The United Kingdom general election of 1970
held on 18 June 1970, and resulted in a surprise victory for the
leader Edward Heath
, who defeated the
under Harold Wilson
. The election also saw the
and its new leader
lose half their seats.
The Conservatives, including the Ulster Unionists
, would be given a
majority of 31. The election was the first in which people could
vote from the age of 18, after the Representation of the
People Act 1969
Most opinion polls
prior to the
election had predicted a comfortable Labour victory and had put
Labour up to 12.4% ahead of the Conservatives. However on election
day, a late swing gave the Conservatives a 3.4% lead.
The Election date was fixed because Harold
wanted to go to the polls before the introduction of
in early 1971
, for which his government had been responsible and
which he thought was hugely unpopular. The date of 18 June was
fixed because Wilson sought to gain some momentum by surprising the
Conservatives, who were expecting an October election.
Commentators believed that an unexpectedly bad set of balance of
payments figures released in polling week, and loss of national
prestige after the England football team's defeat in the World Cup,
contributed to the Labour defeat.
In "exhaustive research" of the election, the American pollster
Douglas Schoen and Oxford University academic R. W. Johnson
believed it "beyond dispute" that Enoch
had attracted 2.5 million votes to the Conservatives.
Johnson later wrote that "It became clear that Powell had won the
1970 election for the Tories...of all those who had switched their
vote from one party to another in the election, 50 per cent were
working class Powellites. Not only had 18 per cent of Labour
Powellites switched to the Tories but so had 24 per cent of Liberal
Powellites". Johnson further believed that the votes Powell brought
to the Conservatives were "quite possibly four or five
The most notable casualty of the election was George Brown
, Deputy Leader
of the Labour Party, who lost to the Conservative candidate in the
constituency. Brown had held the seat since 1945.
On the BBC, the election coverage was led by Cliff Michelmore
along with Robin Day
. There were various cutaways to the BBC regions. The
coverage was shown again on BBC
on 26 September 2003, and a third time on 18 July
2005 as a tribute to Edward Heath upon his death the previous day.
The 1970 General Election's BBC coverage was also parodied by
Monty Python's Flying
in its famous Election
Opinion poll summary
ORC (Opinion Research Council): Conservative lead of 1%
Harris (Express Newspapers): Labour lead of 2%
NOP (National Opinion Polls): Labour lead of 4%
Marplan: Labour lead of 9%
BBC Exit Poll in Gravesend constituency: Conservative lead of
It should be noted that the ORC and BBC poll were conducted the day
before and the day of polling. All other polls were conducted the
weekend before polling.
Total votes cast: 28,305,534. All parties are
listed. The Conservative figure includes eight Ulster Unionists.
(From BBC Parliament Replay.)These declarations were covered live
by the BBC where the returning officer was heard to say "duly
||Winning party 1966
||Constituency result by party
||Winning party 1970
|Wolverhampton North East
|Wolverhampton South West
|Newcastle upon Tyne Central
|Newcastle upon Tyne North