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United Kingdom general election, 2001

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2001 election MPs
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The UK general election, 2001 was held on 7 June 2001 and was dubbed "the quiet landslide" by the media. There was little change at all - outside Northern Ireland - with 620 out of 641 seats remaining unchanged. Labour enjoyed its second so called 'landslide victory' (not a landslide but more of a slip back as the Labour Party share of the vote dropped by 2.5% from 1997) in a row, maintaining its position from the previous election. Tony Blair became the first Labour prime minister to win enough seats to have a full second consecutive term in office. Labour won a majority of 167 overall (previously 179) and 247 over the Conservatives (previously 254).

The Conservatives netted a gain of only 1 seat after their crushing defeat of 1997 (gaining a few seats from Labour, but losing to the Liberal Democrats). Conservative leader William Hague resigned immediately, becoming the first Conservative leader since Austen Chamberlain to leave office without becoming Prime Minister. The Liberal Democrats, under Charles Kennedy, made a gain of 6 more seats from their already historical high of 1997.

The elections were also marked by voter apathy, with turnout falling to 59%, the lowest since the Coupon Election of 1918. Throughout the election the Labour Party had maintained a significant lead in the opinion polls and the result was deemed to be so certain that some bookmakers paid out for a Labour majority before the election day.

The election had been expected in May, to coincide with local elections, but both were postponed because of rural movement restrictions imposed in response to a foot and mouth outbreak. One of the more noted events of a quiet campaign was when a countryside protester Craig Evans threw an egg at Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in Rhyl; Prescott then punched him and a struggle ensued, in front of television cameras. The 2001 Election also saw the rare election of an independent. Dr. Richard Taylor of Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern (usually now known simply as "Health Concern") unseated a government minister. There was also a high vote for British National Party leader Nick Griffin in Oldham, in the wake of recent race riots in the town.

In Northern Ireland, the election was far more dramatic and marked a move by unionists away from support for the Good Friday Agreement, with the moderate unionist Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) losing to the more hardline Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). This polarisation was also seen in the nationalist community, with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) vote losing out to the hardline republican Sinn Féin. It also saw a tightening of the parties as the small UK Unionist Party lost its only seat.

During the election, Sharron Storer, a resident of Birmingham, England, criticised Prime Minister Tony Blair in front of television cameras about conditions in the National Health Service. The widely-televised incident happened on 16 May during a campaign visit by Blair to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Sharron Storer's partner, Keith Sedgewick, a cancer patient with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and therefore highly susceptible to infection, was being treated at the time in the bone marrow unit, but no bed could be found for him and he was transferred to the casualty unit for his first 24 hours.

Results

Total votes cast: 26,368,204. All parties with more than 500 votes shown.

The seat gains reflect changes on the 1997 general election result. Two seats had changed hands in by-elections in the intervening period. These were as follows:

The results of the election give a Gallagher index of disproportionality of 17.74.

See also

Manifestos

References

External links

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