1929 United Kingdom general election

The 1929 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 30 May and resulted in a hung parliament. It stands as the fifth of seven instances under the secret ballot, and the first of three under universal suffrage, in which a party has lost on the popular vote but won the highest number (known as "a plurality") of seats versus all other parties — others are 1852, 1874, January 1910, December 1910, 1951 and February 1974. In 1929 the party was Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Party, which won the most seats in the House of Commons for the first time. The Liberal Party re-led by ex-Prime Minister David Lloyd George regained some ground lost in the 1924 election and held the balance of power.

1929 United Kingdom general election

30 May 1929

All 615 seats in the House of Commons
308 seats needed for a majority
Turnout76.3%, 0.7%
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Ramsay MacDonald Stanley Baldwin David Lloyd George
Party Labour Conservative Liberal
Leader since 21 November 1922 23 May 1923 14 October 1926
Leader's seat Seaham Bewdley Caernarvon Boroughs
Last election 151 seats, 33.3% 412 seats, 46.8% 40 seats, 17.8%
Seats won 287 260 59
Seat change 136 152 19
Popular vote 8,048,968 8,252,527 5,104,638
Percentage 37.1% 38.1% 23.6%
Swing 3.8% 8.7% 5.8%

Colours denote the winning party—as shown in § Results

Prime Minister before election

Stanley Baldwin

Appointed Prime Minister

Ramsay MacDonald

The election was often referred to as the "Flapper Election", because it was the first in which women aged 21–29 had the right to vote (due to the Representation of the People Act 1928). (Women over 30 had been able to vote since the 1918 election.)

The election was fought against a background of rising unemployment, with the memory of the 1926 general strike still fresh in voters' minds. By 1929, the Cabinet was being described by many as "old and exhausted".[1]

The Liberals campaigned on a comprehensive programme of public works under the title "We Can Conquer Unemployment". The incumbent Conservatives campaigned on the theme of "Safety First", with Labour campaigning on the theme of "Labour & the Nation".

This was the first general election to be contested by the newly formed Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru.

It stood as the last time when a "third party" non-Labour or Conservative polled more than one-fifth of the popular vote until 1983, the next election thus ushering in five decades in which two-party politics dominated.


287 260 59 8
Labour Conservative Lib O
UK General Election 1929
Candidates Votes
Party Leader Stood Elected Gained Unseated Net % of total % No. Net %
  Conservative Stanley Baldwin 590 260 2 154 152 42.3 38.1 8,252,527 8.7
  Labour Ramsay MacDonald 569 287 140 4 +136 46.7 37.1 8,048,968 +3.8
  Liberal David Lloyd George 513 59 36 17 +19 9.6 23.6 5,104,638 +5.8
  Independent N/A 11 4 3 1 +2 0.8 0.4 94,742 +0.2
  Communist Harry Pollitt 25 0 0 1 1 0.2 47,554 0.1
  Ind. Conservative N/A 8 0 0 0 0 0.2 46,278
  Scottish Prohibition Edwin Scrymgeour 1 1 0 0 0 0.2 0.1 25,037 +0.1
  Nationalist Joseph Devlin 4 3 2 0 +2 0.5 0.1 24,177 +0.1
  Independent Labour N/A 4 1 1 0 +1 0.2 0.1 20,825 +0.1
  Independent Liberal N/A 2 0 0 0 0 0.1 17,110 +0.1
  National (Scotland) Roland Muirhead 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 3,313 N/A
  Plaid Cymru Saunders Lewis 1 0 0 0 0 0.0 609 N/A

Votes summary

Popular vote

Seats summary

Parliamentary seats

Constituency results

Transfers of seats

  • All comparisons are with the 1924 election.
    • In some cases, the change is owing to the MP having defected to the gaining party, and then retaining the seat in 1929. Such circumstances are marked with a *.
    • In other circumstances, the change is owing to the seat having been won by the gaining party in a by-election in the intervening years, and then retained in 1929. Such circumstances are marked with a †.
To From No. Seats
Independent Labour Labour 1 Govan*
Labour Communist 1 Battersea North
Liberal 15 Chesterfield, South Shields, Walthamstow West, Bristol North, Bristol South, Kingston upon Hull Central*, Blackburn (one of two), Oldham (one of two), Hackney South, Lambeth North, Bradford East, Batley and Morley, Wrexham, Carmarthen, Swansea West
Constitutionalist 3 Walthamstow East1, Accrington2, Stoke2
Conservative 121 Stirlingshire West, Dunbartonshire, Lanark, Partick, Lanarkshire North†, Renfrewshire West, Maryhill, Kilmarnock, Edinburgh West, Linlithgow†, Berwick & Haddington, Reading, Birkenhead West, Crewe, Stalybridge and Hyde, Stockport (one of two)†, Carlisle, Whitehaven, Derby (one of two), Belper, Derbyshire South, Drake, Barnard Castle, Sedgefield, Darlington†, Stockton-on-Tees, Sunderland (both seats), Leyton East, East Ham North, Essex SE, Leyton West, Romford, Upton, Bristol Central, Portsmouth Central, Southampton (both seats), Dudley, Stourbridge†, Kingston upon Hull East, Kingston upon Hull South West, Chatham, Dartford, Blackburn (one of two), Ormskirk, Rossendale, Ashton-under-Lyne†, Bolton (both seats), Eccles, Hulme, Oldham (one of two), Salford North, Salford South, Salford West, Bootle, Everton, Kirkdale, Warrington, Widnes, Leicester East, Loughborough, Brigg, Fulham West, Hammersmith South, Islington North, Kensington North, Battersea South†, Greenwich, Islington East, Camberwell North-West, Hackney Central, Kennington, Hammersmith North†, St Pancras North, St Pancras South East, St Pancras South West, Wandsworth Central, Norfolk South West, Norwich (one of two), Kettering, Northampton†, Peterborough, Bassetlaw, Nottingham South, The Wrekin, Frome, Lichfield, Walsall, Wolverhampton West, Nuneaton, Duddeston, Coventry, Aston, Deritend, Erdington, Ladywood, Yardley, Swindon, York, Cleveland, Acton, Enfield, Tottenham South, Sheffield Central, Bradford North, Leeds Central, Sowerby, Wakefield, Sheffield Park, Bradford Central, Pontefract, Newport (Monmouthshire), Brecon and Radnor, Llandaff & Barry, Cardiff Central, Cardiff East, Cardiff South
Speaker 1 Halifax
Independent 1 Mossley
Labour gains: 142
Liberal Labour 2 Bethnal Green North-East, Newcastle upon Tyne East
Constitutionalist 2 Camborne, Heywood and Radcliffe*
Conservative 32 Banff, Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine, Fife East, Dumfriesshire, Galloway, Bedfordshire Mid, Luton, Huntingdonshire, Isle of Ely, Birkenhead East, Eddisbury, Bodmin, Cornwall North, Penryn and Falmouth, St Ives†, South Molton, Dorset East, Harwich, Hereford, Ashford, Darwen, Preston (one of two), Blackley, Withington, Bosworth†, Holland with Boston†, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk East, Nottingham East, Eye, Flintshire, Pembrokeshire
Liberal gains: 36
Conservative Labour 1 King's Norton
Constitutionalist 1 Epping*
Conservative gains: 2
Independent Constitutionalist 1 Stretford*
Ind. Conservative Conservative 1 Exeter*
Nationalist UUP 2 Fermanagh and Tyrone (both seats)
1 Previous MP had defected to the Conservatives by the 1929 election
2 Previous MP had defected to the Liberals by the 1929 election

See also


  1. All parties shown. Conservatives include Ulster Unionists.


  1. Doerr, pp. 104–5.
  2. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 July 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


  • Craig, F. W. S. (1989), British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987, Dartmouth: Gower, ISBN 0900178302
  • Doerr, Paul W., British foreign policy 1919–1939

Further reading


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