7 highest number of votes won in British elections since 1945

John Major

In UK elections, it’s the number of seats that matter – not votes – but here are the top 7 number of votes received by parties at UK elections since 1945.

7thConservatives in 2017

Theresa May PM May's plan to rip up human rights law

The most recent election just makes it on to this list. In June 2017, Theresa May lost her party its majority, but she significantly boosted its vote-share and number of votes cast, taking its total to 13.6 million votes.

6th – Conservatives in 1979

After a few years in opposition, the Conservative Party won a significant victory this year. Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s prime minister, winning just shy of 13.7 million votes.

5th – Conservatives in 1951

After winning a slim majority in 1950, Labour’s Clement Attlee called for another general election in 1951. In the new election, the Conservatives won a slim majority with just over 13.7 million votes.

4th – Conservatives in 1959

Sir Anthony EdenAfter replacing Anthony Eden, Harold MacMillan went on to win a stunning political victory in 1959 with 13.75 million votes.

3rd – Conservatives in 1987

Maggie In Hard Hat

In Margaret Thatcher’s second appearance on this list, she won a spectacular victory in 1987 with 13.76 million votes. Three years later she resigned as prime minister, paving the way for John Major to take over.

2 – Labour in 1951

Harry Truman, Clement Attlee and Mackenzie King boarding the USCG Sequoia to discuss the atomic bomb, November 1945

Labour appear on this list once – and even then, they share their spot with the Conservatives. As stated earlier, the Conservatives won 13.7 million votes in 1951, giving them a place on this list, however, Labour won more votes despite Churchill’s Conservatives getting a majority. Attlee’s Labour won a significant 13.9 million votes, Labour’s highest ever, but lost out on becoming the governing party.

Even in 2017, when the party’s vote-share increased by almost 10%, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour only managed 12.9 million votes.

1st – Conservatives in 1992

John Major may have only won a modest Conservative majority in 1992, which was subsequently whittled away by by-elections and defections, but his party received a staggering 14,093,007 votes, with a vote-share of 41.9%.

It was a stunning victory for Major, partly thanks to the pre-election narrative that a hung parliament was the most likely option.

Can the next election make it in to the top seven when it comes? Tell us what you think!


The figures in this list are based off those in the Wikipedia election pages, which can be found here.