United Kingdom General Election Records

United Kingdom general election records is an annotated list of notable records from United Kingdom general elections.

Prior to 1945, electoral competition in the United Kingdom exhibited features which make meaningful comparisons with modern results difficult.

Among the most significant were:-

  • Frequent interventions and withdrawals of parties in different seats.
  • Frequent Coalitions between parties, splits within parties and floor-crossing by members.
  • Uncontested elections and truces between parties, in particular during both World Wars.
  • Generally more significant competition from independent candidates and minor parties.
  • Multi-member seats and University seats.
  • Higher frequency of general elections, although parliaments were extended during both World Wars.
  • Generally higher turnouts.
  • Generally higher variation in size of constituency electorates.

Since 1945, the evolution of a stable 3-party system has tended to negate each of the above features so that, broadly speaking, elections are more comparable.

In Northern Ireland, as ever, the pattern of party competition is completely different from that on the mainland and comparisons remain problematic.

Hence, unless otherwise stated records are based on results since the 1945 General Election, and earlier exceptional results are listed separately.

For comparison purposes the following definitions have been adopted.

  • Gain - victory by a party which was not victorious at the immediate previous election.
  • Loss - defeat of a party which was victorious at the immediate previous election.
  • Hold - victory by a party which was victorious at the immediate previous election.
  • Win - victory by a party. Ambiguous term that could mean either a gain or a hold.
  • Incumbent - the party which held the seat at the immediate previous election, irrespective of any intervening change of candidate or candidate's change of party.
  • Third Party - In England, since 1922, the "third party" has been the Liberal party through its Alliance with the SDP and their successors up to the present day Liberal Democrats. Additionally, in Scotland and Wales the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru are also considered to be Third Parties. Prior to 1922, the third party was the Labour party.
  • Minor Party - parties smaller than the Third Party
  • Uncontested - an election where only one candidate is put forward. No votes are actually cast and the candidate is by definition the victor.
  • Notional - boundary changes occur about every 10–15 years. Invariably the political composition of many seats is changed as a result, sometimes decisively. Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher have compiled notional results for the last few sets of boundary changes, predicting what the result would have been at the previous election under the new boundaries. While accurate overall, the results in a few seats indicate that they may have been mistaken.

Read more about United Kingdom General Election Records:  General Elections Having Historic Significance, See Also

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