Spotlight on the 2010 British General Election
The General Election of 2010 was held on 6 May and was primarily fought between the Labour Party who were attempting to achieve a fourth term in government, the Conservative Party who were attempting to end their longest spell in opposition since the founding of the party and finally the Liberal Democrats who were attempting to build upon the relative success of 2005 and secure a larger share of the parliamentary seats.
This election was held shortly after the banking crisis of 2007. As a result the election centred on the economic future of Britain with slogans such as “a future, fair for all” being used by the incumbent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and “vote for change” from the Conservative Party leader David Cameron who claimed the financial crisis was down to Labour policies.
Significance of the Election
• The introduction of tv debates to be held for the first time in British election history
• The rare and very real possibility that the election would produce no clear majority making a coalition the most likely outcome.
The Televised Debates
- The Conservative Party won 306 seats of 650 (48%) and therefore failed to secure the majority required to form a government. However despite failing to secure a majority the Conservatives polled 36.1% of the vote an increase of 3.7% on the results of the 2005 election. In addition to this the number of female Conservative MPs increased from 17 to 49 and now means that 16% of all Conservative MPs are women. Finally 11 ethnic minority MPs were elected for the Conservative party 9 more than in 2005.
- The Labour Party won 258 seats of 650 (40%) a drop of 90 seats compared with their 2005 total. Labour polled 29.0% of the vote a fall of 6.2%. The geographical breakdown of Labour’s seats is markedly different from that of the Conservatives who won 97% of their seats in England, with Labour securing 36% of the seats in England, 65% of the seats in Wales and 69% of the seats in Scotland. In addition to this 81 female MPs were elected for Labour 17 fewer than in 2005 to make 31% of the total number of Labour MPs. Finally 16 ethnic minority MPs were elected for Labour, 3 more than in 2005.
- The Liberal Democrats won 57 seats of 650 (9%) and despite strong performances in the leadership debates an upsurge in popularity this is a decrease of 5 seats on the parties 2005 total. The Liberal Democrats polled 23.0% of the vote and came second to Labour in Scotland. The number of female MPs elected for the Liberal Democrats was 7 a decrease from 10 in 2005 making 12% of Liberal Democrat MPs women. Finally there are no ethnic minority Liberal Democrat MPs.