The 2010 UK General Election was held on 6 May 2010 (except in the Thirsk and Malton constituency where it was postponed to 27 May, due to the death of a candidate). The Conservative Party emerged as the largest party, with 307 seats (a net gain of 97) and 36.1% of the vote, the Labour Party won 258 seats (a net loss of 91) with 29.0% of the vote, the Liberal Democrat Party 57 seats (a net loss of 5) with 23.0% of the vote, and other parties won 28 seats. Turnout was 65.1%, an increase of 3.7% from 2005.
The election was fought against the backdrop of an economic recession, and with the reputation of Members of Parliament suffering from a scandal over their expenses. The Labour Party campaign, led by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, stressed the importance of sound economic management, but Brown’s uneasy rapport with the public was highlighted when he was recorded in an unguarded moment describing a voter as a ‘bigoted woman’. The Conservative Party campaign, led by David Cameron, emphasized the need for a change of government, although the theme of the ‘big society’ failed to resonate. Coverage of the campaign was dominated by the three televised debates between Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats.
With no party gaining an overall majority of the 650 House of Commons seats, the election resulted in a hung Parliament. Without formal constitutional rules in the case of such an outcome, Gordon Brown remained Prime Minister whilst talks were initiated between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. There were also discussions about a possible Labour Liberal Democrat government requiring support from other parties. On 11 May 2010 Gordon Brown resigned, and David Cameron became Prime Minister at the head of a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. Nick Clegg became Deputy-Prime Minister, and an agreement was published setting out the programme for the coalition government.