The map above shows the results of the 1997 UK General Election. The number of seats won out of 651 by the major parties (and % vote share) were as follows:
Labour: 418. Leader and Prime Minister: Tony Blair.
Conservatives: 165. Leader: John Major.
Liberal Democrats: 46. Leader: Paddy Ashdown.
Notable things about the 1997 election include:
- This marked Labour’s first time in office since being booted out of office by Thatcher in 1979.
- Labour’s election strategy was based around rebranding the party “New Labour” and taking the party back towards the centre. One example of this was persuading the Labour Party to drop “Clause IV” of its constitution, which had called for the nationalisation of industry.
- Events that contributed to the historic disaster for the Conservatives include the Black Wednesday financial crisis and a series of sex scandals that mired the party in “sleaze”.
- Perhaps the biggest scalp of election night was that of Defence Secretary Michael Portillo. His loss became a common reference point in British elections, with high profile losses becoming known as a “Portillo moment”.
- A record number of women were elected to Parliament: 120, of which 101 were Labour MPs.
- In Tatton, the former journalist Martin Bell ran as an independent “anti-sleaze” candidate against then incumbent Tory MP Neil Hamilton, who had been caught up in the “cash for questions” scandal. Bell donned his now famous white suit, and Labour and the Liberal Democrats stood down for him – and he won!
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