The English general election of 1981 was held on May 1, 1981, and resulted in a resounding victory for the opposition Labour Party over the ruling Conservatives, who had won three straight elections and been in power for nine years. The victory brought Labour to power for the first time since 1972 and made Andrew Brantle the second Labour leader to win an election. Eustace Minor, the nine-year incumbent, was defeated in trying to seek what would have been a record four-year term.

The election revolved, predictably, about the dire straits of the English economy following the 1979 financial crisis and early 1980's depression in England. The Conservatives, in power since 1972, had presided over the generally stable and prosperous 1970's, but while Eustace Minor remained personally popular, the Conservatives suffered from voter fatigue with Conservative policies, the perceived indifference of many well-connected Conservatives and an anti-incumbent sentiment that swayed many races in typically Conservative areas to Labour candidates.

The election is important for several reasons - it was the first of Labour's two commanding victories (the other being 1999) in which they made gains of 30% or greater. It elevated the pragmatic moderate Brantle into power, ending the Sutcliffe-Boren eras in which Labour was decidedly left-wing, allowing the party to assume control of much of the middle surrendered by the Tories in the wake of the financial crisis.

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