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UK general election, 1987

The general election of June 11, 1987 was the third victory in a row for Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives. She was the first leader since the 2nd Earl of Liverpool to have three successive terms in office.

The Conservative government had survived the industrial disputes with the mine workers (1984-85) and the print unions (1985-86), the 1986 Westland problems had been put aside with the loss of Michael Heseltine and Leon Brittan and the economy was performing well. Labour was in the throes of modernization and a return to more centralist policies under Neil Kinnock but expected to do better than in 1983. The SDP and the Liberalss renewed their Alliance and continued to split the non-Conservative vote; neither Alliance leader (David Owen and David Steel) could agree to support either one of the major parties in the event of a hung parliament.

The Conservatives advertising campaign by Tim Bell was dominated by anti-Labour sentiment, attacking mainly on taxation but also with rapid-response campaigns to pick up on Labour errors. The Labour campaign was a marked change from previous efforts, professionally directed by Peter Mandelson and Bryan Gould it concentrated on presenting and improving Kinnock's image to the electorate.

The Conservatives were returned with a 102 seat majority, 42 down on 1983 with a swing of 1% or so towards Labour. There were increasingly marked divisions across the country, the Conservatives dominated the South but performed poorly in the North, Scotland, and Wales.

Almost all the 'big names' held onto their seats. Of the more notable failures there were Enoch Powell and two Alliance members - Liberal Clement Freud and former SDP leader Roy Jenkins.

Turnout: 32,530,204 (75.3 %)

Party Votes Seats Loss/Gain Share of Vote (%)
Conservative 13,760,935 376 -21 42.2
Labour 10,029,270 229 + 20 30.8
Liberal-SDP Alliance 7,341,651 22 (17 and 5) +2 22.6
Others 1,131,863 23 + 2 3.5