There is growing myth that 1924 was the last time in UK politics that the largest party after a General Election did not form the next government. In 1924 we had the first ever Labour Prime Minister in history, Ramsay Macdonald, who led a UK government despite having just 191 MP’s to the Conservatives’ 258. If I am correct then the statement that SLAB (Scottish Labour Accountancy Branch) have been peddling, that this was the last time the largest party did not form the UK Govt is factually wrong.
The same thing happened in 1951 when the Tories took power. It’s not apparently obvious though, if you look at Wikipedia to see who won.
Clearly from the above graphic the Conservative party won. Wrong! This table attributes seats won in Scotland by the Unionist Party (Scotland) to the Conservative Party of England and Wales. The Scottish Tories were a separate entity up until 1965.
In the 1951 General Election the Scottish Tories won 35 out of the 72 seats in Scotland at that time.
Some simple arithmetic then:
302 – 35 seats = 267 seats
This is compared to the 295 seats that Labour had.
Thus Labour were the biggest party, as they had 28 more seats the Conservative Party of England and Wales.
So the only reason the Tories formed Govt in 1951 is because they could form a working majority, even though they were not the largest single party. A repetition of what happened in 1924, but this time it was the Tories who capitalised on being able to form a working majority.
I am open to correction on this one, but it looks clear cut to me.
Something else that should be mentioned is that Ulster Unionist MP’s were added to the overall majority shown in the results for the Conservatives. I’ve been unable to see how many seats they took, but this reduces further the actual seats that the Conservative Party of England and Wales took, further reinforcing the point that in 1951 it was NOT the largest party that formed Govt.
PS: I can’t take all the credit for this, as I acted upon information I saw in the comments section of Wings to look into this.