Polling day in the 1983 election

Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives are re-elected with an increased majority. The Liberal/SDP Alliance fighting its first joint election performed reasonably well. Roy Jenkins, the SDP leader, was appointed ‘Prime Minister designate’ but concern at Jenkins’ lack of impact led to a refocusing of the campaign with the more popular Liberal leader David Steel being given a more prominent role. Alliance fortunes improved as the election went on to the extent that the Alliance was only 600,000 votes behind Labour in second place. This was not reflected in the number of MPs elected with only 23 successful candidates (17 Liberal/6 SDP). Among the new Liberal and SDP MPs elected were Michael Meadowcroft (Leeds West) and two future leaders – Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil) and Charles Kennedy (Ross, Cromarty & Skye).