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Alternate History

United Kingdom general election, 1975 (The Found Order)

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First Party Second Party Third Party
Whitelaw2
Roy Jenkins
Jeremy20Thorpe
Leader Willie Whitelaw Roy Jenkins Jeremy Thorpe
Party Conservative Labour Liberal
Last Election 265 359 11
Seats Won 341 247 32
Seats Change +76 -115 +21
Percentage 43.2% 37.8% 16.7%

The 1975 election saw the end of 16 years of Labour government, with labour losing over 100 seats. This was also the best result for the liberals since 1933. Whitelaw led his party to victory, but with a modest majority as opposed to the landslide predicted in opinion polls in 1974.

Background

Ever since the oil crisis of October 1973 labour had been trailing in the polls, by as much as 30% through Spring 1974.

Campaign

Labour Campaign

Jenkins asked the country to give him another 5 years in office, but remained strangely absent from many political broadcasts, instead allowing more popular figures such as James Callaghan and Shirley Williams to appear. Jenkins himself only featured in a series of large public meetings. The Labour campaign was misguided from the start, and many senior labour figures themselves expected to be defeated.

Conservative Campaign

The Tory campaign emphasised the increase in industrial action since 1969, and that living costs had risen over the past 5 years. Whitelaw was portrayed as a reassuring, grandfatherly figure in contrast to a chaotic and contradictory labour cabinet.

Liberal Campaign

The Liberal campaigned on the issue of industrial relations and political stability, claiming that both parties would be arrogant in government and that a coalition including the liberal party was necessary to "moderate the extremists on both sides". Thorpe's personal charisma also gained the liberal's support.

Results

The liberals did particularly well, nearly trebling their representation in parliament.

Aftermath

The day after the election Jenkins announced he would resign the leadership and would not recontest the leadership.

The Conservative party entered government for the first time since 1959, but was to face many problems in office, narrowly reelected in 1979, Labour was to return to office under Callaghan in 1982.

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