534
  Fellowship 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,112
  Patriotic Party 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,108
  League of Empire Loyalists 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,046
  Independent Communist 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 899
  True Conservative 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 709
  Agriculturalist 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 534
  National Democratic 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 349
  Socialist (GB) 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 322
  World Government 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 318
  British and Commonwealth 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 310
  Christian Socialist 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 265

Total votes cast on 15 October 1964: 27,657,148. All parties are shown. Conservative total includes Ulster Unionists and National Liberals.

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Votes summary

Popular vote
Conservative and Allies
  
43.4%
Labour
  
44.13%
Liberal
  
11.21%
Independent
  
0.53%
Others
  
0.73%

Headline Swing: 3.10% to Labour

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Conservative and Allies
  
48.25%
Labour
  
50.32%
Liberal
  
1.43%

Seats Changing Hands

From Conservative to Labour (63 seats): Battersea South, Bolton East, Bradford North, Brighton Kemptown, Buckingham, Bury and Radcliffe, Carlisle, Darlington, Doncaster, Dover, Dulwich, Ealing North, Epping, Glasgow Kelvingrove, Glasgow Pollok, Glasgow Woodside, Gravesend, Halifax, Heywood and Royton, Hitchin, King's Lynn, Kingston upon Hull North, Liverpool Kirkdale, Liverpool Toxteth, Liverpool Walton, Liverpool West Derby, Luton, Manchester Blackley, Manchester Wythenshawe, Middlesbrough West, Norwich South, Nottingham Central, Preston South, Putney, Renfrewshire West, Rutherglen, Stockport North, Stockport South, Sunderland South, Wandsworth Central, Watford, Woolwich West, Acton, Barons Court, Birmingham All Saints, Birmingham Sparkbrook, Birmingham Yardley, Clapham, Cleveland, Coventry South, Derbyshire South East, Holborn and St Pancras South, Keighley, Meriden, Newcastle upon Tyne East, Nottingham West, Rochester and Chatham, Rowley Regis and Tipton, Swansea West, The Hartlepools, Wellingborough, Willesden East and Willesden West
From Conservative to Liberal (4 seats): Bodmin, Inverness, Orpington and Ross and Cromarty
From Labour to Conservative (4 seats): Birmingham Perry Barr, Eton and Slough, Norfolk South West and Smethwick
From Liberal to Labour (2 seats): Bolton West and Huddersfield West
From Independent to Liberal (1 seat): Caithness and Sutherland

Televised declarations

These declarations were covered live by the BBC where the returning officer was heard to say "duly elected".

Constituency Winning party 1959 Constituency result 1964 by party Winning party 1964
Con Lab Lib Others
Cheltenham Conservative 19,797 14,557 7,568 Conservative hold
Salford West Labour 16,446 20,490 Labour hold
Billericay Conservative 35,347 33,755 10,706 Conservative hold
Exeter Conservative 18,035 16,673 8,815 Conservative hold
Battersea South Conservative 10,615 12,263 3,294 Labour gain
Liverpool Exchange Labour 7,239 16,985 Labour hold
Holborn and St Pancras South Conservative 13,117 15,823 226 Labour gain
North Devon Liberal 13,985 4,306 19,031 Liberal hold
Stockport South Conservative 13,718 16,755 7,107 Labour gain
Barons Court Conservative 14,800 15,966 2,821 Labour gain
Bolton West Liberal 13,522 16,519 10,086 Labour gain
Smethwick Labour 16,690 14,916 262 Conservative gain
Huyton Labour 22,940 42,213 899 Labour hold
Orpington Conservative 19,565 4,609 22,637 Liberal win
Torrington Conservative 16,889 5,867 14,831 Conservative hold
  • Orpington was won by the Liberals in a by-election in 1962 and held in the general election. When this happens, it is described as a "win" as opposed to a "gain" or "hold".

See also

References

Manifestos


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