1987 United Kingdom General Election

Election for members of the British House of Commons
United Kingdom general election, 1987
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June 11, 1987
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1987 United Kingdom general election
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The 1987 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday, 11 June 1987, to elect 650 members to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. The election was the third consecutive general election victory for the Conservative Party, and second landslide under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher, who became the first Prime Minister since the Earl of Liverpool in 1820 to lead a party into three successive electoral victories. The Conservatives ran a campaign focusing on lower taxes, a strong economy and strong defence. They also emphasised that unemployment had fallen below the 3 million mark for the first time since 1981, and inflation was standing at 4%, its lowest level for some twenty years. The tabloid media also had strong support for the Conservative Party, particularly The Sun, which ran anti-Labour articles with headlines such as "Why I'm backing Kinnock, by Stalin". The Labour Party, led by Neil Kinnock, was slowly moving towards a more centrist policy platform. The main aim of the Labour Party was simply to re-establish itself as the main progressive centre-left alternative to the Conservatives, after the rise of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) forced Labour onto the defensive. Indeed, the Labour Party succeeded in doing so at this general election. The Alliance between the SDP and the Liberal Party was renewed but co-leaders David Owen and David Steel could not agree whether to support either major party in the event of a hung parliament. The Conservatives were returned to government, having suffered a net loss of only 21 seats, leaving them with 376 MPs and a second landslide majority of 102. Labour succeeded in resisting the challenge by the SDP–Liberal Alliance to become the main opposition. Moreover, Labour managed to increase its vote share in Scotland, Wales and the North of England. Yet Labour still returned only 229 MPs to Westminster, and in certain London constituencies which Labour had held before the election, the Conservatives actually made gains. The election was a disappointment for the Alliance, who saw its vote share fall and suffered a net loss of one seat as well as former SDP leader Roy Jenkins losing his seat. This led to the two parties eventually merging completely to become the Liberal Democrats. In Northern Ireland, the main unionist parties maintained their alliance in opposition to the Anglo-Irish Agreement, however the Ulster Unionists lost two seats to the Social Democratic and Labour Party. The 1987 election was the last in which the Conservatives won the popular vote in a general election by more than 10 points until the 2019 election, and the last time they would hold more than 336 seats in the House of Commons until the 58th Parliament following the 2019 election. The 49th Parliament is the last time a Conservative government has lasted a full term with an overall majority of seats in Parliament. The election night was covered live on the BBC and presented by David Dimbleby, Peter Snow and Sir Robin Day. It was also broadcast on ITV and presented by Sir Alastair Burnet, Peter Sissons and Alastair Stewart. The 1987 general election saw the election of the first Afro-Caribbean members of Parliament: Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Bernie Grant. MPs leaving Parliament as a result of this election included former Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan, Keith Joseph, James Prior, Ian Mikardo, Roy Jenkins, former Health Minister Enoch Powell and Clement Freud.
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