In 1979, an unprecedented constitutional thing happened. Margaret Thatcher, the Leader of the Conservative Party, brought down the Labour government of James Callaghan.
Callaghan’s government had 319 seats out of 635. For those unfamiliar with Parliament in the 1970s, 318 seats were needed for a majority then.
Already close to the edge, Thatcher capitalised on the growing unpopularity of Callaghan, and addressing the speaker said:
“Mr. Speaker, I beg to move, That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government”
That evening, every political correspondent in Britain held their breath. A motion of no confidence is not something someone does unless they are absolutely certain it would pass. In calling the vote, Thatcher made history. One had not been passed in over half a century. And she was successful.
The government collapsed, and an early General Election was called. With 311 votes to the Government’s 310, by the skin of her teeth, Thatcher shooed out Labour rule – something that wouldn’t return for a whopping 18 years. By the time the next Labour government was formed (Blair’s landslide in 1997), a whole generation of voters existed that had didn’t know Labour government.