2001 United Kingdom general election

The 2001 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 7 June 2001, four years after the previous election on 1 May 1997, to elect 659 members to the House of Commons. The governing Labour Party was re-elected to serve a second term in government with another landslide victory, returning 412 members of Parliament versus 418 from the 1997 general election, a net loss of six seats, though with a significantly lower turnout than before—59.4%, compared to 71.3% at the previous election.[citation needed] The number of votes Labour received fell by nearly three million. Tony Blair went on to become the first Labour Prime Minister to serve two consecutive full terms in office. As Labour retained almost all of their seats won in the 1997 landslide victory, the media dubbed the 2001 election "the quiet landslide".[1]

2001 United Kingdom general election

 1997 7 June 2001 2005 

All 659 seats to the House of Commons
330 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls
Turnout59.4% (11.9%)
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Tony Blair William Hague Charles Kennedy
Party Labour Conservative Liberal Democrats
Leader since 21 July 1994 19 June 1997 9 August 1999
Leader's seat Sedgefield Richmond (Yorks) Ross, Skye and
Inverness West
Last election 418 seats, 43.2% 165 seats, 30.7% 46 seats, 16.8%
Seats won 412 166 52
Seat change 6 1 6
Popular vote 10,724,953 8,357,615 4,814,321
Percentage 40.7% 31.7% 18.3%
Swing 2.5% 1.0% 1.5%

Colours denote the winning party, as shown in the main table of results.

Composition of the House of Commons after the election

Prime Minister before election

Tony Blair

Prime Minister after election

Tony Blair

Seats won in the election (outer ring) against number of votes (inner ring).

There was little change outside Northern Ireland, with 620 out of the 641 seats in Great Britain electing candidates from the same party as they did in 1997. Factors contributing to the Labour victory included a strong economy, falling unemployment, and public perception that the Labour government had delivered on many key election pledges that it had made in 1997.[citation needed]

The opposition Conservative Party, under William Hague's leadership, was still deeply divided on the issue of Europe and the party's policy platform had drifted considerably to the right. A series of publicity stunts that backfired also harmed Hague, and he resigned as party leader three months following the election, becoming the first leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party in the House of Commons since Austen Chamberlain nearly eighty years prior not to serve as prime minister.

The election was largely a repeat of the 1997 general election, with Labour losing only six seats overall and the Conservatives making a net gain of one seat (gaining nine seats but losing eight). The Conservatives gained a seat in Scotland, which ended the party's status as an "England-only" party in the prior parliament, but failed again to win any seats in Wales. Although they did not gain many seats, three of the few new MPs elected were future Conservative Prime Ministers David Cameron and Boris Johnson and future Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne; Osborne would serve in the same Cabinet as Cameron from 2010 to 2016. The Liberal Democrats made a net gain of six seats.

The 2001 general election is the last to date in which any government has held an overall majority of more than 100 seats in the House of Commons, and the second of only two since the Second World War (the other being 1997) in which a single party won over 400 MPs. Notable departing MPs included former Prime Ministers Edward Heath (also Father of the House) and John Major, former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine, former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, former Cabinet ministers Tony Benn, Tom King, John Morris, Mo Mowlam, John MacGregor and Peter Brooke, Teresa Gorman, and then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone.

Change was seen in Northern Ireland, with the moderate unionist Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) losing four seats to the more hardline Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). A similar transition appeared in the nationalist community, with the moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) losing votes to the more staunchly republican and abstentionist Sinn Féin.

Exceptionally low voter turnout, which fell below 60% for the first (and so far, only) time since 1918, also marked this election.[2] The election was broadcast live on the BBC and presented by David Dimbleby, Jeremy Paxman, Andrew Marr, Peter Snow, and Tony King.[3]

The 2001 general election was notable for being the first in which pictures of the party logos appeared on the ballot paper. Prior to this, the ballot paper had only displayed the candidate's name, address, and party name.[4]