2015 United Kingdom general election
The 2015 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday, 7 May 2015 to elect 650 members to the House of Commons. It was the first and only general election held at the end of a Parliament under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. Local elections took place in most areas on the same day.
All 650 seats in the House of Commons
326 seats needed for a majority
Composition of the House of Commons after the election
Polls and commentators had predicted the outcome would be too close to call and would result in a second consecutive hung parliament that would be either similar or more complicated than the 2010 election. Opinion polls were eventually proven to have underestimated the Conservative vote as the party, having governed in coalition with the Liberal Democrats since 2010, won 330 seats and 36.9% of the vote share, giving them a small overall majority of 12 seats (including the Speaker - ten seats without him) and their first outright win for 23 years.
The Labour Party, led by Ed Miliband who had succeeded Gordon Brown following his resignation after the 2010 general election, saw a small increase in its share of the vote to 30.4%, but incurred a net loss of seats to return 232 MPs. This was its lowest seat tally since the 1987 general election. Senior Labour Shadow Cabinet members, notably Ed Balls, Douglas Alexander, and Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, were defeated.
The Scottish National Party, enjoying a surge in support after the 2014 Scottish independence referendum (which saw the majority of voters back Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom), recorded a number of swings of over 30% from Labour, as it won all but three of the 59 Scottish seats to become the third-largest party in the Commons.
The Liberal Democrats, led by outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, had their worst result since their formation in 1988, losing all but eight of their 57 seats, with Cabinet ministers Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Danny Alexander losing their seats, although Clegg managed to retain his seat. UKIP came third in terms of votes with 12.6%, but won only one seat, with party leader Nigel Farage failing to win the seat of South Thanet. The Green Party won its highest-ever share of the vote with 3.8%, and retained its only seat. Labour's Miliband (as national leader) and Murphy (as Scottish leader) both resigned, as did Clegg for the Liberal Democrats. In Northern Ireland, the Ulster Unionist Party returned to the Commons with two MPs after a five-year absence, while the Alliance Party lost its only seat despite an increase in total vote share.
The election is in retrospect considered to have begun a political realignment in the UK's electoral politics, marking the end of the traditional three-party domination seen for most of the previous century. The Scottish National Party began its domination of Scotland's representation in Westminster (having already begun dominating Holyrood elections in the previous decade). It also saw one of the last public appearances of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy who lost his seat in Ross, Skye and Lochaber to the Scottish Nationalist Ian Blackford before his death on 1 June.