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UK General Election 1983 - Full Coverage
UK General Election 1983 - Full Coverage
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Election 1983 - Part 1
Election 1983 - Part 1
Published: 2010/04/12
Channel: Andy JS
1983 Election (ITN) - Part 1
1983 Election (ITN) - Part 1
Published: 2013/06/26
Channel: Andy JS
Election 1983 - Part 22
Election 1983 - Part 22
Published: 2010/04/15
Channel: Andy JS
BBC Rewind: 1983 Labour Party manifesto - BBC News
BBC Rewind: 1983 Labour Party manifesto - BBC News
Published: 2015/04/13
Channel: BBC News
Robert Harris reports on the 1983 general election - Newsnight Archives
Robert Harris reports on the 1983 general election - Newsnight Archives
Published: 2017/06/07
Channel: BBC Newsnight
General Elections 1983: Margaret Thatcher
General Elections 1983: Margaret Thatcher
Published: 2015/07/21
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BBC Election 83 theme and opening segment
BBC Election 83 theme and opening segment
Published: 2008/06/26
Channel: endlessraining
1983 Election - ITV/Thames next day coverage, Part 1
1983 Election - ITV/Thames next day coverage, Part 1
Published: 2013/10/08
Channel: Andy JS
Election 1983 - Part 26
Election 1983 - Part 26
Published: 2010/04/16
Channel: Andy JS
Election 1983 - Part 24
Election 1983 - Part 24
Published: 2010/04/16
Channel: Andy JS
7B Margaret Thatcher on 1983 General Election win 10June1983
7B Margaret Thatcher on 1983 General Election win 10June1983
Published: 2016/09/27
Channel: Carlota Moyano
Election 1983 - Part 25
Election 1983 - Part 25
Published: 2010/04/16
Channel: Andy JS
UK General Election BBC Exit Polls from 1974-2015
UK General Election BBC Exit Polls from 1974-2015
Published: 2016/10/18
Channel: ElectionProjection
UK General Election 1987 - Full Coverage
UK General Election 1987 - Full Coverage
Published: 2017/05/02
Channel: FkeBld
1983 Election (ITN) — Part 3
1983 Election (ITN) — Part 3
Published: 2013/06/28
Channel: Andy JS
UK General Election 1983 - Party Leaders on the Campaign Trail
UK General Election 1983 - Party Leaders on the Campaign Trail
Published: 2009/10/27
Channel: MrElectionist
Election 1983 - Part 21
Election 1983 - Part 21
Published: 2010/04/15
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UK General Election 1997 - Full Coverage
UK General Election 1997 - Full Coverage
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Channel: FkeBld
1983 Election - next day declarations
1983 Election - next day declarations
Published: 2013/09/06
Channel: Andy JS
Election 1983 - Part 20
Election 1983 - Part 20
Published: 2010/04/15
Channel: Andy JS
UK General Election 1992 - Full Coverage
UK General Election 1992 - Full Coverage
Published: 2017/05/01
Channel: FkeBld
Election 1983 - Part 2
Election 1983 - Part 2
Published: 2010/04/12
Channel: Andy JS
Election 1983 - Part 18
Election 1983 - Part 18
Published: 2010/04/15
Channel: Andy JS
UK General Election 1987 Results - The Morning After Opening
UK General Election 1987 Results - The Morning After Opening
Published: 2009/10/27
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BBC Lunchtime News: 10th June 1983
BBC Lunchtime News: 10th June 1983
Published: 2013/04/02
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UK General Election 1983 - Kinnock on the Falklands Factor
UK General Election 1983 - Kinnock on the Falklands Factor
Published: 2009/10/27
Channel: MrElectionist
UK election: A guide for non-Brits - BBC News
UK election: A guide for non-Brits - BBC News
Published: 2015/04/14
Channel: BBC News
Richmond Election 1983 | Thames News
Richmond Election 1983 | Thames News
Published: 2015/10/09
Channel: Thames News
Election 1983 - Part 27
Election 1983 - Part 27
Published: 2010/04/16
Channel: Andy JS
Election 1983 - Part 16
Election 1983 - Part 16
Published: 2010/04/14
Channel: Andy JS
1983 Election - ITV/BBC next day coverage, Part 3
1983 Election - ITV/BBC next day coverage, Part 3
Published: 2013/10/12
Channel: Andy JS
1983 Election (ITN) - Part 2
1983 Election (ITN) - Part 2
Published: 2013/06/26
Channel: Andy JS
1983 Australian Federal Election
1983 Australian Federal Election
Published: 2016/06/04
Channel: FunFillums
UK General Election 2010 - Full Coverage 1/2
UK General Election 2010 - Full Coverage 1/2
Published: 2017/01/09
Channel: FkeBld
Election 1983 - Part 7
Election 1983 - Part 7
Published: 2010/04/13
Channel: Andy JS
UK General Election 2001 - Full Coverage
UK General Election 2001 - Full Coverage
Published: 2017/01/13
Channel: FkeBld
1966 General Election - Part 1 of 2
1966 General Election - Part 1 of 2
Published: 2016/03/30
Channel: Here Is The News
1955 UK General Election Night complete BBC coverage
1955 UK General Election Night complete BBC coverage
Published: 2015/09/06
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UK General Election 2005 - Full Coverage
UK General Election 2005 - Full Coverage
Published: 2017/01/11
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It's Maggie for me! (1983 General Election Campaign Song)
Published: 2015/02/22
Channel: Michael Johnson
BBC: Election 92 (Part 1)
BBC: Election 92 (Part 1)
Published: 2017/04/09
Channel: Here Is The News
Election 1983 - Part 31
Election 1983 - Part 31
Published: 2010/04/16
Channel: Andy JS
BBC 1959 General Election Coverage Part 1
BBC 1959 General Election Coverage Part 1
Published: 2013/04/28
Channel: Flora
bbc swingtime a history of general election broadcasts
bbc swingtime a history of general election broadcasts
Published: 2013/03/30
Channel: chris latimer
Election 1979 Part 1/6
Election 1979 Part 1/6
Published: 2012/03/06
Channel: thatcheritescot
Election 1983 - Part 15
Election 1983 - Part 15
Published: 2010/04/14
Channel: Andy JS
UK political party leaders vote in general election
UK political party leaders vote in general election
Published: 2017/06/08
Channel: IBTimes UK
Election 1983 - Part 12
Election 1983 - Part 12
Published: 2010/04/14
Channel: Andy JS
Election 1983 - Part 5
Election 1983 - Part 5
Published: 2010/04/13
Channel: Andy JS
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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United Kingdom general election, 1983
United Kingdom
← 1979 9 June 1983 1987 →

All 650 seats in the House of Commons
326 seats needed for a majority
Turnout 72.7% (Decrease3.3%)
  First party Second party Third party
  Margaret Thatcher (1983).jpg Michael Foot (1981).jpg DavidSteel1987 cropped.jpg
Roy Jenkins 1977b.jpg
Leader Margaret Thatcher Michael Foot David Steel (Lib.)
Roy Jenkins (SDP)
Party Conservative Labour SDP–Liberal Alliance
Leader since 11 February 1975 4 November 1980 1976 (Steel), 1982 (Jenkins)
Leader's seat Finchley Blaenau Gwent Tweeddale (Steel)
Gla. Hillhead (Jenkins)
Last election 339 seats, 43.9% 269 seats, 36.9% 11 seats, 13.8%[1]
Seats before 359 261 11
Seats won 397 209 23[2]
Seat change Increase38 Decrease52 Increase12
Popular vote 13,012,316 8,456,934 7,780,949
Percentage 42.4% 27.6% 25.4%
Swing Decrease1.5% Decrease9.3% Increase11.6%

UK General Election, 1983.svg
Colours denote the winning party, as shown in the main table of results.

Prime Minister before election

Margaret Thatcher
Conservative

Subsequent Prime Minister

Margaret Thatcher
Conservative

The 1983 United Kingdom general election was held on 9 June 1983. It gave the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher the most decisive election victory since that of Labour in 1945.

Thatcher's first four years as prime minister had not been an easy time. Unemployment increased during the first three years of her term and the economy went through a recession. However, the British victory in the Falklands War led to a recovery of her popularity; the economy had also returned to growth. By the time Thatcher called the election in May 1983, the Conservatives were most people's firm favourites to win the election.[3] The Labour Party had been led by Michael Foot since the resignation of James Callaghan. They had fared well in opinion polls and local elections during this time, but issues developed which would lead directly to their defeat. Labour adopted a platform that was considered more left-wing than usual.[3][4] Several moderate Labour MPs had left the party to form the Social Democrats. The Social Democrats then formed the SDP–Liberal Alliance with the existing Liberal Party.

The opposition vote split almost evenly between the SDP/Liberal Alliance and Labour. With its worst performance since 1918, the Labour vote fell by over 3 million from 1979 and this accounted for both a national swing of almost 4% towards the Conservatives and their larger parliamentary majority of 144, even though the Conservatives' total vote fell by almost 700,000. This was the last election where a party in government increased its number of seats until 2015.

The SDP/Liberal Alliance finished in third place but came within 700,000 votes of out-polling Labour. By gaining 25% of the popular vote, the Alliance won the largest such percentage for any third party since the 1923 general election. Despite this, they won only 23 seats, whereas Labour won 209. The Liberals argued that a proportional electoral system would have given them a more representative number of MPs. Changing the electoral system had been a long-running Liberal Party campaign plank and would later be adopted by the Liberal Democrats.

The election night was broadcast live on the BBC, and was presented by David Dimbleby, Robin Day and Peter Snow.[5] It was also broadcast on ITV, and presented by Alastair Burnet, Peter Sissons and Martyn Lewis.

Two future prime ministers, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, were first elected as MPs in this election, as well as future leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn. Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers, Joan Lestor and Tony Benn left Parliament as a result of this election.

Background and campaign[edit]

Michael Foot was elected leader of the Labour party in 1980, replacing James Callaghan. The election of Foot signalled that the core of the party was swinging to the left and the move exacerbated divisions within the party. In 1981 a group of senior figures including Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams left Labour to found the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The SDP agreed to a pact with the Liberals for the 1983 elections and stood as The Alliance.

The campaign displayed the huge divisions between the two major parties. Thatcher had been extremely unpopular during her first two years in office until the swift and decisive victory in the Falklands War, coupled with an improving economy, considerably raised her standings in the polls. The Conservatives' key issues included employment, economic growth and defence. Labour's campaign manifesto involved leaving the European Economic Community, abolishing the House of Lords, abandoning the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent by cancelling Trident and removing cruise missiles. A programme dubbed by Labour MP Gerald Kaufman "the longest suicide note in history". "Although, at barely 37 pages, it only seemed interminable", noted Roy Hattersley. Pro-Labour political journalist Michael White, writing in The Guardian, commented, "There was something magnificently brave about Michael Foot's campaign but it was like the Battle of the Somme".[6]

Notional election, 1979[edit]

Following boundary changes in 1983, the BBC and ITN (Independent Television News) co-produced a calculation of how the 1979 general election would have gone if fought on the new 1983 boundaries. The following table shows the effects of the boundary changes on the House of Commons:

UK General Election 1979
Party Seats Gains Losses Net gain/loss Seats % Votes % Votes +/−
  Conservative 359 +20 55 44.9 13,703,429
  Labour 261 -8 40 37.7 11,512,877
  Liberal 9 -2 1 14.2 4,324,936
  SNP 2 0 0 1.6 497,128
  Plaid Cymru 2 0 0 0.4 135,241
  Others 17 +5 3 3.4 1,063,263

Timeline[edit]

The Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited Buckingham Palace on the afternoon of 9 May and asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament on 13 May, announcing that the election would be held on 9 June. The key dates were as follows:

Friday 13 May Dissolution of the 48th parliament and campaigning officially begins
Monday 23 May Last day to file nomination papers; 2,579 candidates enter
Wednesday 8 June Campaigning officially ends
Thursday 9 June Polling day
Friday 10 June The Conservative Party wins with a majority of 144 to retain power
Wednesday 15 June 49th parliament assembles
Wednesday 22 June State Opening of Parliament

Results[edit]

The election saw a landslide victory for the Conservatives, achieving their best results since 1935. Although there was a slight drop in their share of the vote, they made significant gains at the expense of Labour. The night was a disaster for the Labour party; their share of the vote fell by over 9%, which meant they were only 700,000 votes ahead of the newly formed 3rd party the SDP–Liberal Alliance. The massive increase of support for the Alliance at the expense of Labour meant that, in many seats, the collapse in the Labour vote allowed the Conservatives to win. Despite winning over 25% of the national vote, the Alliance got fewer than 4% of seats, 186 fewer than Labour. The most significant Labour loss of the night was Tony Benn, who was defeated in the revived Bristol East seat. SDP President Shirley Williams, then a prominent leader in the Social Democratic Party, lost her Crosby seat which she had won in a by-election in 1981. Bill Rodgers, another leading figure in the Alliance (like Williams, one of the "Gang of Four") also failed to win his old seat that he previously held as a Labour MP.

In Scotland, both Labour and the Tories sustained modest losses to the Alliance. Labour remained by far the largest party, with 41 seats to 21 for the Scottish Conservatives. The Scottish Conservatives have been unable to match their 1983 Westminster seat total since, although they did record a slightly larger share of the Scottish vote in 2017.

397 209 23 21
Conservative Labour Alliance O
United Kingdom General Election 1983
Candidates Votes
Party Leader Standing Elected Gained Unseated Net  % of total  % No. Net %
  Conservative Margaret Thatcher 633 397 47 10 + 37 61.1 42.4 13,012,316 – 1.5
  Labour Michael Foot 633 209 4 55 – 51 32.2 27.6 8,456,934 – 9.3
  SDP–Liberal Alliance David Steel/Roy Jenkins 636[7] 23 12 0 +12 4.5 25.4 7,794,770 +11.6
  SNP Gordon Wilson 72 2 0 0 0 0.3 1.1 331,975 – 0.5
  UUP James Molyneaux 16 11 3 1 + 2 1.7 0.8 259,952 0.0
  DUP Ian Paisley 14 3 2 1 + 1 0.5 0.5 152,749 + 0.3
  SDLP John Hume 17 1 0 1 – 1 0.2 0.4 137,012 0.0
  Plaid Cymru Dafydd Wigley 38 2 0 0 0 0.3 0.4 125,309 0.0
  Sinn Féin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh 14 1 1 1 0 0.2 0.3 102,701 N/A
  Alliance Oliver Napier 12 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.2 61,275 – 0.1
  Ecology Jonathon Porritt 109 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.2 54,299 + 0.1
  Independent N/A 73 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 30,422 N/A
  National Front Andrew Brons 60 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 27,065 – 0.5
  Ulster Popular Unionist James Kilfedder 1 1 1 0 + 1 0.2 0.1 22,861 N/A
  Independent Labour N/A 8 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.1 16,447 0.0
  Workers' Party Tomás Mac Giolla 14 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 14,650 – 0.1
  BNP John Tyndall 54 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 14,621 N/A
  Communist Gordon McLennan 35 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 11,606 – 0.1
  Independent Socialist N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 10,326 N/A
  Independent Conservative N/A 10 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 9,442 0.0
  Independent Communist N/A 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 4,760 N/A
  Workers Revolutionary Michael Banda 21 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 3,798 – 0.1
  Monster Raving Loony Screaming Lord Sutch 11 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 3,015 N/A
  Wessex Regionalist 10 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 1,750 0.0
  Mebyon Kernow Richard Jenkin 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 1,151 N/A
  Independent DUP N/A 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 1,134 N/A
  Licensees 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 934 N/A
  Nationalist Party 5 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 874 N/A
  Labour and Trade Union Peter Hadden 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 584 N/A
  Revolutionary Communist Frank Furedi 4 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 581 N/A
  Freedom Party 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 508 N/A

All parties with more than 500 votes shown.

Government's new majority 144
Total votes cast 30,661,309
Turnout 72.7%

N.B. The SDP–Liberal Alliance vote is compared with the Liberal Party vote in the 1979 election.

The Independent Unionist elected in the 1979 election defended and held his seat for the Ulster Popular Unionist Party. The United Ulster Unionist Party dissolved and its sole MP did not re-stand.

The Independent Republican elected in the 1979 election died in 1981. In the ensuring by-election the seat was won by Bobby Sands, an Anti-H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner who then died and was succeeded by an Anti-H-Block Proxy Political Prisoner candidate Owen Carron. He defended and lost his seat standing for Sinn Féin who contested seats in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1959.

This election was fought under revised boundaries. The changes reflect those comparing to the notional results on the new boundaries. One significant change was the increase in the number of seats allocated to Northern Ireland from 12 to 17.

Votes summary[edit]

Ring charts of the election results showing popular vote against seats won, coloured in party colours
Seats won in the election (outer ring) against number of votes (inner ring)
Popular vote
Conservative
  
42.4%
Labour
  
27.6%
SDP/Liberal
  
25.4%
Scottish National
  
1.1%
Ulster Unionist
  
0.9%
Independent
  
0.3%
Others
  
2.4%

Seats summary[edit]

Parliamentary seats
Conservative
  
61.1%
Labour
  
32.2%
SDP/Liberal
  
3.5%
Ulster Unionist
  
1.7%
Others
  
1.5%
Data from Guardian daily polls published in The Guardian between May and June 1983
Colour Key: BLUE Conservative, RED Labour, ORANGE Alliance, BLACK Others
The disproportionality of the house of parliament in the 1983 election was 20.62 according to the Gallagher Index, mainly between the Conservatives and SDP–Liberal Alliance.

Incumbents defeated[edit]

Labour[edit]

Social Democratic Party[edit]

Independent Labour[edit]

Sinn Féin[edit]

Social Democratic and Labour Party[edit]

Liberal Party[edit]

Conservative[edit]

Target tables[edit]

Conservative targets[edit]

Rank Constituency 1983 winner
1 Isle of Wight SDP–Liberal Alliance
2 Oxford East Con
3 Cunninghame North Con
4 Corby Con
5 Nottingham East Con
6 Hertfordshire West Con
7 Mitcham and Morden Con
8 Derbyshire South Con
9 Leicestershire North West Con
10 Southampton Itchen Con
11 Halifax Con
12 Stockton South SDP–Liberal Alliance
13 Lewisham West Con
14 Edmonton Con
15 Stevenage Con
16 York Con
17 Darlington Con
18 Ceredigion and Pembroke North SDP–Liberal Alliance
19 Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber SDP–Liberal Alliance
20 Bridgend Con

Labour targets[edit]

To regain an overall majority, Labour needed to make at least 65 gains.

Rank Constituency 1983 winner
1 Birmingham Northfield Con
2 Bury South Con
3 Dulwich Con
4 Liverpool Broadgreen Labour
5 Nottingham South Con
6 Aberdeen South Con
7 Stirling Con
8 Hornchurch Con
9 Luton South Con
10 Calder Valley Con
11 Pendle Con
12 Bolton North East Con
13 Cardiff Central Con
14 Croydon North West Con
15 Fulham Con
16 Cambridge Con
17 Birmingham Erdington Labour
18 Dudley West Con
19 Welwyn Hatfield Con
20 Glasgow Cathcart Labour

SDP–Liberal Alliance targets[edit]

Rank Constituency 1983 winner
1 Roxburgh and Berwickshire SDP-Liberal Alliance
2 Richmond and Barnes Con
3 Montgomeryshire SDP-Liberal Alliance
4 Chelmsford Con
5 Wiltshire North Con
6 Cornwall North Con
7 Hereford Con
8 Colne Valley SDP-Liberal Alliance
9 Gordon SDP-Liberal Alliance
10 Southport Con
11 Salisbury Con
12 Devon North Con
13 Gainsborough and Horncastle Con
14 Cornwall South East Con
15 Clwyd South West Con
16 Liverpool Broadgreen Labour
17 Newbury Con
18 Yeovil SDP-Liberal Alliance
19 Pudsey Con
20 Ross, Cromarty and Skye SDP-Liberal Alliance

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ As Liberal Party
  2. ^ 6 SDP, 17 Liberal
  3. ^ a b "BBC: 1983: Thatcher triumphs again". BBC. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "BBC: Michael Foot: What did the 'longest suicide note' say?". BBC. Retrieved 22 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Andy JS (12 April 2010). "Election 1983 - Part 1" – via YouTube. 
  6. ^ White, Michael (11 April 2005). "Michael White on 35 years of covering elections". The Guardian. 
  7. ^ Includes official Liberal candidates who were not given national Alliance endorsement in three constituencies: Liverpool Broadgreen, Hackney South and Shoreditch, and Hammersmith.

Further reading[edit]

  • Butler, David E. et al. The British General Election of 1983 (1984), the standard scholarly study
  • F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987
  • Clarke, Harold D., William Mishler, and Paul Whiteley. "Recapturing the Falklands: models of Conservative popularity, 1979–83." British Journal of Political Science 20#1 (1990): 63-81.

Manifestos[edit]

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