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BBC News Vote 2001 Vote2001 | Audio Video 
Election Battles 1945-1997
Intro 1945
1950
1951 1955 1959 1964 1966 1970 1974
Feb
1974
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1979 1983 1987 1992 1997
1950: Labour limps home
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Overview
Battlefield
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Personalities
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Results
1950: graph

Watch and listen 1950
The election results in a special announcement from the BBC Home Service
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The BBC visits the three main parties at campaign headquarters
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The BBC reports on the highs and lows of election night
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Winston Churchill at his constituency count
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Clement Attlee’s speech after his re-election
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Party vote share
Into the Commons
Edward Heath
Enoch Powell
Reginald Maudling
Iain Macleod
Tony Benn

Labour must have been hard pressed to come to terms with the results in 1950. The party received the largest number of votes recorded in its 50-year history - but saw a massive majority reduced to single figures.

It is estimated that the change in constituency boundaries alone could have cost the party between 20 to 30 seats, while the Conservatives may have gained around 10 from the introduction of the postal vote.

Both parties saw their total number of votes go up - Labour by nearly two million - the Conservatives by nearly three, as voter turnout reached an historic high of 84%.

But unfortunately for Labour its increased support was won in existing strongholds, while the Conservatives’ extra support was spread more evenly - netting them more seats.

Liberal fortunes continued to slump with the first-past-the-post system ensuring that their country-wide support was not converted into seats. To Liberal gall it took 300,000 votes to secure one MP, while Labour and the Conservatives averaged 60,000 votes cast per MP elected.

The swing of 3.3% from Labour to Conservative was not sufficient to oust Attlee from Downing Street, but it was enough to ensure that Labour would have to go back to the country soon to win a more convincing mandate.

A re-match was only a matter of time.