1997 United Kingdom general election

The 1997 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 1 May 1997, five years after the previous general election on 9 April 1992, to elect 659 members to the British House of Commons. Under the leadership of Tony Blair, the Labour Party ended its eighteen-year spell in opposition and won the general election with a landslide victory, winning 418 seats, the most seats the party has ever held to date, and the highest proportion of seats held by any party in the post-war era. For the first time since 1931, the outgoing government lost more than half its parliamentary seats in an election.

The election saw a 10.0% swing from Conservative to Labour on a national turnout of 71%, and would be the last national vote where turnout exceeded 70% until the 2016 EU referendum nineteen years later. As a result Blair became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a position he held until his resignation on 27 June 2007.

Under Blair's leadership, the Labour Party had adopted a more centrist policy platform under the name 'New Labour'. This was seen as moving away from the traditionally more left-wing stance of the Labour Party. Labour made several campaign pledges such as the creation of a National Minimum Wage, devolution referendums for Scotland and Wales and promised greater economic competence than the Conservatives, who were unpopular following the events of Black Wednesday in 1992; from then until 1997, the party consistently trailed behind Labour in the opinion polls.

The Labour Party campaign was ultimately a success; the party returned an unprecedented 418 MPs, and began the first of three consecutive terms for Labour in government. However, 1997 was the last general election in which Labour had a net gain of seats until the snap 2017 general election 20 years later. A record number of women were elected to parliament, 120, of whom 101 were Labour MPs. This was in part thanks to Labour's policy of using all-women shortlists.

The Conservative Party was led by incumbent Prime Minister John Major and ran their campaign emphasising falling unemployment and a strong economic recovery following the early 1990s recession. However, a series of scandals,[2] party division over the European Union, the events of Black Wednesday and a desire of the electorate for change after 18 years of Conservative rule all contributed to the Conservatives' worst defeat since 1906, with only 165 MPs elected to Westminster, as well as their lowest share of the vote since 1832.

The party was left with no seats whatsoever in Scotland or Wales, and many key Conservative politicians, including Defence Secretary Michael Portillo, Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, Trade Secretary Ian Lang, Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth and former ministers Edwina Currie, Norman Lamont, David Mellor and Neil Hamilton lost their parliamentary seats.

However, future Prime Minister Theresa May was elected to the safe Conservative seat of Maidenhead, and current Speaker John Bercow at Buckingham. Following the defeat, the Conservatives began their longest continuous spell in opposition in the history of the present day (post–Tamworth Manifesto) Conservative Party, and indeed the longest such spell for any incarnation of the Tories/Conservatives since the 1760s, lasting 13 years, including the whole of the 2000s. Throughout this period, their representation in the Commons remained consistently below 200 MPs.

The Liberal Democrats, under Paddy Ashdown, returned 46 MPs to parliament, the most for any third party since 1929 and more than double the number of seats it got in 1992, despite a drop in popular vote, in part due to tactical voting by anti-Conservative voters supporting it in lieu of Labour in areas where that party had little strength. The Scottish National Party (SNP) returned six MPs, double its total in 1992.

As with all general elections since the early 1950s, the results were broadcast live on the BBC; the presenters were David Dimbleby, Peter Snow and Jeremy Paxman.[3]

1997 United Kingdom general election

1 May 1997

All 659 seats to the House of Commons
330 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout71.3% (Decrease6.4%)
  Tony Blair WEF (cropped) John Major 1996 ASHDOWN Paddy
Leader Tony Blair John Major Paddy Ashdown
Party Labour Conservative Liberal Democrat
Leader since 21 July 1994 4 July 1995[n 1] 16 July 1988
Leader's seat Sedgefield Huntingdon Yeovil
Last election 271 seats, 34.4% 336 seats, 41.9% 20 seats, 17.8%
Seats before 273 343 18
Seats won 418 165 46
Seat change Increase147* Decrease171* Increase26*
Popular vote 13,518,167 9,600,943 5,242,947
Percentage 43.2% 30.7% 16.8%
Swing Increase8.8% Decrease11.2% Decrease1.0%

UK General Election, 1997
Colours denote the winning party, as shown in the main table of results.

* Indicates boundary change – so this is a nominal figure

Notional 1992 results on new boundaries.

^ Figure does not include the speaker

Prime Minister before election

John Major
Conservative

Appointed Prime Minister

Tony Blair
Labour

Results of the UK General Election, 1997
Seats won in the election (outer ring) against number of votes (inner ring).

Overview

Labour's five year pledge
Labour's five year pledge

The British economy had been in recession at the time of the 1992 election, which the Conservatives had won, and although the recession had ended within a year, events such as Black Wednesday had tarnished the Conservative government's reputation for economic management. Labour had elected John Smith as its party leader in 1992, but his death from a heart attack in 1994 led the way for Tony Blair to become Labour leader.

Blair brought the party closer to the political centre and abolished the party's Clause IV in their constitution, which had committed them to mass nationalisation of industry. Labour also reversed its policy on unilateral nuclear disarmament and the events of Black Wednesday allowed Labour to promise greater economic management under the Chancellorship of Gordon Brown. A manifesto, entitled New Labour, New Life For Britain was released in 1996 and outlined five key pledges:

  • Class sizes to be cut to 30 or under for 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds by using money from the assisted places scheme.
  • Fast track punishment for persistent young offenders, by halving the time from arrest to sentencing.
  • Cut NHS waiting lists by treating an extra 100,000 patients as a first step by releasing £100 million saved from NHS red tape.
  • Get 250,000 under-25-year-olds off benefit and into work by using money from a windfall levy on the privatised utilities.
  • No rise in income tax rates, cut VAT on heating to 5%, and keeping inflation and interest rates as low as possible.

Disputes within the Conservative government over European Union issues, and a variety of "sleaze" allegations had severely affected the government's popularity. Despite the strong economic recovery and substantial fall in unemployment in the four years leading up to the election, the rise in Conservative support was only marginal with all of the major opinion polls having shown Labour in a comfortable lead since late 1992.[4]

Loss of parliamentary majority

Following the 1992 general election, the Conservatives held government with 336 of the 651 House of Commons seats. Through a series of defections and by-election defeats, the Conservative government gradually lost its absolute majority in the House of Commons. By 1997, the Conservatives held only 324 House of Commons seats (and had not won a by-election since 1989).

Timing

The previous Parliament first sat on 29 April 1992. The Parliament Act 1911 required at the time for each Parliament to be dissolved before the fifth anniversary of its first sitting; therefore, the latest date the dissolution and the summoning of the next parliament could have been held on was 28 April 1997.

The 1985 amendment of the Representation of the People Act 1983 required that the election must take place on the eleventh working day after the deadline for nomination papers, which in turn must be no more than six working days after the next parliament was summoned.

Therefore, the latest date the election could have been held on was 22 May 1997 (which happened to be a Thursday). British elections (and referendums) have been held on Thursdays by convention since the 1930s, but can be held on other working days.

Campaign

Prime Minister John Major called the election on Monday 17 March 1997, ensuring the formal campaign would be unusually long, at six weeks (Parliament was dissolved on 8 April[5]). The election was scheduled for 1 May, to coincide with the local elections on the same day. This set a precedent, as the three subsequent general elections were also held alongside the May local elections.

The Conservatives argued that a long campaign would expose Labour and allow the Conservative message to be heard. However, Major was accused of arranging an early dissolution to protect Neil Hamilton from a pending parliamentary report into his conduct: a report that Major had earlier guaranteed would be published before the election.

In March 1997, soon after the election was called, Asda introduced a range of election-themed beers, these being 'Major's Mild', 'Tony's Tipple' and 'Ashdown's Ale'.[6]

Conservative campaign

The Conservative Party began low in the polls, and had experienced great difficulties over the previous five years, with polling often putting it some 40 points adrift of Labour. Major hoped that a long campaign would expose Labour's "hollowness" and the Conservative campaign emphasised stability, as did its manifesto title 'You can only be sure with the Conservatives'.[7] However, the campaign was beset by deep set problems, such as the rise of James Goldsmith's Referendum Party, advocating a referendum on continued membership of the European Union. The party threatened to take away many right-leaning voters from the Conservatives. Furthermore, about 200 candidates broke with official Conservative policy to oppose British membership of the single European currency.[8] Major fought back, saying: "Whether you agree with me or disagree with me; like me or loathe me, don't bind my hands when I am negotiating on behalf of the British nation." The moment is remembered as one of the defining, and most surreal, moments of the election.[9][7]

Meanwhile, there was also division amongst the Conservative cabinet, with Chancellor Kenneth Clarke describing the views of Home Secretary Michael Howard on Europe as "paranoid and xenophobic nonsense". The Conservatives also struggled to come up with a definitive theme to attack Labour, with some strategists arguing for an approach which castigated Labour for "stealing Tory clothes" (copying their positions), with others making the case for a more confrontational approach, stating that "New Labour" was just a façade for "old Labour".

The New Labour, New Danger poster, which depicted Tony Blair with demon eyes, was an example of the latter strategy. Major veered between the two approaches, which left Conservative Central Office staff frustrated. As Andrew Cooper explained: "We repeatedly tried and failed to get him to understand that you couldn't say that they were dangerous and copying you at the same time."[10] In any case, the campaign failed to gain much traction, and the Conservatives went down to a landslide defeat at the polls.

Labour campaign

Labour ran a slick campaign, which emphasised the splits within the Conservative government, and argued that the country needed a more centrist administration. Labour ran a centrist campaign that was good at picking up dissatisfied Tory voters, particularly moderate and suburban ones. Tony Blair, highly popular, was very much the centrepiece of the campaign, and proved a highly effective campaigner.

The Labour campaign was reminiscent of those of Bill Clinton for the US Presidency, focusing on centrist themes, as well as adopting policies more commonly associated with the right, such as cracking down on crime and fiscal responsibility. The influence of political "spin" came into great effect for Labour at this point, as media centric figures such as Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson provided a clear cut campaign, and establishing a relatively new political brand "New Labour" with enviable success.

Liberal Democrat campaign

The Liberal Democrats had suffered a disappointing performance in 1992, but they were very much strengthened in 1997 due to potential tactical voting between Labour and Lib Dem supporters in Tory marginal constituencies, particularly in the south - particularly given their share of the vote decreased while their number of seats nearly doubled. The Lib Dems promised to increase education funding paid for by a 1p increase in income tax.

Notional 1992 results

The election was fought under new boundaries, with a net increase of eight seats compared to the 1992 election (651 to 659). Changes listed here are from the notional 1992 result, had it been fought on the boundaries established in 1997. These notional results were calculated by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher and were used by all media organisations at the time.

UK General Election 1992
Party Seats Gains Losses Net gain/loss Seats % Votes % Votes +/−
  Labour 273 17 15 +2 41.6 34.4 11,560,484
  Conservative 343 28 21 +7 52.1 41.9 14,093,007
  Liberal Democrat 18 0 2 −2 2.7 17.8 5,999,384
  Other parties 25 1 0 +1 3.6 5.9
1997 UK Election Notional Result
The notional results of the 1992 election, as shown on a map of the 1997 constituencies.

Results

Labour won a landslide victory with its largest parliamentary majority (179) to date. On the BBC's election night programme Professor Anthony King described the result of the exit poll, which accurately predicted a Labour landslide, as being akin to "an asteroid hitting the planet and destroying practically all life on Earth". After years of trying, Labour had convinced the electorate that they would usher in a new age of prosperity—their policies, organisation and tone of optimism slotting perfectly into place.

Labour's victory was largely credited to the charisma of Tony Blair and a Labour public relations machine managed by Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson. Between the 1992 election and the 1997 election there had also been major steps to modernise the party, including scrapping Clause IV that had committed the party to extending public ownership of industry. Labour had suddenly seized the middle ground of the political spectrum, attracting voters much further to the right than their traditional working class or left wing support. In the early hours of 2 May 1997 a party was held at the Royal Festival Hall, in which Blair stated that "a new dawn has broken, has it not?".

The election was a crushing defeat for the Conservative Party, with the party having its lowest percentage share of the popular vote since 1832 under the Duke of Wellington's leadership, being wiped out in Scotland and Wales. A number of prominent Conservative MPs lost their seats in the election, including Michael Portillo, Malcolm Rifkind, Edwina Currie, David Mellor, Neil Hamilton and Norman Lamont. Such was the extent of Conservative losses at the election that Cecil Parkinson, speaking on the BBC's election night programme, joked upon the Conservatives winning their second seat that he was pleased that the subsequent election for the leadership would be contested.

The Liberal Democrats more than doubled their number of seats thanks to the use of tactical voting against the Conservatives. Although their share of the vote fell slightly, their total of 46 MPs was the highest for any UK Liberal party since David Lloyd George led the party to 59 seats in 1929.

The Referendum Party, which sought a referendum on the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union, came fourth in terms of votes with 800,000 votes mainly from former Conservative voters, but won no seats in parliament. The six parties with the next highest votes stood only in either Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales; in order, they were the Scottish National Party, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Féin, and the Democratic Unionist Party.

In the previously safe seat of Tatton, where incumbent Conservative MP Neil Hamilton was facing charges of having taken cash for questions, the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties decided not to field candidates in order that an independent candidate, Martin Bell, would have a better chance of winning the seat, which he did with a comfortable margin.

The result declared for the constituency of Winchester showed a margin of victory of just two votes for the Liberal Democrats. The defeated Conservative candidate mounted a successful legal challenge to the result on the grounds that errors by election officials (failures to stamp certain votes) had changed the result; the court ruled the result invalid and ordered a by-election on 20 November which was won by the Liberal Democrats with a much larger majority, causing much recrimination in the Conservative Party about the decision to challenge the original result in the first place.

This election marked the start of Labour government for the next 13 years, until the formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition in 2010.

418 165 46 30
Labour Conservative Lib Dem O
UK General Election 1997[11]
Candidates Votes
Party Leader Stood Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % No. Net %
  Labour Tony Blair 639 418 146 0 +146 63.4 43.2 13,518,167 +8.8
  Conservative John Major 648 165 0 178 –178 25.0 30.7 9,600,943 –11.2
  Liberal Democrat Paddy Ashdown 639 46 30 2 +28 7.0 16.8 5,242,947 –1.0
  Referendum James Goldsmith 547 0 0 0 0 2.6 811,849 N/A
  SNP Alex Salmond 72 6 3 0 +3 0.9 2.0 621,550 +0.1
  UUP David Trimble 16 10 1 0 +1 1.5 0.8 258,349 0.0
  SDLP John Hume 18 3 0 1 –1 0.5 0.6 190,814 +0.1
  Plaid Cymru Dafydd Wigley 40 4 0 0 0 0.6 0.5 161,030 0.0
  Sinn Féin Gerry Adams 17 2 2 0 +2 0.3 0.4 126,921 0.0
  DUP Ian Paisley 9 2 0 1 –1 0.3 0.3 107,348 0.0
  UKIP Alan Sked 193 0 0 0 0 0.3 105,722 N/A
  Independent N/A 25 1 1 0 +1 0.2 0.1 64,482 0.0
  Green Peg Alexander and David Taylor 89 0 0 0 0 0.3 61,731 –0.2
  Alliance John Alderdice 17 0 0 0 0 0.2 62,972 0.0
  Socialist Labour Arthur Scargill 64 0 0 0 0 0.2 52,109 N/A
  Liberal Michael Meadowcroft 53 0 0 0 0 0.1 45,166 –0.1
  BNP John Tyndall 57 0 0 0 0 0.1 35,832 0.0
  Natural Law Geoffrey Clements 197 0 0 0 0 0.1 30,604 –0.1
  Speaker Betty Boothroyd 1 1 1 0 0 0.1 23,969
  ProLife Alliance Bruno Quintavalle 56 0 0 0 0 0.1 19,332 N/A
  UK Unionist Robert McCartney 1 1 1 0 +1 0.2 0.0 12,817 N/A
  PUP Hugh Smyth 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 10,928 N/A
  National Democrats Ian Anderson 21 0 0 0 0 0.0 10,829 N/A
  Socialist Alternative Peter Taaffe 0 0 0 0 0.0 9,906 N/A
  Scottish Socialist Tommy Sheridan 16 0 0 0 0 0.0 9,740 N/A
  Independent Labour N/A 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 9,233 – 0.1
  Ind. Conservative N/A 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 8,608 –0.1
  Monster Raving Loony Screaming Lord Sutch 24 0 0 0 0 0.0 7,906 –0.1
  Rainbow Dream Ticket Rainbow George Weiss 29 0 0 0 0 0.0 3,745 N/A
  NI Women's Coalition Monica McWilliams and Pearl Sagar 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 3,024 N/A
  Workers' Party Tom French 8 0 0 0 0 0.0 2,766 –0.1
  National Front John McAuley 6 0 0 0 0 0.0 2,716 N/A
  Legalise Cannabis Howard Marks 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 2,085 N/A
  People's Labour Jim Hamezian 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,995 N/A
  Mebyon Kernow Loveday Jenkin 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,906 N/A
  Scottish Green Robin Harper 5 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,721
  Conservative Anti-Euro Christopher Story 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,434 N/A
  Socialist (GB) None 5 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,359 N/A
  Community Representative Ralph Knight 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,290 N/A
  Residents 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,263 N/A
  SDP John Bates 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,246 –0.1
  Workers Revolutionary Sheila Torrance 9 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,178 N/A
  Real Labour N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 1,117 N/A
  Independent Democratic N/A 0 0 0 0 0.0 982
  Ind. Liberal Democrat N/A 0 0 0 0 0.0 890
  Communist Mike Hicks 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 639
  Independent Green N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 593
  Green (NI) 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 539
  Socialist Equality Davy Hyland 3 0 0 0 0 0.0 505

All parties with more than 500 votes shown. Labour total includes New Labour and "Labour Time for Change" candidates; Conservative total includes candidates in Northern Ireland (excluded in some lists) and "Loyal Conservative" candidate.

The Popular Unionist MP elected in 1992 died in 1995, and the party folded shortly afterwards.

There was no incumbent Speaker in the 1992 election.

Government's new majority 179
Total votes cast 31,286,284
Turnout 71.3%
Popular vote
Labour
43.2%
Conservative
30.7%
Liberal Democrat
16.8%
Referendum
2.6%
Scottish National
2.0%
Others
1.9%
Parliamentary seats
Labour
63.4%
Conservative
25.0%
Liberal Democrat
7.0%
Scottish National
0.9%
Ulster Unionist
1.5%
Others
2.1%
1997 UK General Election Gallagher Index
The disproportionality of the house of parliament in the 1997 election was 16.71 according to the Gallagher Index, mainly between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Results by constituent country

LAB CON LD SNP PC NI parties Others Total
England 328 165 34 - - - 2 529
Wales 34 - 2 - 4 - - 40
Scotland 56 - 10 6 - - - 72
Northern Ireland - - - - - 18 - 18
Total 418 165 46 6 4 18 2 (inc Speaker) 659

Defeated MPs

Conservative ministers who lost their seats

Boundary changes at this election abolished several ministers' seats. The seats instead contested by those affected by the changes were largely close to their old seats. Michael Bates, for example, had previously represented Langbaurgh in the North East, the wards from which were mostly placed in Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (which Bates contested and lost), while some wards were placed in neighbouring Redcar.

Other Conservative MPs who lost their seats

Liberal Democrats who lost their seats

Social and Democratic Labour Party MP who lost his seat

Democratic Unionist MP who lost his seat

Referendum Party MP who lost his seat

Post election events

The poor results for the Conservative Party led to infighting, with the One Nation, Tory Reform Group, and right wing Maastricht Rebels blaming each other for the defeat. Party chairman Brian Mawhinney said on the night of the election, that it was due to disillusionment with 18 years of Conservative rule. John Major resigned as party leader, saying "When the curtain falls, it is time to leave the stage".

Despite receiving fewer votes than in 1992, the Liberal Democrats more than doubled their number of seats and won their best general election result up to that point and a better such result than any achieved by its predecessor, the Liberal Party, since 1929 under David Lloyd George's leadership. Paddy Ashdown's continued leadership had been vindicated, despite a disappointing 1992 election, and they were in a position to build positively as a strong third party into the new millennium.

Internet coverage

With the huge rise in internet use since the previous general election, BBC News created a special website covering the election as an experiment for the efficiency of an online news service which was due for a launch later in the year.[12]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Conservative party leader John Major resigned as Leader of the Conservative Party on 22 June 1995 to face critics in his party and government, and was reelected as Leader on 4 July 1995. Prior to his resignation he had held the post of Leader of the Conservative Party since 28 November 1990.[1]

References

  1. ^ "1995: Major wins Conservative leadership". 4 July 1995 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
  2. ^ "BBC News - UK Politics - The Major Scandal Sheet". news.bbc.co.uk.
  3. ^ "BBC Vote '97 Election coverage". YouTube. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  4. ^ "1997: Labour landslide ends Tory rule". BBC News. 15 April 2005. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  5. ^ "House of Lords Debates 17 March 1997 vol 579 cc653-4: Dissolution of Parliament". House of Lords Hansard. Retrieved 21 June 2010.
  6. ^ "Advertising & Promotion: Ads contract election fever". www.campaignlive.co.uk. 20 March 1997. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  7. ^ a b Snowdon 2010, p. 4.
  8. ^ Travis, Alan (17 April 1997). "Rebels' seven-year march". The Guardian (London).
  9. ^ Bevins, Anthony (17 April 1997). "Election '97 : John Major takes on the Tories". The Independent. Retrieved 19 December 2015.
  10. ^ Snowdon 2010, p. 35.
  11. ^ Morgan, Bryn (February 1999). "General Election Results, 1 May 1997" (PDF). Factsheet No. 68. House of Commons Information Office. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Major events influenced BBC's news online | Social media agency London | FreshNetworks blog". Freshnetworks.com. 5 June 2008. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 9 December 2010.

Further reading

  • Butler, David and Dennis Kavanagh. The British General Election of 1997 (1997), the standard scholarly study
  • Snowdon, Peter (2010) [2010]. Back from the Brink: The Extraordinary Fall and Rise of the Conservative Party. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-730884-2.

Manifestos

External links

1997 United Kingdom general election in Edinburgh

These are the results of the United Kingdom general election, 1997 in the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The 1997 General Election was held on 1 May 1997 and five constituencies returned Labour Party MPs, with one returning a Liberal Democrat MP.

For the overall results in Scotland see 1997 United Kingdom general election results in Scotland.

1997 United Kingdom general election in England

The 1997 United Kingdom general election in England was held on 1 May 1997 for 529 English seats to the House of Commons. Under Tony Blair, the Labour Party won a landslide majority of English seats, the first time since 1966 that Labour had won an overall majority of English seats. The England result, together with even larger landslide Labour results in Scotland and Wales, gave Labour the biggest majority for any single party since 1931. Blair subsequently formed the first Labour government since 1979, beginning 13 years of Labour government.

1997 United Kingdom general election in Northern Ireland

The 1997 United Kingdom general election in Northern Ireland was held on 1 May with 18 MPs elected in single-seat constituencies using first-past-the-post as part of the wider general election in the United Kingdom. This was an increase of one seat in Northern Ireland, where the House of Commons as a whole had increased from 650 to 659 seats

1997 United Kingdom general election in Scotland

These are the results of the 1997 United Kingdom general election in Scotland. The election was held on 1 May 1997 and all 72 seats in Scotland were contested.

1997 United Kingdom general election in Wales

These are the results of the 1997 United Kingdom general election in Wales. The election was held on 1 May 1997 and all 40 seats in Wales were contested. The Labour Party won a landslide majority of Welsh MPs, gaining seven seats for a total of 34 out of 40. The Conservatives lost all of their Welsh MPs, leaving them without representation in Wales for the first time since universal suffrage was introduced. The Liberal Democrats gained 1 seat, whilst Plaid Cymru retained their 4 MPs.

1997 general election

1997 general election may refer to:

Canadian federal election, 1997

Irish general election, 1997

Singaporean general election, 1997

United Kingdom general election, 1997

Blair Babe

Blair Babes or Blair's Babes is a term sometimes used to refer to the 101 female Members of Parliament from the Labour Party elected to the British House of Commons in Labour's landslide general election victory in 1997, after images of the new Prime Minister Tony Blair with 96 of them on the steps of Church House in Westminster were widely publicised. According to The Times, Margaret Moran, MP for Luton South, described the "perception that the 1997 intake of female Labour MPs are all robotic clones" as "complete tosh". Moran said that she herself was not a Blair Babe, but a "Blair Witch". The columnist Polly Toynbee condemned the term as a "casual, misogynist tag."The 1997 general election saw more women elected to the House of Commons than ever – 120, exactly double the 60 elected at the 1992 general election. Aside from the 101 Labour MPs, there were also 13 Conservatives, three Liberal Democrats, and three from other parties (including Speaker Betty Boothroyd, previously a Labour politician). However, many of the new female MPs grew disillusioned, and nine either chose not to stand or lost their seats in the 2001 general election. Despite two female MPs winning by-elections between 1997 and 2001, and other women being elected, the total number of female MPs fell to 118 at the 2001 general election. A further 22 stood down or lost their seats at the 2005 general election, although the number of female MPs increased again to a new record of 127.

The sociological implications of the term and the experiences of Labour's women MPs were extensively analyzed by Sarah Childs in her 2004 book New Labour's Women MPs: Women Representing Women.

Enfield Southgate in the 1997 general election

The constituency of Enfield Southgate returned a memorable result in the United Kingdom 1997 general election, when the seat was unexpectedly lost by the incumbent, the Conservative's Michael Portillo, to Labour's Stephen Twigg.

The result came as a shock to many politicians and commentators, and came to symbolise the extent of the Labour landslide victory under the leadership of Tony Blair.

Gerald Howarth

Sir James Gerald Douglas Howarth (born 12 September 1947), known as Gerald Howarth, is a British Conservative Party politician. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Aldershot from 1997 until 2017, having been the MP for Cannock and Burntwood from 1983 to 1992.

He was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence as Minister for International Security Strategy from May 2010 to September 2012 and is chairman of Conservative Way Forward. In 2016, he joined the political advisory board of Leave Means Leave. He stood down at the 2017 general election.

James Goldsmith

Sir James Michael Goldsmith (26 February 1933 – 18 July 1997) was an Anglo-French financier, tycoon and politician who was a member of the prominent Goldsmith family.

In 1994 he was elected to represent a French constituency as a Member of the European Parliament. He founded the short-lived Eurosceptic Referendum Party in the United Kingdom, and was one of the key power-brokers in British political circles that initiated party political opposition to the country's membership of the European Union.

Goldsmith was allegedly the inspiration for the fictional character of the corporate raider "Sir Larry Wildman" in the 1987 American film Wall Street.Margaret Thatcher said of him: "Jimmy Goldsmith was one of the most powerful and dynamic personalities that this generation has seen. He was enormously generous, and fiercely loyal to the causes he espoused".

Jeremy Irons

Jeremy John Irons (born 19 September 1948) is an English actor. After receiving classical training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Irons began his acting career on stage in 1969 and has since appeared in many West End theatre productions, including The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, Godspell, Richard II, and Embers. In 1984, he made his Broadway debut in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing and received a Tony Award for Best Actor.

Irons's first major film role came in the 1981 romantic drama The French Lieutenant's Woman, for which he received a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor. After starring in dramas, such as Moonlighting (1982), Betrayal (1983), and The Mission (1986), he was praised for portraying twin gynaecologists in David Cronenberg's psychological thriller Dead Ringers (1988). In 1990, Irons portrayed accused attempted murderer Claus von Bülow in Reversal of Fortune, and won multiple awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Other notable films have included Steven Soderbergh's mystery thriller Kafka (1991), the period drama The House of the Spirits (1993), the romantic drama M. Butterfly (1993), the voice of Scar in Disney's The Lion King (1994), Simon Gruber in the action film Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), the drama Lolita (1997), Musketeer Aramis in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), the action adventure Dungeons & Dragons (2000), the drama The Merchant of Venice (2004), the drama Being Julia (2004), the epic historical drama Kingdom of Heaven (2005), the fantasy-adventure Eragon (2006), the Western Appaloosa (2008), and the indie drama Margin Call (2011). In 2016, he appeared in Assassin's Creed and, starting that year, has portrayed Alfred Pennyworth in the DC Extended Universe, beginning with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and reprising the role in Justice League (2017).

Irons has also made several notable appearances on TV. He earned his first Golden Globe Award nomination for his break-out role in the ITV series Brideshead Revisited (1981). In 2005, Irons appeared in the historical miniseries Elizabeth I, for which he received a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor. From 2011 to 2013, he starred as Pope Alexander VI in the Showtime historical series The Borgias. He is one of the few actors who have achieved the "Triple Crown of Acting", winning an Academy Award for film, an Emmy Award for television and a Tony Award for theatre. In October 2011, he was nominated the Goodwill Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

List of MPs elected in the 1997 United Kingdom general election

This is a list of Members of Parliament (MPs) elected to the House of Commons of the 52nd Parliament of the United Kingdom at the 1997 general election, held on 1 May 1997.

The list is arranged by constituency. New MPs elected since the general election are noted at the bottom of the page.

Notable newcomers to the House of Commons included Alan Johnson, Derek Twigg, Hazel Blears, Charles Clarke, Yvette Cooper, Ruth Kelly, Jacqui Smith, Damian Green, Theresa May, Vince Cable, Martin Bell, John Bercow, Oona King, Tom Brake, Ed Davey, Owen Paterson, Maria Eagle, Ben Bradshaw, Lindsay Hoyle, Philip Hammond, Dominic Grieve, Caroline Spelman, Kelvin Hopkins, John Hayes, Chris Ruane, Oliver Letwin, Eleanor Laing, Andrew Lansley, Shaun Woodward, Michael Moore, Tim Loughton, Jim Murphy, Lembit Opik, David Drew, John Cryer, Barry Gardiner, Sir Desmond Swayne, and John McDonnell. Martin McGuinness was also elected; however, he did not take his seat.

During the 1997–2001 Parliament, Betty Boothroyd and Michael Martin served as Speaker, Tony Blair served as Prime Minister, and John Major and William Hague served as Leader of the Opposition. Dissolution of the 52nd Parliament was on 14 May 2001.

List of elections in 1997

The following elections occurred in the year 1997.

Honduran general election, 1997

Indonesian legislative election, 1997

Iranian presidential election, 1997

Mexican legislative election, 1997

Papua New Guinean general election, 1997

Philippine barangay election, 1997

Salvadoran legislative election, 1997

Singaporean general election, 1997

South Korean presidential election, 1997

Yemeni parliamentary election, 1997

Opinion polling for the 1997 United Kingdom general election

The United Kingdom general election, 1997 saw the Labour Party win a landslide victory and end 18 years of Conservative government, with Tony Blair becoming prime minister. He had become leader of the party in Jul 1994, two months after the sudden death of his predecessor John Smith, and rebranded it "New Labour", in a move which was well received by voters and which saw the abandonment of many traditional socialist policies of the Labour Party, including the mass nationalisation of industry which had been pioneered by Clement Attlee half a century earlier and remained on the Labour manifesto until the mid 1990s, whereas the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher had privatised most of the state-owned industries and utilities during the 1980s, and the process had continued on a lesser scale under her successor John Major since Nov 1990.

The previous general election in 1992 had seen the Conservative win for the fourth successive election, although its majority was cut to 21 seats compared to the 102-seat majority it had won in 1987. However, the Black Wednesday debacle on 16 Sep 1992 had seriously damaged the Conservative government's reputation for economic excellence, and the Labour Party quickly became ascendant in the opinion polls. Subsequent local elections and parliamentary by-elections saw Labour and the Liberal Democrats both make gains at the expense of the Conservatives, and opinion polls pointed towards a wide Labour victory long before a general election was even on the political horizon.

Britain had been in recession in the run-up to the 1992 general election, with unemployment exceeding 2.5 million in April 1992 and reaching nearly 3 million by the end of that year. Black Wednesday was in fact followed by an economic upturn which saw an unprecedented run of economic growth that would remain unbroken for 16 years, with unemployment falling accordingly, but this did little to boost the Conservative showing in local elections, by-elections and opinion polls – even more so in the aftermath of Tony Blair's election as Labour leader. In Dec 1996, with an election no more than five months away, the Conservative majority finally disappeared. A series of scandals involving Conservative MPs, along with the long-running division within the party over Europe, had done the government no favours either.

On 17 March 1997, John Major called a general election for 1 May, and the opinion polls continued to point towards a large victory for Labour. Even The Sun newspaper, which had constantly supported the Tories for some 20 years and even claimed to have won the last election for the party with its fierce campaigning, declared its support for Tony Blair and "New Labour", condemning the Tories as "tired, divided and rudderless", and urged its readers to "give change a chance" and vote for a new government, although it still opposed some of New Labour's policies.

In contrast to Labour's huge victory, the Conservatives were left with their lowest number of MPs since the 1906 general election, and without any representation in Scotland or Wales. John Major resigned as party leader, and was succeeded shortly afterwards by William Hague.

The Liberal Democrats, still led by their long-serving leader Paddy Ashdown, did well, further cementing their place as the third largest party in Westminster, returning 41 MPs compared to 18 in 1992, although they actually took a smaller share of the vote compared to the previous election.

Perth (Scottish Parliament constituency)

Perth was a constituency of the Scottish Parliament (Holyrood). It elects one Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) by the plurality (first past the post) method of election. Also, however, it is one of nine constituencies in the Mid Scotland and Fife electoral region, which elects seven additional members, in addition to nine constituency MSPs, to produce a form of proportional representation for the region as a whole.

For the Scottish Parliament election, 2011, the constituency of Perth, will be abolished and replaced by Perthshire North and Perthshire South and Kinross-shire.

Portillo moment

The Portillo moment was the dramatic declaration of the result for the Enfield Southgate constituency in the 1997 UK general election, at around 3:10 am on 2 May 1997. The Labour candidate Stephen Twigg defeated the sitting MP, Conservative cabinet minister Michael Portillo. The result was perceived as a pivotal indication that the Conservatives would be voted out of office after 18 years, and that New Labour would win the election by a substantial majority.

The late-night declaration of the result became the subject of the question "Were you still up for Portillo?", asking whether a person had remained awake until after 3 am to see or hear the key general election results. "Portillo moment" has become a metaphor for an indication of a sudden and significant change in political fortunes - particularly when a leading MP (especially a Cabinet Minister) has been unseated at a general election.

ProLife Alliance election results

ProLife Alliance was formed in the UK in October 1996, originally as a political party. It put up 56 candidates at the 1997 general election and also contested the 2004 European elections.

Referendum Party election results

The Referendum Party was a Eurosceptic, single issue party in the United Kingdom formed by Sir James Goldsmith to fight the 1997 General Election. The party stood in 547 (out of 659) constituencies. In Northern Ireland, the party did not stand, but endorsed the Ulster Unionist Party. In the 165 seats also contested by UKIP, the Referendum Party beat UKIP in all but two, Romsey and Glasgow Anniesland (the latter by just two votes).A candidate using the same party name also contested a by election in 1999.

Tony's Cronies

"Tony's Cronies" is a term in British politics and media given to people who were viewed as being given positions of power because of their personal friendships with Prime Minister Tony Blair, during his premiership between 1997 and 2007. These included those granted life peerages and public positions based on their friendship with Blair rather than their individual merits. The phrase was created by the Conservative Party after the 1997 United Kingdom general election and was continually used in the media throughout Blair's premiership.

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