The UK’s First Past The Post plurality voting system usually produces strong single-party governments that in the past have implemented sweeping changes.

For instance, Clement Attlee’s post-war government created the beloved National Health Service and social housing. 

In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher’s government saw mass privatization and deregulation. Since 2010 small and regional parties have made the majority difficult to achieve. This situation has also greatly complicated polling. Small swings in voter preferences can have dramatic effects on the seats won. 


Margaret Thatcher and President Reagan

Theresa May, prime minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Conservative Party from 2016 to 2019, called an early election when she saw polling that showed a massive conservative preference but had to form a minority government to control the possible damage that the United Kingdom would face during Brexit. The government has only had a majority in two of the last nine years.

The parties put out a rarely-read manifesto detailing their plans for the next government. 

Election campaigns in the United Kingdom are strikingly short, intense, and intimate. 

Each campaign is a six-week sprint compared to the nearly two-year marathon of the American presidential contests. Each party has a color; Labour in red and Conservative in blue. Candidates and supporters often wear rosettes while they are going door to door. Since the 1930’s all general elections have been held on a Thursday and usually in Spring or early Summer. It is unclear what if any effect the season or weather will have on the results of this year’s election.

Political television advertisements are banned, therefore until recently, campaigning was largely done in a more personal manner: candidates would talk to voters on the street and visit their homes. The House of Commons has 650 members which allow them to easily visit their relatively small constituencies. 

These traditions continue, but the advent of social media has added a new dynamic to the race. Online Ads can be targeted and events streamed to the world. An example of this is Boris Johnson and his incredible popularity that he achieved in the past year due to his social media strategy.

 Boris Johnson 

The British press is known for its fearless determination. They followed prominent candidates wherever they went - images of them on the campaign trail filled with newspapers, magazines, and television screens are very known. 

These historic prints of politicians throughout the decades have been held in archives for years and are now available for purchase on IMS Vintage Photos. If you are interested in this side of history, click here and enjoy your dive into the past!