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Election Battles 1945-1997
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1974
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1974
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1974 February: On balance, Wilson wins
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1974 February
Wilson, back in control

Watch and listen 1974 Feb
The highlights of election night from BBC Radio 1
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The miners' strike: Political leaders call for a settlement
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Lancashire textile workers and the 3-day week
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Heath "needed the miners' strike says Wilson
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Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe after negotiations with Heath
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Harold Wilson on the inconclusive results
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Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath’s decision to call a snap election in February 1974 backfired.

His plea to the electors to "return a strong government with a firm mandate" was ignored as Britain was faced with its first hung parliament since 1929.

Although Labour won fewer votes than the Conservatives, the party took four more seats, 301 against 297. After four days of indecision that saw Heath unable to convince the Liberals to lend him their support he had no choice but to resign.

Labour leader Harold Wilson was back in Downing Street for the third time, but now he would have to deal with the fresh challenge of heading a minority administration which could fall at any time.