7 slimmest majorities since 1945

Edward Heath

Thatcher and Blair dominated the list of largest majorities since the end of the war, but which elections resulted in the smallest majority governments?

7th – 1970 (30 seats)

In the second instalment of Edward Heath versus Harold Wilson, Health won his only battle, winning a small majority of 30 seats. The government lasted four years until February of 1974 when Wilson returned to power with a minority government.

6th - 1992 (21 seats)

Political commentary in the run up to the 1992 election expected a hung parliament, and the exit poll on the night even said that a hung parliament would likely be the case. In the end, the John Major's Conservatives won a small majority, which was whittled away over the next five years.

5th – 1951 (17 seats)

After six years in opposition, Winston Churchill and his Conservative party stormed to victory winning a slim majority of just seventeen seats. This election marked the return of Conservative government, which lasted right up until Labour’s victory in 1964.

4th – 2015 (12 seats)

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron with his mother Mary Cameron in the royal boxBritain's Prime Minister David Cameron with his mother Mary Cameron in the royal box

Like the 1992 election, it was expected that the 2015 election result would be a hung parliament. The exit poll even said this would be the case, putting the Conservatives within inches of a majority. As the night went on, the Conservatives managed to cross the finish-line, ending up with a slim working majority of just twelve seats.

Two years later, Theresa May’s snap election caused her party to lose that majority.

3rd – 1950 (5 seats)

The 1945 election led to one of the biggest post-war majorities, allowing Atlee’s Labour to push through a transformative agenda. Nonetheless, five years later his party’s majority was greatly reduced to just five seats, and one year after that another election led to Churchill’s peace-time premiership.

2nd – 1964 (4 seats)

The 1964 election saw the defeat of Conservative Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Labour returned to power after thirteen years in opposition, however, they only got a small majority of four seats, a result which led the country to return to the polls just two years later.

1st – 1974 October (3 seats)

The first election of 1974 resulted in a hung parliament. Harold Wilson led a minority government which ticked along until the second election of the year, following which Wilson took Labour from ruling-minority to ruling-majority. But even though Labour won a majority of seats, the working majority of three meant that the 1974 October election resulted in the smallest election majority post-1945, a record it holds to this day.

Could history repeat itself with another election later this year?

Majorities as a result of coalitions or other deals and pacts are excluded from this list. All figures are based-off the data available on this Wikipedia page here.

Have something to tell us about this article?