1983 United Kingdom general election in Wales

← 1979 9 June 1983 1987 →

All 38 Welsh seats to the House of Commons
  First party Second party
Leader Michael Foot Margaret Thatcher
Party Labour Conservative
Leader since 10 November 1980 11 February 1975
Last election 21 seats, 46.9% 11 seats, 32.2%
Seats before 23[a] 12[a]
Seats won 20 14
Seat change Decrease3[b] Increase2[b]
Popular vote 603,858 499,310
Percentage 37.5% 31.0%
Swing Decrease9.4% Decrease1.2%

  Third party Fourth party
Leader Dafydd Wigley
Party Alliance Plaid Cymru
Leader since 1981
Last election 1 seats, 10.6% 2 seats, 8.0%
Seats before 1[a] 2[a]
Seats won 2 2
Seat change Increase1[b] Steady
Popular vote 373,358 125,309
Percentage 23.2% 7.8%
Swing Increase12.6% Decrease0.2%

The 1983 United Kingdom general election in Wales took place on 9 June 1983 for all 38 Welsh seats to the House of Commons. The Labour Party again won a majority of Welsh MPs, but the party's vote share declined by 9.4% and they lost three seats. In this election popular vote and percentage gap produced between Labour and Conservative parties will be the smallest one up until 2019 UK general election.

Despite the Labour party winning the most votes in Wales, the Conservatives won the general election.[1]

The governing Conservatives made a net gain of two seats, with the SDP–Liberal Alliance gaining one.[2] Across the UK the Conservatives won a landslide majority and continued in office for a second term.[3]


Below is a table summarising the results of the 1983 general election in Wales.[3]

Party Seats Votes
Total Gains Losses Net +/- % seats Total votes % votes Change
Labour 20 0 3 Decrease3 52.6 603,858 37.5 Decrease9.4
Conservative 14 3 1 Increase2 36.8 499,310 31.0 Decrease1.2
Alliance 2 1 0 Increase1 5.3 373,358 23.2 Increase12.6
Plaid Cymru 2 0 0 Steady 5.3 125,309 7.8 Decrease0.2
Other parties 0 0 0 Steady 7,151 0.4 Decrease1.9
Popular vote
SDP–Liberal Alliance
Plaid Cymru
Parliament seats
SDP–Liberal Alliance
Plaid Cymru

Background and aftermath

Thatcher was a controversial figure in Wales. In 1983 Thatcher launched the election campaign at a rally in Cardiff attempting to appeal to Labour voters. She led the Conservative Party to its best general election result in Wales with 14 seats.[4]

In 1985 Thatcher began her coal mine closing programme. She closed multiple mines in South Wales including; Aberpergwm, Abertillery, Bedwas, Garw, Margam, Penrhiwceiber, St Johns and Treforgan. In 1986 Thatcher also closed Bersham, Cwm and Nantgarw coal mines.[5][6]

In response to the closures, one Welsh union worker said: "Thatcher killed, killed this town… we were always tainted with that brush of, of what Thatcher did to us to be quite honest." The closures led to decades of unemployment, under-employment, ill health, increased crime, increased drug use and a lack of hope in the Welsh valleys. Many parts of the valleys are still yet to fully recover from these effects.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Notional 1979 results.
  2. ^ a b c Indicates boundary change—so this is a nominal figure.


  1. ^ "UK Election Statistics: 1918-2022, A Long Century of Elections" (PDF). House of Commons Library. p. 22.
  2. ^ "Ups and downs on Welsh vote trail". BBC News. 5 April 2005. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b "GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS, 9 JUNE 1983" (PDF). 1984. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Margaret Thatcher: Her contested legacy in Wales". BBC News. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  5. ^ "Pit closures, year by year". BBC News. 5 March 2004. Retrieved 9 December 2022.
  6. ^ a b Davies, Steve (9 August 2021). "The pit closures of the 1980s – part of Mrs Thatcher's green eco-strategy?". Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data. Retrieved 9 December 2022.