1997 United Kingdom general election

election for members of the British House of Commons

The UK general election, 1997 was an election held on 1 May 1997 to elect 659 members to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The three main candidates to become Prime Minister are shown to the right:

1997 United Kingdom general election

← 1992 1 May 1997 2001 →
← List of MPs elected in the 1992 United Kingdom general election
List of MPs elected in the 1997 United Kingdom general election →

All 659 seats to the House of Commons
330 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout71.3% (Decrease6.4%)
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Tony Blair John Major Paddy Ashdown
Party Labour Conservative Liberal Democrats
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 Increase145* 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%

Colours show 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.

Composition of the House of Commons after the election

Prime Minister before election

John Major

Prime Minister after election

Tony Blair

The Labour Party and its leader Tony Blair gained the majority of seats and created the first Labour government since 1979. The Labour Party won 418 seats which was the highest majority of seats for any party since the Conservatives in the 1931 General Election. The Conservative Party suffered it's lowest number of seats since 1906 and lost all of its seats in Scotland and Wales. Several prominent Conservative politicians lost their seats such as Defence Secretary Michael Portillo, Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth as well as Edwina Currie, David Mellor and Ian Lang.

The Liberal Democrats won 46 seats, which was the highest number of seats for a third party since 1929. The Referendum Party ran on the single issue of taking Britain out of the European Union and won 2.6% of the vote but no seats.

The final results of the election were:

  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]


  1. "1995: Major wins Conservative leadership". BBC News. 4 July 1995.