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What happened in the 2001 General Election

In 2001 Tony Blair sought permission from Queen Elizabeth II to call a General Election. This meant that 659 parliamentary seats in the House of Commons, were up for grabs as Members of Parliament and candidates fought for peoples votes.

The Candidates for Prime Minister

In principle the British public vote for the political party that they wish to see in Government and ruling the country. In practice how people feel about the leader of each political party is a major factor as they will become Prime Minister if enough of the candidates representing their party win.

Party Leaders

  • Tony Blair MP, Leader of the Labour Party and existing Prime Minister
  • William Hague MP, Leader of the Opposition and Conservative Party
  • Charles Kennedy MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The Campaign

The Labour Party campaigned on a strong economy and falling unemployment whilst the Conservative Party led a campaign, fought strongly on European politics.

The Result

Party Seats Gains Losses Net
Lab 413 2 8 -6
Con 166 9 8 +1
LibDe 52 8 2 +6

The election was held on Thursday 7 June 2001. The political picture didn’t really change. It was recorded as the lowest voter turnout since 1918 at around 60% of those eligible to vote choosing to do so.

The Conservatives gained nine seats in Parliament but lost eight meaning virtually no change. Labour lost six seats.

Charles Kennedy MP described the Liberal Democrats as the opposition party of the future. The Liberal Democrats won seven more seats in the House of Commons.

One of the MP’s elected in 2001 was the current Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Aftermath

Prime Minister Tony Blair, elected in 1997 was returned as Prime Minister. Speaking of his victory he said “our mandate is to carry on the work we have started.”

Mr Blair went to Buckingham Palace on 8 June 2001 to ask the Queen if he could form a government.

Having failed to gain power, the Conservative Party Leader, Mr Hague resigned on 8 June 2001 as leader of the Party. On leaving his post Mr Hague said ‘ no man is indispensable. No man is more important than the party’. Following a leadership contest Mr Iain Duncan Smith became the new Conservative Party Leader.

Tony Blair