The map above shows the results of the 1979 UK General Election. The number of seats won out of 635 by the major parties (and % vote share) were as follows:
Conservatives: 339. Leader and Prime Minister: Margaret Thatcher.
Labour: 269. Leader: James Callaghan.
Liberal: 11. Leader: David Steel.
Notable things about the 1979 election include:
- Margaret Thatcher was, of course, the first female Prime Minister.
- The election was triggered by a vote of no confidence, tabled by Thatcher, against Callaghan’s delicate coalition of Labour, Liberals and the nationalist parties. Callaghan “lost” a referendum in Scotland, which voted for greater devolution – so Thatcher saw the opportunity and took it.
- Labour was further hurt by the “Winter of Discontent” – a series of industrial strikes that dominated the news in 1978 and 79.
- This was the largest swing since 1945 – 5.2%, albeit this time from Labour to the Tories, rather than the other way around.
- Ultimately 1979 and the election of Margaret Thatcher will be remembered for the dramatic realignment of the British economy along what is now called “neoliberal” lines.
- The Liberals were hurt in this election by stories about the party’s former leader, Jeremy Thorpe, who was reported to have been involved in a gay affair… and then tried to have his lover murdered.
- October 1974 UK Election Map: Labour Wins A Tiny Majority
- 1983 UK Election Map: Labour’s Longest Suicide Note In History
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