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UK general election, 2001

The United Kingdom general election of 2001 has been called in the media "the quiet landslide." After a landslide victory of the Labour party in the previous 1997 elections, they now had another major victory by managing to maintain their position. In fact, Tony Blair was the first Labour prime minister to win a second consecutive term in office, and he did so with the greatest majority ever for a party in government. Outside Northern Ireland (which mostly has different parties bar and a different electoral landscape from the rest of the UK although a few UK wide parties stand with minimal success), 620 out of 641 seats remained with the same party as they had been in 1997. The Conservatives netted a gain of only 1 seat after their crushing defeat of 1997 (gaining a few seats from Labour, but losing to the Liberal Democrats), but the Liberal Democrats made a gain of 6 more seats from their already historical high of 1997. With 52 seats, the Liberal Democrats were well established as the third party of Britain and had their best result since the 1920s.

The elections were also marked by apathy from the voting public, turnout being only 59%, the lowest since 1918. Throughout the election the Labour party had maintained a significant lead in the opinion polls and the result was deemed to be so certain that some bookmakers paid out for a Labour majority before the election day.

Labour kept a majority of 247 (was 254) over the Conservatives and 167 (was 189) over all other parties combined.

In Northern Ireland, the election was far more dramatic marked a move away from the Good Friday Agreement, with the moderate Protestant and Catholic parties (UUP and SDLP) losing and the more extreme nationalist parties (DUP and Sinn Féin) winning. It also saw a tightening of the parties as the small UK Unionist Party lost its only seat.

Seat changes:

                              1997    gains   losses  2001
Labour                         419     2       8       413
Conservatives                  165     9       8       166
Liberal Democrats               46     8       2        52
Scottish National Party          6     0       1         5
Plaid Cymru                      4     1       1         4
Independents                     1     1       1         1
Northern Ireland:
UUP (Ulster Unionists)          10     1       5         6
DUP (Democratic Unionists)       2     3       0         5
SDLP (Nationalists)              3     0       0         3
Sinn Féin (Republicans)          2     2       0         4
others                           1     0       1         0

Share of Votes:
Labour                 40.7%
Conservatives          31.7%
Liberal Democrats      18.3%
others                  9.3%

See Also: