United Kingdom general election, 1983: Wikis

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1979 · members United Kingdom members · 1987
United Kingdom general election, 1983
All 650 seats to the House of Commons
9 June 1983
First party Second party Third party
Margaret Thatcher cropped2.png Michaelfoot.jpg David Steel, October 2007.jpg
Leader Margaret Thatcher Michael Foot David Steel (Liberal, above)
Roy Jenkins (SDP)
Party Conservative Labour SDP-Liberal Alliance
Leader since 11 February 1975 4 November 1980 7 July 1976 (Steel)
2 July 1982 (Jenkins)
Leader's seat Finchley Blaenau Gwent Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Steel)
Glasgow Hillhead (Jenkins)
Last election 339 seats, 43.9% 269 seats, 36.9% 11 seats, 13.8% (as Liberal party only)
Seats won 397 209 23 (6 SDP, 17 Liberal)
Seat change +58 -60 +12
Popular vote 13,012,316 8,456,934 7,780,949
Percentage 42.4% 27.6% 25.4%
Swing  %  %  %

The 1983 UK general election was held on 9 June 1983. It gave the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher the most decisive election victory since that of Labour in 1945.

The opposition vote split almost evenly between the SDP/Liberal Alliance and Labour. With its worst performance since 1918, the Labour vote fell by over 3 million from 1979 and this accounted for both a national swing of almost 4% towards the Conservatives and their larger parliamentary majority of 144, even though the Conservatives' total vote did fall slightly.

Mrs Thatcher's first four years as prime minister of the United Kingdom had not been an easy time. Unemployment had rocketed in the first three years of her time in office as she battled to control inflation that had ravaged Britain for most of the 1970s. By the start of 1982, unemployment had passed the 3,000,000 mark - for the first time since before the Second World War - and the economy had been in recession for nearly two years. However, British victory in the Falklands War later that year sparked a dramatic rise in Tory popularity, and as Mrs Thatcher's new found popularity continued in 1983 the Tories were most people's firm favourites to win the election. [1]

The SDP-Liberal Alliance polled only 675,985 votes behind the Labour Party but received 186 fewer seats. The Liberals argued that a proportional electoral system would have given them a more representative number of MPs. Changing the electoral system had been a long-running Liberal Party campaign plank and would later be adopted by the Liberal Democrats.

Labour leader Michael Foot resigned soon after the election and was succeeded by Neil Kinnock. Although the election was one of the party's worst, the new crop of MPs included two future prime ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Contents

Results

October 1974 election MPs
1979 election MPs
1983 election MPs
1987 election MPs
1992 election MPs
Ring charts of the election results showing popular vote against seats won, coloured in party colours
Seats won in the election (outer ring) against number of votes (inner ring).

The Conservatives won with a majority of 144 seats

UK General Election 1983
Candidates Votes
Party Standing Elected Gained Unseated Net  % of total  % No. Net %
  Conservative 633 397 47 10 + 37 61.1 42.3 13,012,316 - 1.5
  Labour 633 209 4 55 - 51 32.2 27.6 8,456,934 - 9.3
  SDP-Liberal Alliance 633 23 14 0 + 14 3.5 25.4 7,780,949 + 11.6
  SNP 72 2 0 0 0 0.3 1.1 331,975 - 0.5
  Ulster Unionist 16 11 3 1 + 2 1.7 0.8 259,952 0.0
  Democratic Unionist 14 3 2 1 + 1 0.5 0.5 152,749 + 0.3
  SDLP 17 1 0 1 - 1 0.2 0.4 137,012 0.0
  Plaid Cymru 38 2 0 0 0 0.3 0.4 125,309 0.0
  Sinn Féin 14 1 1 0 + 1 0.2 0.3 102,701 N/A
  Alliance 12 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.2 61,275 - 0.1
  Ecology 109 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.2 54,299 + 0.1
  Independent 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 30,422 N/A
  National Front 60 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 27,065 - 0.5
  Ulster Popular Unionist 1 1 1 0 + 1 0.2 0.1 22,861 N/A
  Independent Labour 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 16,447 0.0
  Workers' Party 14 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 14,650 - 0.1
  BNP 54 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 14,621 N/A
  Independent Liberal 3[1] 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 13,743 0.0
  Communist 35 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 11,606 - 0.1
  Independent Socialist 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 10,326 N/A
  Independent Conservative 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 9,442 0.0
  Independent Communist 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 4,760 N/A
  Workers' Revolutionary 21 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 3,798 - 0.1
  Monster Raving Loony 11 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 3,015 N/A
  Wessex Regionalist 10 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 1,750 0.0
  Mebyon Kernow 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 1,151 N/A
  Independent DUP 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 1,134 N/A
  Licensees 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 934 N/A
  National Party 5 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 630 N/A
  Labour and Trade Union 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 584 N/A
  Revolutionary Communist 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 581 N/A
  Freedom Party 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 508 N/A

Total votes cast: 30,661,309. All parties with more than 500 votes shown.

N.B. The Alliance vote is compared with the Liberal Party vote in the 1979 election.

The Independent Unionist elected in the 1979 election defended and held his seat for the Ulster Popular Unionist Party. The United Ulster Unionist Party dissolved and its sole MP did not re-stand.

The Independent Republican elected in the 1979 election died in 1981. In the ensuring by-election the seat was won by Bobby Sands, an Anti-H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner who then died and was succeeded by an Anti-H-Block Proxy Political Prisoner. He defended and lost his seat standing for Sinn Féin who contested seats in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1959.

This election was fought under revised boundaries. The changes reflect those comparing to the notional results on the new boundaries. One significant change was the increase in the number of seats allocated to Northern Ireland from 12 to 17.

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Votes summary

Popular vote
Conservative
  
42.44%
Labour
  
27.58%
SDP/Liberal
  
25.38%
Scottish National
  
1.08%
Ulster Unionist
  
0.85%
Independent
  
0.28%
Others
  
2.39%

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats
Conservative
  
61.08%
Labour
  
32.15%
SDP/Liberal
  
3.54%
Ulster Unionist
  
1.69%
Others
  
1.54%

National election, 1979

Following boundary changes in 1983, the BBC and ITN (Independent Television News) co-produced a calculation of how the 1979 general election would have gone if fought on the new 1983 boundaries. The following table shows the effects of the boundary changes on the House of Commons:

UK General Election 1979
Party Seats Gains Losses Net Gain/Loss Seats % Votes % Votes +/-
  Conservative 359 +20 55 44.91 13,703,429
  Labour 261 -7 40 37.73 11,512,877
  Liberal 9 -2 1 14.17 4,324,936
  SNP 2 0 0 1.63 497,128
  Plaid Cymru 2 0 0 0.44 135,241
  Others 17 +5 3 3.40 1,063,263
Data from Guardian daily polls published in The Guardian between May and June 1983
Colour Key: BLUE Conservative, RED Labour, ORANGE Alliance, BLACK Others

Background to 1983 election

Michael Foot was elected leader of the Labour party in 1980, replacing James Callaghan. The election of Foot signalled that the core of the party was swinging to the left and the move exacerbated divisions within the party. In 1981 a group of senior figures including Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams left Labour to found the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The SDP agreed to a pact with the Liberals for the 1983 elections and stood as The Alliance.

The campaign displayed the huge divisions between the two major parties. Thatcher had been extremely unpopular during her first two years in office until the swift and decisive victory in the Falklands War, coupled with an improving economy, considerably raised her standings in the polls. The Conservatives' key issues included employment, economic growth, and defence. Labour's campaign manifesto involved leaving the European Economic Community, abolishing the House of Lords, abandoning the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent by cancelling Trident and removing cruise missiles — a policy programme dubbed by Labour MP Gerald Kaufman as "the longest suicide note in history". "Although, at barely 37 pages, it only seemed interminable", noted Roy Hattersley. Pro-Labour political journalist Michael White, writing in The Guardian, commented, "There was something magnificently brave about Michael Foot's campaign — but it was like the Battle of the Somme."[2]

The 1983 election campaign

Target tables

Conservative targets

  1. Isle of Wight
  2. Oxford East
  3. Cunninghame North
  4. Corby
  5. Nottingham East
  6. Hertfordshire West
  7. Mitcham and Morden
  8. Derbyshire South
  9. Leicestershire North West
  10. Southampton Itchen
  11. Halifax
  12. Stockton South
  13. Lewisham West
  14. Edmonton
  15. Stevenage
  16. York
  17. Darlington
  18. Ceredigion and Pembroke North
  19. Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber
  20. Bridgend

Labour targets

In order to regain an overall majority, Labour needed to make at least 65 gains.

  1. Birmingham Northfield
  2. Bury South
  3. Dulwich
  4. Liverpool Broadgreen
  5. Nottingham South
  6. Aberdeen South
  7. Stirling
  8. Hornchurch
  9. Luton South
  10. Calder Valley
  11. Pendle
  12. Bolton North East
  13. Cardiff Central
  14. Croydon North West
  15. Fulham
  16. Cambridge
  17. Birmingham Erdington
  18. Dudley West
  19. Welwyn Hatfield
  20. Glasgow Cathcart

Alliance targets

  1. Roxburgh and Berwickshire
  2. Richmond and Barnes
  3. Montgomeryshire
  4. Chelmsford
  5. Wiltshire North
  6. Cornwall North
  7. Hereford
  8. Colne Valley
  9. Gordon
  10. Southport
  11. Salisbury
  12. Devon North
  13. Gainsborough and Horncastle
  14. Cornwall South East
  15. Clwyd South West
  16. Liverpool Broadgreen
  17. Newbury
  18. Yeovil
  19. Pudsey
  20. Ross, Cromarty and Skye

References

  1. ^ In addition, rebel Liberal associations fielded candidates against official SDP/Alliance nominees in three constituencies: Liverpool Broadgreen, Hackney South and Shoreditch, and Hammersmith.
  2. ^ http://politics.guardian.co.uk/election/story/0,15803,1456497,00.html

See also

Manifestos


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