Next United Kingdom general election

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United Kingdom general election, 2015
United Kingdom
2010 ←
7 May 2015[1]

All 650 seats to the House of Commons
326 seats needed for a majority.
 David CameronEd MilibandNick Clegg
LeaderDavid CameronEd MilibandNick Clegg
PartyConservativeLabourLiberal Democrat
Leader since6 December 200525 September 201018 December 2007
Leader's seatWitneyDoncaster NorthSheffield Hallam
Last election306 seats, 36.1%258 seats, 29%57 seats, 23%
Seats neededIncrease20Increase68Increase269

Incumbent Prime Minister

David Cameron

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United Kingdom general election, 2015
United Kingdom
2010 ←
7 May 2015[1]

All 650 seats to the House of Commons
326 seats needed for a majority.
 David CameronEd MilibandNick Clegg
LeaderDavid CameronEd MilibandNick Clegg
PartyConservativeLabourLiberal Democrat
Leader since6 December 200525 September 201018 December 2007
Leader's seatWitneyDoncaster NorthSheffield Hallam
Last election306 seats, 36.1%258 seats, 29%57 seats, 23%
Seats neededIncrease20Increase68Increase269

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. The terms of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 mandate that the election will be held on 7 May 2015 (except in the event of a collapse of government or a two-thirds majority of MPs voting for an early election).[1]

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[edit]

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 provided for the reduction of the number of seats in the Commons from the current 650 to 600. It also instructed the boundary commissions to undertake the Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies before 2014, which would have involved a notable redistribution of seats between the four parts of the UK and the near-equalisation of constituency sizes by registered electorate. In accordance with this, the boundary commissions began a full revision of constituency boundaries with an instruction to reduce the number of constituencies to 600 and to recommend constituencies which are no more than 5% above or below the standard size. However, in August 2012, Liberal Democrats Party Leader Nick Clegg announced that his party would oppose the implementation of the new constituency boundaries as a reaction to the failure of the government to enact House of Lords reform.[2] In January 2013, the Government lost a vote on this timetable, which effectively ended the entire process.[3] The boundary commissions were required to produce their reports by 1 October 2013 but they announced the cancellation of the reviews on 31 January 2013.[4][5][6][7] 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 the 2010 election.

In addition, the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act mandated a referendum in 2011 on changing from current first-past-the-post system to the Alternative Vote system for elections to the Commons. The Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement committed the coalition government to such a referendum.[8] The referendum was held in May 2011 and resulted in the retention of the existing First Past The Post 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.[9] The Conservatives, however, promised to keep the first past the post, but to cut the number of constituencies by 10%. Liberal Democrat plans were to reduce the number of MPs to 500 elected using a proportional system.[10][11]

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 votes to leave the United Kingdom in the independence referendum on 18 September 2014, it is expected that a 2015 General Election would still take place in Scotland, but the status and role of MPs elected in Scotland would be unclear.[12] There are 59 Scottish MPs, so if the election does not take place in Scotland, or if the Scottish MPs do not take their seats, the number of seats will effectively be reduced from 650 to 591.

Date of the election[edit]

Previous law[edit]

An election was usually called following the dissolution of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The power to dissolve Parliament was a Royal Prerogative, exercised by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Sovereign had not refused a request for dissolution since the beginning of the 20th century;[citation needed] 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 often chose 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; as such, Parliament would expire at the end of 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.[13]

A constituency may occasionally be 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.[14]

Fixed-term Parliaments Act[edit]

Prior to the 2010 general election, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats pledged to introduce fixed-term elections.[9] 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.[15] This would have coincided with elections for the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and Northern Ireland Assembly, which are held on a four-year, fixed-term basis. In response to cross-party criticism of this, Nick Clegg offered each devolved body the right to vary their length of tenure by a year in either direction. Therefore, the next elections to the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales will take place in 2016.

The act removed the Royal Prerogative to dissolve Parliament. As a result of this, 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 and be replaced on a normal majority of over 50%. Later, the Government amended the bill to increase the proposed supermajority to two-thirds, as is used by the Scottish Parliament and 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.[16] The bill passed Parliament in this amended form.


SNP MP Angus Robertson has suggested that politicians in the remainder of the UK should consider delaying the 2015 election by a year if Scotland votes for independence on 18 September 2014, because holding an election during the independence negotiations would be a diversion.[17]

MPs standing down[edit]


  1. James Arbuthnot (North East Hampshire), announced 6 June 2011[18]
  2. Brian Binley (Northampton South), announced 22 July 2013[19]
  3. Jonathan Evans (Cardiff North), announced 17 January 2013 [20]
  4. Lorraine Fullbrook (South Ribble), announced 14 September 2013 [21]
  5. Charles Hendry (Wealden), announced 1 March 2013[22]
  6. Sir Peter Luff (Mid Worcestershire), announced 5 September 2012[23]
  7. Sir Richard Ottaway (Croydon South), announced 28 May 2012[24]
  8. Sir Jim Paice (South East Cambridgeshire), announced 8 March 2013 [25]
  9. Laura Sandys (South Thanet) - announced 25 November 2013[26]
  10. Sir John Stanley (Tonbridge and Malling), announced 23 March 2012[27]
  11. Sir George Young (North West Hampshire) - announced 29 November 2013[28]


  1. Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East), announced 7 December 2012.[29]
  2. Martin Caton (Gower), announced 11 March 2012.[30]
  3. John Denham (Southampton Itchen), announced 7 October 2011[31]
  4. Frank Doran (Aberdeen North), announced 19 October 2013[32]
  5. Hywel Francis (Aberavon) - announced 22 November 2013[33]
  6. Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Kilburn), announced 23 June 2011[34]
  7. Dame Tessa Jowell (Dulwich and West Norwood), announced 21 November 2013[35]
  8. Anne McGuire (Stirling, announced 14 January 2014[36]
  9. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston), announced 10 December 2013[37]
  10. George Mudie (Leeds East), announced 4 October 2013[38]
  11. Dawn Primarolo (Bristol South), announced 10 November 2011[39]
  12. Nick Raynsford (Greenwich and Woolwich), announced 22 March 2013[40]
  13. Lindsay Roy (Glenrothes), announced 6 November 2013[41]
  14. Dame Joan Ruddock (Lewisham Deptford), announced 12 January 2013[42]
  15. Jack Straw (Blackburn), announced 25 October 2013 [43]
  16. Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent North), announced 15 November 2013 [44]
  17. Shaun Woodward (St Helens South and Whiston), announced 7 November 2013[45]

Liberal Democrats[edit]

  1. Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed), announced 7 August 2013[46]
  2. Annette Brooke (Mid Dorset and North Poole), announced 5 March 2013[47]
  3. Sir Malcolm Bruce (Gordon), announced 9 October 2013[48]
  4. Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife), announced 9 October 2013[49]
  5. Don Foster (Bath), announced 8 January 2014 [50]
  6. David Heath (Somerton and Frome), announced 11 October 2013[51]
  7. Sir Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove), announced on 29 September 2013[52]
  8. Sarah Teather (Brent Central), announced 7 September 2013[53]

Plaid Cymru[edit]

  1. Elfyn Llwyd (Dwyfor Meirionnydd), announced 19 October 2013[54]


  1. Eric Joyce (Falkirk), announced 2 March 2012 (elected as Labour)[55]
  2. Patrick Mercer (Newark), announced 31 May 2013, (elected as Conservative)[56][57]

Political parties[edit]

As of 17 September 2010 (2010-09-17), the Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties includes 392 different political parties registered in Great Britain,[58] and 43 in Northern Ireland.[59] In addition, candidates who do not belong to a registered party can use "independent" or no label at all.

Possible target seats[edit]

The Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies has been effectively postponed until 2018,[4][5][6][7] which means the next election will be held without new boundaries being agreed. 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.[60]

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.

Labour targets[61]Swing requiredConservative targets[62]Swing requiredLiberal Democrat targets[63]Swing required
1North Warwickshire (CON)0.05%Hampstead and Kilburn (LAB)0.04%Camborne and Redruth (CON)0.08%
2Thurrock (CON)0.10%Bolton West (LAB)0.10%Oldham East and Saddleworth[note 1] (LAB)0.12%
3Hendon (CON)0.12%Solihull (LD)0.16%Oxford West and Abingdon (CON)0.16%
4Cardiff North (CON)0.20%Southampton Itchen (LAB)0.22%Ashfield (LAB)0.20%
5Sherwood (CON)0.22%Dorset Mid and Poole North (LD)0.29%Sheffield Central (LAB)0.20%
6Norwich South (LD)0.32%Wirral South (LAB)0.66%Edinburgh South (LAB)0.36%
7Stockton South (CON)0.33%Derby North (LAB)0.68%Truro and Falmouth (CON)0.45%
8Broxtowe (CON)0.37%Wells (LD)0.72%Newton Abbot (CON)0.55%
9Lancaster and Fleetwood (CON)0.39%Dudley North (LAB)0.84%Chesterfield (LAB)0.60%
10Bradford East (LD)0.45%Great Grimsby (LAB)1.08%Swansea West (LAB)0.71%
11Amber Valley (CON)0.58%Morley and Outwood (LAB)1.13%Hull North (LAB)0.96%
12Waveney (CON)0.75%Telford (LAB)1.19%Rochdale (LAB)0.97%
13Wolverhampton South West (CON)0.85%Walsall North (LAB)1.37%Harrogate and Knaresborough (CON)0.98%
14Morecambe and Lunsdale (CON)1.00%St. Austell and Newquay (LD)1.39%Watford (CON)1.29%
15Carlisle (CON)1.01%Somerton and Frome (LD)1.50%Hampstead and Kilburn (LAB)1.51%
16Stroud (CON)1.12%Birmingham Edgbaston (LAB)1.54%Montgomeryshire (CON)1.75%
17Weaver Vale (CON)1.13%Sutton and Cheam (LD)1.66%Edinburgh North and Leith (LAB)1.82%
18Lincoln (CON)1.16%Halifax (LAB)1.69%St. Albans (CON)2.19%
19Brighton Pavilion (Green)1.21%Newcastle-under-Lyme (LAB)1.80%Newport East (LAB)2.39%
20Plymouth Sutton and Devonport (CON)1.31%Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (LAB)1.82%Weston-super-Mare (CON)2.56%
21Dewsbury (CON)1.41%Wakefield (LAB)1.82%Hereford and Herefordshire South (CON)2.57%
22Warrington South (CON)1.42%St. Ives (LD)1.87%Devon West & Torridge (CON)2.68%
23Brent Central (LD)1.48%Plymouth Moor View (LAB)1.91%Winchester (CON)2.73%
24Bedford (CON)1.50%Gedling (LAB)1.93%Northampton North (CON)3.09%
25Brighton Kemptown (CON)1.56%Eltham (LAB)1.98%Cornwall South East (CON)3.25%
26Pudsey (CON)1.69%Walsall South (LAB)2.15%Bristol North West (CON)3.25%
27Brentford and Isleworth (CON)1.82%Nottingham South (LAB)2.17%City of Durham (LAB)3.32%
SNP targetsSwing requiredPlaid Cymru targetsSwing required
1Ochil & Perthshire South (LAB)5.14%Ynys Môn (LAB)3.55%
Green Party targetsSwing requiredRespect targetsSwing required
1Norwich South (LD)7.20%Birmingham Hall Green (LAB)3.9%
UUP targetsSwing requiredSinn Féin targetsSwing requiredSDLP targetsSwing requiredDUP targetsSwing requiredAlliance targetsSwing required
1South Antrim (DUP)1.74%Belfast North (DUP)3.01%Newry and Armagh (SF)9.3%Belfast East (A)2.22%Belfast South (SDLP)15.00%

Television debates[edit]

The first series of televised leaders debates in the United Kingdom were held in the previous election. Comments from senior politicians such as Prime Minister David Cameron have made it clear that they intend to hold another series of televised debates in the run up to the 2015 election, although they will likely take on a different format, as Cameron felt that they dominated the campaign. It has been proposed that the debates could start as early as 2014, presumably after the parliamentary summer recess as not to have an impact on the elections to the European Parliament.[64] 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.[65]

There is media speculation from individuals such as Michael Crick of Channel 4 News as to who may be included in the debates. He suggested that if UKIP's political fortunes were to continue to improve, and they do not receive sufficient coverage, they could make a legal case against broadcasters that under-represent the party, if the leaders of the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats are included.[65][66][67] Prime Minister David Cameron has dismissed the call for UKIP's participation.[68] The Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband said in January 2013 that the composition of each debate was a matter for the media organisations.[69]

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.[70]

Opinion polling[edit]

UK opinion polling 2010-2015.png

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. Each dot represents a party's results in opinion polls, the lines are then created by an eight-data-point moving average.


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Peers end deadlock over fixed term parliaments". BBC News Online. 14 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Jowit, Juliette (6 August 2012). "Nick Clegg blocks boundary changes after Lords reform retreat". The Guardian. 
  3. ^ "MPs vote on boundary changes: Politics live blog". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Closure of 2013 review". Boundary Commission for England. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Sixth Periodic Review - Index". Bcomm-Scotland. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "The Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland". The Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Statement Regarding the 2013 Review of Parliamentary Constituencies". Boundary Commission for Wales. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  8. ^ "Full text: Conservative-LibDem deal". BBC News. 2010-05-12. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  9. ^ a b "Where They Stand: Guide to party election policies". BBC News. 26 March 2010. 
  10. ^ "How Strong is the Case for Reducing the Number of MPs?" (PDF). Democratic Audit. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "Q&A - Boundary Changes". BBC News. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Why the Scottish referendum date matters". The Guardian. 2008-07-16. Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  13. ^ "Research Paper 07/31: Election Timetables". House of Commons Library. 
  14. ^ "Thirsk and Malton candidate death delays poll date". BBC News. 22 April 2010. 
  15. ^ "Full text of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition deal". The Guardian (London). 12 May 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  16. ^ "House of Commons Debate 5 July 2010 c 23". 5 July 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  17. ^ [1]
  18. ^ "Tory MP James Arbuthnot to step down for 'new challenge'". BBC News Online. 6 June 2011. 
  19. ^ "Northampton MP Brian Binley to stand down". Northampton Chronicle and Echo. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  20. ^ "Cardiff North Conservative MP Jonathan Evans to step down". BBC News Online. 17 January 2013. 
  21. ^ "LORRAINE FULLBROOK WILL STAND DOWN IN MAY 2015". south ribble conservatives. Retrieved 14 September 2013. 
  22. ^ Hendry, Charles (1 March 2013). "Letter from Charles Hendry MP". Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  23. ^ "Ex-minister Peter Luff to leave Parliament at next election". BBC News Online. 5 September 2012. 
  24. ^ "Conservative MP Richard Ottaway to step down at election". BBC News Online. 27 October 2012. 
  25. ^ "Cambridgeshire MP Sir Jim Paice 'will not stand again'". BBC News Online. 8 March 2013. 
  26. ^ Laura Sandys MP to stand down in 2015 Laura Sandys Personal Web Site
  27. ^ "Sir John Stanley MP announces his retirement". ConservativeHome. 24 March 2012. 
  28. ^ Sir George Young To Step Down in 2015 AndoverTimes
  29. ^ "Bob Ainsworth to step down as Coventry North East MP". BBC News (BBC). 7 December 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  30. ^ "Gower MP Martin Caton is ready to stand down". This Is South Wales. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  31. ^ "Denham to stand down as MP". Southern Daily Echo. 7 October 2011. 
  32. ^ Aberdeen MP Doran to stand down Herald Scotland
  33. ^ Hywel Francis AS Aberafan yn sefyll i lawr yn 2015 BBC Newyddion
  34. ^ Graham, Georgia (23 June 2011). "Glenda Jackson won’t stand in next election". Ham & High. 
  35. ^ "Labor's Tessa Jowell to stand down as MP". BBC News (BBC). 21 November 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2013. 
  36. ^ Torcuil Crichton Twitter feed [retweeted by Anne McGuire Twitter
  37. ^ BBC News: Andrew Miller to stand down as MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston in 2015 (accessed 10 December 2013)
  38. ^ "Leeds MP to step down". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  39. ^ "Bristol South MP Dawn Primarolo to stand down". BBC News online. 11 November 2011. 
  40. ^ "Labour MP Nick Raynsford to stand down at next election". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  41. ^ "MP Roy to quit Westminster". Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  42. ^ Chandler, Mark. "Lewisham Deptford MP Joan Ruddock to stand down at next election". News Shopper. Retrieved 12/01/1203. 
  43. ^ "BBC News - Jack Straw to step down as Labour MP for Blackburn". Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  44. ^ . Retrieved 2013-11-16.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  45. ^ BREAKING NEWS: Shaun Woodward to stand down as MP St Helens Reporter
  46. ^ "Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith stands down". The Journal. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  47. ^ Brook, Annette. "March 2013 - Reporting Back". Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  48. ^ "MP Sir Malcolm to quit ‘while I still enjoy job’". Press & Journal. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  49. ^ "Sir Menzies Campbell to stand down as MP in 2015". BBC. 9 October 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  50. ^ Don Foster MP to stand down Liberal Democrat Voice
  51. ^ "David Heath MP to step down at general election". BBC News. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  52. ^ "Hazel Grove MP Andrew Stunell to step down at next general election"". Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  53. ^ "Sarah Teather to stand down as Lib Dem MP at 2015 election". BBC. 8 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  54. ^ Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Elfyn Llwyd to step down BBC News
  55. ^ Musson, Chris; Crichton, Torcuil; Lyons, James (2 March 2012). "Shamed MP Eric Joyce admits affair with schoolgirl but won't quit Parliament until next election". Daily Record. 
  56. ^ "Patrick Mercer MP resigns over lobbying scandal". Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  57. ^ "Tory MP Patrick Mercer resigns the whip". new statesman. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  58. ^ "Party Finance - the Electoral Commission". Electoral Commission. 16 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010. 
  59. ^ "Register of political parties (Northern Ireland)". Electoral Commission. 16 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  60. ^ "List of Labour's 106 target seats for 2015". Retrieved 2013-05-03. 
  61. ^ "Labour TARGET SEATS". Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  62. ^ "CONSERVATIVE TARGET SEATS". Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  63. ^ "LIBERAL DEMOCRAT TARGET SEATS". Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  64. ^ "TV debates could take place a year before election day". Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  65. ^ a b "Will There Be Election Debates In 2015, And Who Will Fight Them?". Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  66. ^ "After Rotherham, Ukip aims to top the 2014 Euro poll". Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  67. ^ "Can UKIP become a serious political party?". Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  68. ^ "David Cameron: Don’t put Ukip in general election TV debate". Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  69. ^ "Ukip could get a place in TV election debates". Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  70. ^ "Cameron: 'I Want Televised Leaders Debates'". Sky News. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 

External links[edit]

Boundary Commissions[edit]