9 biggest upward election swings since 1945

First General Assembly Clement Attlee Speech

The recent election makes the list for the most impressive vote share increases both in favour of Labour and the Conservatives, but which other elections make the list?

9th - Conservatives in 2010 and Lib Dems in 2005

After thirteen years of Labour government David Cameron entered Downing Street with the help of the Liberal Democrats. His party could not form a government on their own but the party increased its share of the vote by 3.7 percentage points.

The Liberal Democrats also increased their vote share by 3.7 percentage points from 2001 to 2005.

8th – Labour in 1964

James Callagahan With Harold Wilson and Senior Labour Politicians 1975

The 1964 election marked the end of Conservative rule. Harold Wilson came to power with a small majority this year and on a swing of 3.9% in his favour.

7th – Conservatives in 2017

Theresa May’s election gamble did not pay of, but she increased her party’s vote share significantly. The 2017 election saw the Conservative get 42.3% of the vote, with a 5.5% swing in their favour as the UKIP vote collapsed.

6th – Conservatives in 1951

The 1951 election is notable for the return to power of Winston Churchill. At the election, his Conservatives won less votes, but more seats than Labour, and an increased their vote share by 5.6 percentage points.

5th – Conservatives in 1979

Maggie In Hard Hat

This is where we start getting into the very big numbers. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher led her party to victory on an 8.1% swing in their favour. Labour prime minister James Callaghan was defeated.

4th – Labour in 1997

This election is significant for Labour making the top spot on the list of the seven biggest landslides since 1945. Despite this impressive feat, Labour misses out on a spot in the top three when it comes to election swings. At this election, Labour’s share of the vote increased by 8.8 percentage points.

3rd – UKIP in 2015

Cameron won a majority in 2015, but UKIP’s massive jump in vote-share was a significant story of the election. The party increased its vote share by 9.5 percentage points, an impressive feat for such a small party. But despite this impressive bounce, UKIP only won one seat at the election, and their vote share fell dramatically just two years later.

2nd – Labour in 2017

Jeremy Corbyn #juniordoctorsstrike

This massive swing in Labour’s favour did not win them the election, but it damaged Theresa May’s Conservatives and saw the party gain seats rather than lose them as many expected they would. In a dramatic night, Labour’s vote share under Jeremy Corbyn increased by 9.6 percentage points.

1st – Labour in 1945

After ten years without an election, Attlee’s Labour stormed to victory with a commanding majority. The party went on to create the NHS and introduce other radical social changes, and it was all possible because the party increased its vote share by 11.7%.

However, this election took place ten years after the previous one due to the outbreak of World War Two which is worth noting when making direct comparisons between this and other elections.


Figures used in this article are based of figures from the UK general election Wikipedia pages, which can be accessed here.