General Elections & Fixed Term Parliament Act, Put Simply

Written by our campaign agent Adam Stockwell

General Elections in the UK occur to elect Members of Parliament to the British Legislator the House of Commons. The leader of the biggest party becomes Prime Minister with other senior members becoming the Cabinet; together they form the Executive of the UK.

Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011

The Fixed Term Parliament Act was introduced by the coalition agreement between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. This Act of Parliament introduced fixed-term elections of five years to the House of Commons. The Act removes the PMs previous power to dissolve parliament whenever they see fit with a trip to the Monarch.

Historic General Elections

Throughout the history of the UK, there are many General Elections that are significant to history.

1906 General Election

Is significant as it was a Landslide victory for the opposition Liberal party under the leadership of Henry Campbell-Bannerman with a 125 seat majority. This election is also significant as it is the last time the Liberal party won a majority at an election.

1918 General Election

War leader Lloyd-George decided to go to the country after the war as the coalition government. The election led to the Conservatives being the largest party with enough seats to form a majority government with 379 seats, Lloyd-Georges coalition liberal party added 127 further seats; he remained PM despite the Conservatives having nearly 3 times as many seats. This would be the last time a Liberal leader would PM.

1923 General Election

Led to this first ever Labour government. In May 1923 Conservative leader and PM Bonar-Law resigned due to ill health, his successor Stanley Baldwin called an election in December in the hope to gain a personal mandate for tariff reform despite having a comfortable majority from the election the previous year. The result was a hung parliament and Labours Ramsey Macdonald formed a minority government. It is also significant as it is the last time the Liberal (or another 3rd party) received 100 or more seats in the Commons.

1945 General Election

Led to the first majority Labour government in history. After six years of war coalition, the country went to the polls for the first time in a decade, with Clement Attlee leading labour to a landslide victory with a 145 seat majority. Attlee would be PM until 1951 and labour leader until 1955 when he retired after 20 years.

Feb 1974 General Election

Is significant because it is the only time since the second world war that a governing party was voted out of office after serving a single term. The election was called by Conservative PM Edward Heath to gain a mandate for his union reforms which had caused so much turmoil due to their power. This plan failed and Harold Wilson’s labour re-entered office.

1979 General Election

The Conservatives swept to power with the first ever female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. This election led to 18 years of Conservative government with four consecutive general election victories.

1992 General Election

John Major’s Conservatives won a shock fourth consecutive term in office. The Conservatives also gained what remains the highest ever number of votes for any political party in British history with 14,093,007 votes.

1997 General Election

Is significant as it swept Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ to power after 18 years in the “wilderness of opposition”. This election would lead to 13 years of Labour rule in the UK. While Labour lost the 2010 election it did well enough to cause the first hung parliament since 1974.

2010 General Election

The election winners the Conservatives led by David Cameron formed the first peacetime coalition government since the 1931 election while the country was in the grips of the great depression. The Conservatives formed the government with the help of the Liberal Democrats led by Nick Clegg.

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