Greater London Council election, 1964

Greater London Council election, 1964

The first election to the Greater London Council was held on April 9, 1964. The election happened at a time of very high political tension, with a general election due in a few months. When the GLC had been created, many had assumed it would be a natural Conservative victory, but due to the exclusion of some Conservative-voting areas from the new boundaries and to the national trend of some dissatisfaction with the Conservative government and enthusiasm for the Labour opposition, Labour won a narrow victory in votes. The GLC did not come into its powers until April 1, 1965, but spent the first year setting up its committee structure and arranging with its predecessor authorities to take over.

With no satisfactory sub-divisions in place, the electoral system used multi-member 'first past the post' in the new London Boroughs (the Parliamentary constituencies did not follow the Greater London boundaries). The large constituencies where the winner took all exaggerated Labour's win in votes into a near two-to-one lead in terms of seats. It also made it extremely difficult for the Liberal Party to win any seats. In addition to the 100 councillors, there were sixteen Aldermen who divided 11 to Labour and 5 to the Conservatives, the strength of the parties on the council was 75 Labour to 41 Conservatives.

With an electorate of 5,466,756, there was a turnout of 44.2%. Labour did particularly well to win Bexley and Havering, but performed poorly in Enfield which they might have expected to win. In Tower Hamlets, the Communist Party of Great Britain came in as runners-up with 8% of the vote.


By-elections 1964-1967

Less than a month after the election, Marjorie McIntosh (Labour, Hammersmith) died and precipitated a byelection; however, given that the voters had elected the GLC and the new London Boroughs, the parties were short of money and the Conservatives decided not to oppose the Labour candidate who was returned unopposed on June 18. Oliver Galley (Conservative, Harrow, died in October 1965 and the Conservatives retained his seat at a byelection on January 27, 1966. By the end of the term, there were two seats vacant due to the resignations of Sir Joseph Haygarth (Conservative, Barnet) and Mrs Mavis Webster (Labour, Waltham Forest).

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