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United Kingdom general election, 2015

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United Kingdom general election, 2015

2015 United Kingdom general election

7 May 2015[1]

All 650 seats to the House of Commons
326 seats are needed for a majority.
  David Cameron Ed Miliband Nick Clegg
Leader David Cameron Ed Miliband Nick Clegg
Party Conservative Labour Liberal Democrat
Leader since 6 December 2005 25 September 2010 18 December 2007
Leader's seat Witney Doncaster North Sheffield Hallam
Last election 306 seats, 36.1% 258 seats, 29% 57 seats, 23%
Seats needed Increase20 Increase68 Increase269

Incumbent Prime Minister

David Cameron

2001 election MPs
2005 election MPs
2010 election MPs

The next United Kingdom general election will be the election to the 56th Parliament of the United Kingdom, likely to be held in 2015. The terms of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (as amended by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013) mandate dissolution of the present 55th Parliament on 30 March 2015 and that the election will be held on 7 May 2015, unless the House of Commons votes for an earlier date.[2] There are local elections scheduled to take place on the same day across most of England, with the notable exception of London. There are no additional elections scheduled to take place in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, apart from any forthcoming local by-elections.

In the general election, voting will take place in all parliamentary constituencies of the United Kingdom to elect Members of Parliament (MPs) to seats in the House of Commons, the lower house of the Parliament.

This will be the 55th general election for the United Kingdom since 1801 (earlier elections took place for parliaments in Great Britain and Ireland), though the resultant Parliament will be the 56th, as the first Parliament came about after the co-option of members from the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland.

Electoral system and related details

Although the government initially planned the number of parliamentary seats to be reduced from 650 to 600, through the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, the review of constituencies (and reduction in seats) was delayed in 2013 by an amendment to the 2011 Act by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013. The next boundary review is now set to take place in 2018 meaning that the next general election must be contested using the same constituencies and boundaries as in 2010.

In addition, the Act mandated a referendum in 2011 on changing from the current 'first past the post' system system to an Alternative Vote system for elections to the Commons. The Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition agreement committed the coalition government to such a referendum.[3] The referendum was held in May 2011 and resulted in the retention of the existing voting system.

Before the previous general election the Liberal Democrats had pledged to change the voting system, and the Labour Party pledged to have a referendum about any such change.[4] The Conservatives, however, promised to keep the first past the post system, but to reduce the number of constituencies by 10%. Liberal Democrat plans were to reduce the number of MPs to 500 elected using a proportional system.[5][6]

Each parliamentary constituency of the United Kingdom elects one MP to the House of Commons using the 'first past the post' system. If one party were to obtain a majority of seats, then that party would be entitled to form the Government. If the election results in no single party having a majority, then there is a hung parliament. In this case, the options for forming the Government are either a coalition government or a minority government.

If Scotland had voted to leave the United Kingdom in the independence referendum on 18 September 2014, it was expected that a 2015 general election would still have included Scotland, but the status and role of MPs elected in Scotland would have required clarification.[7]

Date of the election

Previous law

An election is called following the dissolution of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The power to dissolve Parliament has been a Royal Prerogative, exercised by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Sovereign has not refused a request for dissolution since the beginning of the 20th century;[8] the guidelines under which this might theoretically occur are known as the Lascelles Principles after the King's private secretary who set them out. As a result, incumbent Prime Ministers have often chosen to call a general election at a time when they believed they enjoyed a temporary tactical advantage.

Under the provisions of the Septennial Act 1715, as amended by the Parliament Act 1911, an election had to be announced on or before the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the previous parliament, barring exceptional circumstances. Since the enactment of the 1715 Act, Parliament has never been allowed to expire. The previous general election, held on 6 May 2010, elected MPs to the 55th Parliament which began on 18 May 2010; thus this Parliament would expire on 17 May 2015. Since the last day that a proclamation summoning a new Parliament could be issued is this day of expiration, the election timetable dictated that the latest possible date for the election was 11 June 2015.[9]

Fixed-term Parliaments Act

Prior to the 2010 general election, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats pledged to introduce fixed-term elections.[4] As part of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition agreement, the Cameron ministry agreed to support legislation for fixed-term Parliaments, with the date of the next general election being 7 May 2015.[10] This would have coincided with general elections for the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly, which were scheduled to be held on a four-year, fixed-term basis. In response to cross-party criticism of this, the Fixed-term Parliaments Act moved the dates of the next elections to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales to 2016 (in sections 4 and 5 of the Act, respectively), whilst the next Northern Ireland Assembly election was moved to 2016 by the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 (which specifies that elections will be held in the fifth (rather than fourth, as previously) calendar year following that in which its predecessor was elected).[11]

The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 removed the Royal Prerogative to dissolve Parliament. As a result, a Prime Minister no longer has the power to advise the monarch to call an early election. The Bill originally only permitted early dissolution if Parliament voted for one by a supermajority of 55%. A government could still lose a vote of no confidence by a majority of over just over 50%, requiring it to resign. Later, the Government amended the Bill to increase the required supermajority to two-thirds, as applies to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. When doing so, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg clarified that Parliament would be dissolved if no new government could be formed within 14 days of a no-confidence vote.[12] The Bill was enacted in this amended form.

The Prime Minister has the power, by order made by Statutory Instrument under section 1(5) of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, to provide that the polling day is to be held up to two months later than 7 May 2015. Such a Statutory Instrument must be approved by each House of Parliament.

Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013

Section 14 of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 amended the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 by extending the period between the dissolution of Parliament and the following general election polling day from 17 to 25 working days. This has had the effect of moving forward the date of the dissolution of the present Parliament to 30 March 2015.[2]


Occasionally, a constituency is forced to delay its polling day. In each of the two preceding general elections, one constituency delayed its poll due to the death of a candidate.[13]

In the run up to the Scottish independence referendum, 2014, SNP MP Angus Robertson suggested that politicians in the remainder of the UK would have had to consider delaying the 2015 election by a year if Scotland had voted for independence on 18 September 2014. Robertson argued that holding an election during the independence negotiations would be a diversion.[14] Ultimately this ceased to be an issue, as Scotland voted against independence.[15]

MPs standing down


  1. James Arbuthnot (North East Hampshire), announced 6 June 2011[16]
  2. Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury), announced 1 September 2014[17]
  3. Gregory Barker (Bexhill and Battle), announced 14 July 2014[18]
  4. Brian Binley (Northampton South), announced 22 July 2013[19]
  5. Aidan Burley (Cannock Chase), announced 5 February 2014[20]
  6. Dan Byles (North Warwickshire), announced 20 July 2014[21]
  7. James Clappison (Hertsmere), announced 3 July 2014[22]
  8. Stephen Dorrell (Charnwood), announced 25 November 2014 [23][24]
  9. Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North), announced 17 January 2013[25]
  10. Lorraine Fullbrook (South Ribble), announced 14 September 2013[26]
  11. William Hague (Richmond (Yorks)), announced 14 July 2014[27]
  12. Charles Hendry (Wealden), announced 1 March 2013[28]
  13. Chris Kelly (Dudley South), announced 31 August 2014[29]
  14. Andrew Lansley (South Cambridgeshire), announced 15 July 2014[30]
  15. Jessica Lee (Erewash), announced 20 January 2014[31]
  16. Sir Peter Luff (Mid Worcestershire), announced 5 September 2012[32]
  17. Brooks Newmark (Braintree), announced 11 October 2014[33]
  18. Sir Richard Ottaway (Croydon South), announced 28 May 2012[34]
  19. Sir Jim Paice (South East Cambridgeshire), announced 8 March 2013 [35]
  20. Sir John Randall (Uxbridge and South Ruislip), announced 10 July 2014 [36]
  21. Andrew Robathan (South Leicestershire), announced 22 September 2014[37]
  22. David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds), announced 28 July 2014[38]
  23. Laura Sandys (South Thanet), announced 25 November 2013[39]
  24. Sir Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills), announced 24 October 2014[40]
  25. Mark Simmonds (Boston and Skegness), announced 11 August 2014[41]
  26. Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge and Malling), announced 23 March 2012[42]
  27. Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle), announced 21 March 2014[43]
  28. Robert Walter (North Dorset), announced 5 December 2014[44]
  29. Mike Weatherley (Hove), announced 3 July 2014[22]
  30. David Willetts (Havant), announced 14 July 2014[45]
  31. Tim Yeo (South Suffolk), announced 3 February 2014[46] (deselected)
  32. Sir North West Hampshire), announced 29 November 2013[47]


  1. Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East), announced 7 December 2012.[48]
  2. Hugh Bayley (York Central), announced 5 December 2014.[49]
  3. Joe Benton (Bootle), announced 12 June 2014.[50]
  4. Hazel Blears (Salford and Eccles), announced 20 February 2014.[51]
  5. David Blunkett (Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough), announced 21 June 2014[52]
  6. Gordon Brown (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) - announced 1 December 2014[53]
  7. Martin Caton (Gower), announced 11 March 2012.[54]
  8. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley), announced 3 February 2014,[55] subsequently announced intention to stand for re-election 19 September 2014[56]
  9. Sir Tony Cunningham (Workington), announced 28 June 2014[57]
  10. Alistair Darling (Edinburgh South West), announced 2 November 2014[58]
  11. John Denham (Southampton Itchen), announced 7 October 2011[59]
  12. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras), announced 18 July 2014[60]
  13. Frank Doran (Aberdeen North), announced 19 October 2013[61]
  14. Hywel Francis (Aberavon), announced 22 November 2013[62]
  15. Peter Hain (Neath), announced 6 June 2014[63]
  16. David Heyes (Ashton-under-Lyne), announced 1 March 2014[64]
  17. Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Kilburn), announced 23 June 2011[65]
  18. Siân James (Swansea East), announced 25 February 2014[66]
  19. Dame Tessa Jowell (Dulwich and West Norwood), announced 21 November 2013[67]
  20. Anne McGuire (Stirling), announced 14 January 2014[68]
  21. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston), announced 10 December 2013[69]
  22. Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby), announced 16 April 2014[70]
  23. Leeds East), announced 4 October 2013[71]
  24. Meg Munn (Sheffield Heeley), announced 25 January 2014[72]
  25. Dame Dawn Primarolo (Bristol South), announced 10 November 2011[73]
  26. Nick Raynsford (Greenwich and Woolwich), announced 22 March 2013[74]
  27. Lindsay Roy (Glenrothes), announced 6 November 2013[75]
  28. Dame Joan Ruddock (Lewisham Deptford), announced 12 January 2013[76]
  29. Jack Straw (Blackburn), announced 25 October 2013 [77]
  30. Gerry Sutcliffe (Bradford South), announced 26 May 2013
  31. Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent North), announced 15 November 2013 [78]
  32. Mike Wood (Batley and Spen), announced 28 February 2014[79]
  33. Shaun Woodward (St Helens South and Whiston), announced 7 November 2013[80]

Liberal Democrats

  1. Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), announced 7 August 2013[81]
  2. Jeremy Browne (Taunton Deane), announced 15 October 2014[82]
  3. Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole), announced 5 March 2013[83]
  4. Sir Malcolm Bruce (Gordon), announced 9 October 2013[84]
  5. Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife), announced 9 October 2013[85]
  6. Don Foster (Bath), announced 8 January 2014 [86]
  7. David Heath (Somerton and Frome), announced 11 October 2013[87]
  8. Sir Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove), announced on 29 September 2013[88]
  9. Ian Swales (Redcar), announced 11 July 2014[89]
  10. Sarah Teather (Brent Central), announced 7 September 2013[90]

Plaid Cymru

  1. Elfyn Llwyd (Dwyfor Meirionnydd), announced 19 October 2013[91]


  1. Eric Joyce (Falkirk), announced 2 March 2012 (elected as Labour)[92]

Political parties

As of 17 September 2010, the Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties includes 392 different political parties registered in Great Britain,[93] and 43 in Northern Ireland.[94] In addition, candidates who do not belong to a registered party can use "independent" or no label at all.

2010 results

The table below shows the figures for seats won by each party at the 2010 election and the seat changes that have taken place before the next election.

Affiliation Members[95]
After 2010 General Election Current
Conservative 306 303
Labour 258 257
Liberal Democrat 57 56
DUP 8 8
SNP 6 6
Sinn Féin 5 5
1 3
Plaid Cymru 3 3
SDLP 3 3
UKIP 0 2
Alliance 1 1
Green 1 1
Respect 0 1
1 1
 Total number of seats
650 650
 Actual government majority
83 75
  • ^1 See here for a full list of changes during the current Parliament.
  • ^2 Lindsay Hoyle (Labour), Eleanor Laing (Conservative) and Dawn Primarolo (Labour) were elected Chairman of Ways and Means, First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means and Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means respectively. Although these Deputy Speakers do not resign from their parties, they cease to vote (except to break ties) and do not participate in party political activity until the next election.
  • ^3 Although Sinn Féin maintains offices at Westminster, the party's policy of abstaining from participation in the House of Commons (on account of disputing the UK Parliament's claim to jurisdiction in Northern Ireland and the requirement for Members to swear an oath to the Queen) precludes its MPs from taking their seats.[96]
  • ^4 John Bercow was re-elected for his Buckingham constituency as Speaker seeking re-election.[97]
  • ^5 Actual government majority includes the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition, and excludes members that do not vote (Sinn Féin, and the Speaker and his Deputies) and vacant seats.

Likely or potential target seats

The Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies was postponed until 2018, under the terms of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013[98][99][100][101] so that the next election will be held without new boundaries being adopted. It will use the same boundaries as the previous election (2010).

In January 2013, Labour published its list of 106 target seats for the next election.[102] UKIP's list of 12 target seats was reported in August 2014,[103] while others external to UKIP have highlighted seats where UKIP may be strongest.[104]

Listed below are some of the top target seats for those parties which won seats at the 2005 or 2010 general elections, ranked by the percentage swing required. These may not be the seats where parties choose to target their resources. Opinion polling in individual constituencies is also another indicator for possible target seats.

Labour targets[105] Swing required Conservative targets[106] Swing required Liberal Democrat targets[107] Swing required
1 North Warwickshire (CON) 0.05% Hampstead and Kilburn (LAB) 0.04% Camborne and Redruth (CON) 0.08%
2 Thurrock (CON) 0.10% Bolton West (LAB) 0.10% Oldham East and Saddleworth[note 1] (LAB) 0.12%
3 Hendon (CON) 0.12% Solihull (LD) 0.16% Oxford West and Abingdon (CON) 0.16%
4 Cardiff North (CON) 0.20% Southampton Itchen (LAB) 0.22% Ashfield (LAB) 0.20%
5 Sherwood (CON) 0.22% Dorset Mid and Poole North (LD) 0.29% Sheffield Central (LAB) 0.20%
6 Norwich South (LD) 0.32% Wirral South (LAB) 0.66% Edinburgh South (LAB) 0.36%
7 Stockton South (CON) 0.33% Derby North (LAB) 0.68% Truro and Falmouth (CON) 0.45%
8 Broxtowe (CON) 0.37% Wells (LD) 0.72% Newton Abbot (CON) 0.55%
9 Lancaster and Fleetwood (CON) 0.39% Dudley North (LAB) 0.84% Chesterfield (LAB) 0.60%
10 Bradford East (LD) 0.45% Great Grimsby (LAB) 1.08% Swansea West (LAB) 0.71%
11 Amber Valley (CON) 0.58% Morley and Outwood (LAB) 1.13% Hull North (LAB) 0.96%
12 Waveney (CON) 0.75% Telford (LAB) 1.19% Rochdale (LAB) 0.97%
13 Wolverhampton South West (CON) 0.85% Walsall North (LAB) 1.37% Harrogate and Knaresborough (CON) 0.98%
14 Morecambe and Lunesdale (CON) 1.00% St. Austell and Newquay (LD) 1.39% Watford (CON) 1.29%
15 Carlisle (CON) 1.01% Somerton and Frome (LD) 1.50% Hampstead and Kilburn (LAB) 1.51%
16 Stroud (CON) 1.12% Birmingham Edgbaston (LAB) 1.54% Montgomeryshire (CON) 1.75%
17 Weaver Vale (CON) 1.13% Sutton and Cheam (LD) 1.66% Edinburgh North and Leith (LAB) 1.82%
18 Lincoln (CON) 1.16% Halifax (LAB) 1.69% St. Albans (CON) 2.19%
19 Brighton Pavilion (Green) 1.21% Newcastle-under-Lyme (LAB) 1.80% Newport East (LAB) 2.39%
20 Plymouth Sutton and Devonport (CON) 1.31% Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (LAB) 1.82% Weston-super-Mare (CON) 2.56%
21 Dewsbury (CON) 1.41% Wakefield (LAB) 1.82% Hereford and Herefordshire South (CON) 2.57%
22 Warrington South (CON) 1.42% St. Ives (LD) 1.87% Devon West & Torridge (CON) 2.68%
23 Brent Central (LD) 1.48% Plymouth Moor View (LAB) 1.91% Winchester (CON) 2.73%
24 Bedford (CON) 1.50% Gedling (LAB) 1.93% Northampton North (CON) 3.09%
25 Brighton Kemptown (CON) 1.56% Eltham (LAB) 1.98% Cornwall South East (CON) 3.25%
26 Pudsey (CON) 1.69% Walsall South (LAB) 2.15% Bristol North West (CON) 3.25%
27 Brentford and Isleworth (CON) 1.82% Nottingham South (LAB) 2.17% City of Durham (LAB) 3.32%
SNP targets Swing required Plaid Cymru targets Swing required
1 Ochil & Perthshire South (LAB) 5.14% Ynys Môn (LAB) 3.55%
Green Party targets Swing required Respect targets Swing required
1 Norwich South (LD) 7.20% Birmingham Hall Green (LAB) 3.9%
Sinn Féin targets Swing required SDLP targets Swing required DUP targets Swing required Alliance targets Swing required
1 Belfast North (DUP) 3.01% Newry and Armagh (SF) 9.3% Belfast East (A) 2.22% Belfast South (SDLP) 15.00%

Television debates

The first series of televised leaders debates in the United Kingdom were held in the previous election. It has been proposed that the debates could start as early as 2014.[108] It has also been suggested that the debates could still take place in 2015 before the election campaign begins over the longer period of January, February and March.[109] Conservative Party leader David Cameron has suggested that the televised debates should take place before the campaign itself, as he felt that the 2010 debates overshadowed the rest of the campaign; he was, however, still positive towards them taking place.[110]

Opinion polling

The chart shows the relative state of the parties from 13 May 2010 to the date the next election is held, with each line's colour corresponding to a political party: blue for the Conservatives, red for Labour, yellow for the Liberal Democrats and purple for the UKIP. While not being shown, other parties such as the Greens have on occasion polled higher than one or more of the parties represented. Each dot represents a party's results in opinion polls, the lines are then created by a 15-day trend line.


  1. ^ As compared to the 2010 general election result, not the 2011 by-election result

See also


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  104. ^
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External links

  • UK Polling Report Voting Intentions

Boundary Commissions

  • Boundary Commission for England
  • Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland
  • Boundary Commission for Scotland
  • Boundary Commission for Wales ((in Welsh))
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