Results and Analysis

General Election, 5th May 2005

The final number of seats won by the parties was:

Lab 355 (-57);   Con 198 (+32);   LibD 62 (+10);   SNP 6 (+1); PC 3 (-1);
DUP 9 (+4); SF 5 (+1); SDLP 3 (n/c); IKHHC 1 (n/c); Respect 1 (+1); Independent 1 (+1); Speaker 1 (n/c); UUP 1 (-5);
A Labour majority of 65, if you exclude the Speaker, 66 if you exclude the Speaker and his three deputies, and 71 if you also exclude the 5 Sinn Féin MPs who did not take up their seats.
See the note below for a discussion of this issue §

646 seats — see the list of constituencies for a note on the changes. The election in Staffordshire South was delayed because of the death of the LibDem candidate, and was held on 23rd June

There is a breakdown of seats and percentage votes by region

Detailed results:

The total electorate was 44,245,939 of whom 27,148,510 voted - a turnout of 61.36%

ElectorateTotal VoteTurnout
England37,041,39622,704,30261.29%
Northern Ireland1,139,993717,60262.95%
Scotland3,839,9002,333,88760.78%
Wales2,224,6501,392,71962.60%

The average electorate size was 68,492. In Conservative won seats the average was 72,715, Labour 66,665, LibDem 69,162, Plaid Cymru 44,296, and SNP 58,448.

Altogether 116 'parties' stood in the election (out of a total of 316 registed political parties) - see the full list for details. The three major parties between them accounted for 89.59% of the votes cast. But Labour achieved its 54.95% of seats on the basis of support from 21.59% of the electorate. The list shows the percentage of votes obtained by each of the parties.

A total of 3,554 candidates stood in the election, of whom 1,385 lost their deposits (38.97%) and spent £692,500 in doing so. 9 candidates (8 Labour, 1 Sinn Fein) obtained majorities that were more than 50% of the votes cast. A candidate in Cardiff North standing for the Vote For Yourself party presumably did just that, and got one vote. 15 candidates stood in Sedgefield.

The average majority was 7,687. Among Conservative seats the average was 8,283, in Labour seats 7,815, and in the LibDem seats it was 5,357. How this compares with previous elections may be seen here.There is a list of constituencies in order of percentage majority, together with separate lists for the three main parties in order of marginality. Excluding Scotland, where there were new seats, 526 seats returned candidates of the same party as in the 2001 election. The Conservatives had increased majorities in 84.47% of their seats, Labour candidates only increased their majorities in 8.92% of their seats, while the LibDems increased their majorities in nearly half (47.22%) of their seats. There is a full list here.

It is also interesting to note that in about a third (219) of the constituencies the winner had more than 50% of the votes cast, and there is a list of constituencies in order of the winner's percentage of votes cast. One issue that often interests people is what proportion of the electorate a winning candidate achieves. This is also included in this list. In Poplar & Canning Town 18.36% of the electorate voted for the winning Labour candidate.

Turnout ranged from 41.51% in Liverpool Riverside to 76.43% in Dorset West, though the Staffordshire South election, held later, had a turnout of 37.21%. Constituencies are listed in order of turnout. Some analysis of turnout is available at the Electoral Commission pdf(5.5MB).

There is a list of constituencies in the order in which their results were declared.

Party election manifestos are available here

§ NOTE: The calculation of the government's actual working majority is a somewhat fraught affair. There are several problems, including the 5 Sinn Féin MPs who did not take up their seats, and those people who do not normally vote, such as the Speaker (who did not stand in the election under a party label) and his three deputies (who did stand under party labels). The BBC, with whom I have been in dispute about their reporting of the result, takes the view that it distorts the government's majority if you don't count the Speaker as a Labour MP. David Cowling (Editor, Politics in the BBC Specialist Research Unit) argues that they and other media bodies have included the Speaker in the party total for some years. The BBC also points out that Professor David Butler does the same. I have not spoken to Professor Butler about this.

However, the real issue is that David Cowling and the others who take this view don't seem to understand that reporting how many Labour MPs were elected to Parliament and calculating the government's majority are two entirely separate issues. One is reporting facts about how the world is, the other is analysis. You can make whatever analytical assumptions you like about the Speaker and his deputies in your calculation of the majority. People making different assumptions may well arrive at different figures. The BBC's figure of 66 for the majority is reasonable, although 71 would seem the more accurate figure. What is unacceptable reporting, however, is to say that 356 Labour MPs were returned to Parliament when the fact is that only 355 Labour MPs were elected. What the BBC is doing is distorting the historical record in order to make the figures seem to fit their calculation of the government's majority under particular assumptions. The correct, and professional, way to report the matter is to report the number of people who were really elected for each party, and then say "assuming X and Y the government's majority is Z".

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Last Modified: 22 Oct 12
© Richard Kimber