2015 United Kingdom general election

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A general election to select Members of Parliament in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom (UK) took place on 7 May 2015, and the Conservative Party won an overall majority. This was the first election whose date was known well in advance, a result of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011. The coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats contested the election as competing parties. The latter announced, as they did for the previous election, that, if no party were to get an overall majority, they would give priority in negotiations to the largest party in the Commons.

Timetable ([1]):

  • 30 March: dissolution of Parliament
  • 9 April: nomination deadline; there were 3971 candidates ([2])
  • 7 May: polling day
  • 7/8 May: counting and announcement of results[1]
  • 18 May: new Parliament meets to (re)elect Speakers and swear in members
  • 27 May: Queen's Speech: votes on this over the following days should confirm the Government

There were 650 seats to be filled.

Highlights

Run-up to election day

This was the first time that an election campaign had been fought since the introduction of fixed-term five-year parliaments, along with a mandatory six-week campaign. This was at first dominated by two debates between the party leaders on national television, in which seven parties took part; Northern Irish parties, however, were excluded, despite occupying 18 seats in the Commons. The period also saw much speculation over any post-election deals between the parties, as none were expected to win a majority of seats. In particular, the role of the Scottish National Party was much-debated since the party was expected to make a major breakthrough in Scotland, taking many seats from Labour.

Polls

Throughout the campaign the polls gave fairly consistent predictions: Conservatives and Labour roughly equal, both well short of a majority, with the Scottish National Party in third place. Over the course of the campaign there was a very slight overall drift towards the Conservatives. A substantial last-minute swing to the Conservatives was indicated by an exit poll announced shortly after the polls closed, predicting them to be just short of an overall majority.

Results

The turnout was 66.1%. As results came in overnight they gradually indicated a small overall majority for the Conservative party. The big winners, though, were the SNP: the three main nationwide parties were left with just one seat each in Scotland, with the SNP winning 50 seats more than in the previous election. The big losers were the Liberal Democrats, who lost most of their seats. It was the Conservatives' share of those seats that gave them their majority. The modest number of changes between the two largest parties went in both directions and almost cancelled out.

The election gave, at least by one measure, a larger difference between proportions of votes and seats than any previous one, with 24.2% of seats going to the "wrong" party ([3], page 38).

Aftermath

The Liberal Democrat ministers resigned to be replaced by Conservatives. The leaders of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties resigned. Both parties experienced substantial increases in membership, with the former growing more in absolute numbers but the latter relative to existing totals.

An inquiry commissioned by polling organizations to determine why they got it wrong concluded that the main cause was failure to take adequately into account that younger voters were more likely than older ones to be found by internet polls, to answer telephone polls, and to vote Labour.

Full party listing

  • 330 Conservative ([4]) (36.9% of the vote[5])
  • 232 Labour (30.4% of the vote)
  • 56 Scottish National Party (4.7% of the overall vote)
  • 8 Liberal Democrat (7.9% of the vote)
  • 8 Democratic Unionist (0.6% of the vote)
  • 4 Sinn Féin (0.6% of the vote)
  • 3 Plaid Cymru (0.6% of the vote)
  • 3 Social Democratic and Labour Party (0.3% of the vote)
  • 2 Ulster Unionist (0.4% of the vote)
  • 1 Green (3.8% of the vote)
  • 1 United Kingdom Independence Party (12.6% of the vote)
  • 1 independent[2]
  • the Speaker

Note, in calculating majorities for most purposes, that the Speaker, his 3 deputies (2 Labour and 1 Conservative) and Sinn Féin do not vote. Thus in practice the Conservatives have 329 votes out of 642, a majority of 16. This may not apply to the Salisbury Convention, which has never been formally defined.

Full results

Results

According to the BBC, the overall national results of the 2015 UK general election after all 650 seats were declared are as follows:[3]

Party[4]SeatsChange[5]Number of votes% of votes[6]% change[7]
Conservative[8]330+2311,334,57636.9+0.8
Labour232-269,347,30430.4+1.5
SNP56+501,454,4364.7+3.1
DUP8-184,2600.6-
Liberal Democrat8-492,415,8627.9-15.2
Sinn Féin4-1176,2320.6-
Plaid Cymru3+1181,7040.6-
SDLP3-99,8090.3-
UUP2+2114,9350.4-
Green[9]1-1,157,6133.8+2.8
UKIP1+13,881,09912.6+9.5
Independent1-17,689[10]49.2-14.1
Alliance0-161,5560.2+0.1
Respect0-19,9890.0-0.1
TUSC0036,3680.1+0.1
Speaker1-34,61764.5[11]+17.2[12]

England

The Conservatives won a firm majority of the 533 seats in England.[13] Results exclude one seat won by the Speaker.

PartySeatsChange
Conservative319+21
Labour206+15
Liberal Democrat6-37
Green1-
UKIP1+1

Scotland

Scotland saw most of its 59 seats dramatically go to the Scottish National Party,[14] following its loss in the independence referendum of September 2014 and up from only six seats in 2010. Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives held just one seat each, and Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy was ousted as an MP.

PartySeatsChange
SNP56+50
Labour1-40
Liberal Democrat1-10
Conservative1-

Wales

Labour retained a majority of 40 Westminster seats within Wales.[15]

PartySeatsChange
Labour25-1
Conservative11+3
Plaid Cymru3-
Liberal Democrat1-2

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has its own political parties, some of which vote with those of England, Scotland and Wales in electoral pacts - for example, the SDLP works with Labour in the House of Commons. The Ulster Unionist Party was returned to the Commons, having previously lost all their seats in elections and through Lady Sylvia Hermon leaving the party. She was returned as an independent in 2015.[16]

PartySeatsChange
DUP8-
Sinn Féin4-1
SDLP3-
UUP2+2
Independent1-

Footnotes

  1. Under current law, if a party candidate, or the Speaker seeking reelection, dies, the election process for that seat is delayed. This does not apply to an independent candidate, unless they win.
  2. Lady Hermon, formerly an Ulster Unionist MP
  3. BBC News: 'Election 2010: national results'. 7th May 2010.
  4. Not all parties are shown. All the parties or independents who won or lost seats are listed, as is the TUSC, which failed to win any seats but did gain more votes than Respect, which was previously represented in the Commons.
  5. Number of seats gained or lost since the 2005 United Kingdom general election.
  6. Percentage across the UK except where stated otherwise.
  7. Percentage of votes gained or lost since the 2010 election.
  8. The BBC count the Speaker as a Conservative, even though the holder of the position has resigned from their party and stands in the election as 'Speaker seeking re-election'. The Speaker at the time of the 2015 election, John Bercow, was previously a Conservative MP.
  9. The Scottish Green Party is a separate party that works closely with the party of England and Wales; the Green Party in Northern Ireland is affiliated with the Green Party in Ireland.
  10. Total votes for the elected independent politician, Lady Sylvia Hermon, rather than the total vote for all independent candidates; see individual result via BBC.
  11. Percentage of votes for the Speaker, John Bercow, in the one constituency where he stood; see individual result via BBC.
  12. Change in percentage of the vote in the Speaker's own constituency, not the country as a whole.
  13. BBC News: 'Election 2015: Results - England'.
  14. BBC News: 'Election 2015: Results - Scotland'.
  15. BBC News: 'Election 2015: Results - Wales'.
  16. BBC News: 'Election 2015: Results - Northern Ireland'.