All 625 seats in the House of Commons
313 seats needed for a majority
Colours denote the winning party
The 1950 United Kingdom general election was the first general election ever to be held after a full term of Labour government. The election was held on Thursday 23 February 1950. Despite polling over 700,000 votes more than the Conservatives,[b] and receiving more votes than they had during the 1945 general election, Labour obtained a slim majority of just five seats--a stark contrast to 1945, when they had achieved a landslide, 146-seat majority. There was a national swing towards the Conservatives, who gained 90 seats. Labour called another general election in 1951.
It was also the first general election to be covered on television, although the footage was not recorded. Richard Dimbleby anchored for the BBC Television coverage of the election, which he would later do again for the 1951, 1955, 1959 and the 1964 general elections. On this occasion, Dimbleby was joined in the BBC Lime Grove Studios by R. B. McCallum, Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, and author of The British General Election of 1945 and David Butler, research student of Nuffield College. The first election night programme ran from 10:45 pm until just after 1:00 am.
Significant changes since the 1945 general election included the abolition of plural voting by the Representation of the People Act 1948, and a major reorganisation of constituencies by the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act 1949. Eleven new English seats were created and six were abolished, and there were over 170 major alterations to constituencies across the country.
The Conservatives, having recovered from their landslide election defeat in 1945, accepted most of the nationalisation that had taken place under the Attlee government, which included the NHS and the mixed economy.[clarification needed] The campaign essentially focused on the possible future nationalisation of other sectors and industries, which was supported by the Labour Party, and opposed by the Conservatives. The Liberals essentially viewed the struggle between the two parties on this issue as a class struggle.
The Liberal Party fielded 475 candidates, more than at any general election since 1929. Liberal Party leader Clement Davies felt that the party had been at a disadvantage at the 1945 general election when they ran fewer candidates than needed to form a government. Davies arranged for the cost of running extra candidates to be offset by the party taking out insurance with Lloyd's of London against more than fifty candidates losing their deposits.
In the event, the strategy only succeeded in causing a very marginal increase in the overall Liberal vote over the previous election (albeit it was still their best popular vote percentage since 1929); the number of votes-per-candidate declined sharply, resulting in them losing a further three seats from their already-disappointing 1945 showing. A total of 319 Liberal candidates lost their deposits, a record number[page needed] until 2015, when candidates for the Liberal Democrats lost 335 deposits at the general election held in that year.
Despite losing 78 seats, the Labour Party won an overall majority of 5 seats, down from 146 in the previous election, while their vote share slightly declined. The Conservatives saw a resurgence in their support, gaining an additional 90 seats and saw their vote share improve by more than 4%.
|Party||Leader||Stood||Elected||Gained||Unseated||Net||% of total||%||No.||Net %|
|Irish Labour||William Norton||2||0||0||0||0||0.2||52,715||N/A|
|Sinn Féin||Paddy McLogan||2||0||0||0||0||0.1||23,362||N/A|
|Plaid Cymru||Gwynfor Evans||7||0||0||0||0||0.1||17,580||+0.1|
|Ind. Labour Party||David Gibson||4||0||0||3||−3||0.0||4,112||−0.2|
|Independent Liberal and Conservative||N/A||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||1,551||N/A|
|Mudiad Gweriniaethol Cymru||N/A||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||613||N/A|
|Social Credit||John Hargrave||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||551||N/A|
|United Socialist||Guy Aldred||1||0||0||0||0||0.0||485|