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United Kingdom general election, 1964: Map


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The United Kingdom general election of 1964 was held on 15 October 1964, more than five years after its predecessor, and thirteen years after the Conservative Party had first taken power. Both major parties had changed leaders in 1963: after the sudden death of Hugh Gaitskell, Labour chose Harold Wilson (who was then thought of as being on the party's centre left), and the Conservatives had unexpectedly chosen Alec Douglas-Home (also called the Earl of Home) as their new leader after Harold Macmillan announced his resignation (Home shortly after disclaimed his title under the Peerage Act 1963 in order to lead the party from the Commons). Macmillan's government had been increasingly unpopular in the mid-term, and Douglas-Home faced a difficult task in rebuilding the party's popularity. Wilson had begun to try to tie the Labour Party to the growing confidence of Britain in the 1960s, arguing that the technological revolution would sweep away restrictive practices on both sides of industry.


The pre-election campaign was prolonged as Douglas-Home delayed calling a general election in order to try to give himself the maximum time to improve the prospects of his party. The starting gun of the campaign was fired on 15 September 1964 when Douglas-Home saw the Queen and asked for a dissolution of Parliament. The campaign was dominated by some of the more voluble characters on the political scene: George Brown, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, toured the country making energetic speeches and the occasional gaffe, and Quintin Hogg for the Conservatives responded in kind. The image of Hogg lashing out at a Harold Wilson poster with his walking stick was one of the most striking of the campaign. Many party speakers, especially at televised rallies, had to deal with hecklers: Sir Alec Douglas-Home in particular was treated very roughly in a meeting at Birminghammarker.

National opinion poll summary

NOP: Lab swing 3.5% (Lab majority of 12)

Gallup: Lab swing 4% (Lab majority of 23)

Research Services: Lab swing 2.75% (Con majority of 30)

Daily Express: Lab swing of 1.75% (Con majority of 60)


The election resulted in a very slim majority for the Labour Party, of four seats, and led to their first government since 1951. Labour achieved a swing of just over 3% although its own vote rose by only 0.2%. The Liberal Party won nearly twice as many votes as in 1959, but did so partly by nominating 150 more candidates. Harold Wilson became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, replacing Sir Alec Douglas-Home. The majority was not sustainable for a full Parliament and Wilson called another general election in 1966. In particular, the small majority of Wilson's government resulted in its being unable to implement the party's policy of nationalising the steel industry, due to the opposition of two of its back benchers: Woodrow Wyatt and Desmond Donnelly.

The election also saw the only time in the UK's recent history where all seats were divided between only the three main parties; that is, no minor parties, independents or splinter groups were able to obtain a seat.

Total votes cast on 15 October 1964: 27,657,148. All parties are shown. Conservative total includes Ulster Unionists and National Liberals.

Votes summary

Headline Swing: 3.10% to Labour

Seats summary

Seats Changing Hands

From Conservative to Labour (63 seats): Battersea South, Bolton East, Bradford North, Brighton Kemptown, Buckingham, Bury and Radcliffe, Carlisle, Darlington, Doncaster, Dover, Dulwich, Ealing North, Epping, Glasgow Kelvingrove, Glasgow Pollok, Glasgow Woodside, Gravesend, Halifax, Heywood and Royton, Hitchin, King's Lynn, Kingston upon Hull North, Liverpool Kirkdale, Liverpool Toxteth, Liverpool Walton, Liverpool West Derby, Luton, Manchester Blackley, Manchester Wythenshawe, Middlesbrough West, Norwich South, Nottingham Central, Preston South, Putney, Renfrewshire West, Rutherglen, Stockport North, Stockport South, Sunderland South, Wandsworth Central, Watford, Woolwich West, Acton, Barons Court, Birmingham All Saints, Birmingham Sparkbrook, Birmingham Yardley, Clapham, Cleveland, Coventry South, Derbyshire South East, Holborn and St Pancras South, Keighley, Meriden, Newcastle upon Tyne East, Nottingham West, Rochester and Chatham, Rowley Regis and Tipton, Swansea West, The Hartlepools, Wellingborough, Willesden East and Willesden West

From Conservative to Liberal (4 seats): Bodmin, Inverness, Orpington and Ross and Cromarty

From Labour to Conservative (4 seats): Birmingham Perry Barr, Eton and Slough, Norfolk South West and Smethwick

From Liberal to Labour (2 seats): Bolton West and Huddersfield West

From Independent to Liberal (1 seat): Caithness and Sutherland

Televised declarations

These declarations were covered live by the BBC where the returning officer was heard to say "duly elected".

Constituency Winning party 1959 Constituency result 1964 by party Winning party 1964
Con Lab Lib Others

19,797 14,557 7,568
Salford West

16,446 20,490

35,347 33,755 10,706

18,035 16,673 8,815
Battersea South

10,615 12,263 3,294
Liverpool Exchange

7,239 16,985
Holborn and St Pancras South

13,117 15,823 226
North Devon

13,985 4,306 19,031
Stockport South

13,718 16,755 7,107
Barons Courtmarker

14,800 15,966 2,821
Bolton Westmarker

13,522 16,519 10,086

16,690 14,916 262

22,940 42,213 899

19,565 4,609 22,637

16,889 5,867 14,831
  • Orpington was won by the Liberals in a by-election in 1962 and held in the general election. When this happens, it is described as a "win" as opposed to a "gain" or "hold".


See also


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