The snap General Election of February 1974 ended with the UK’s first Hung Parliament since 1929 and the result dealt a mortal blow to Tory leader Edward Heath’s premiership. He had expected a landslide but in the end Labour polled 301 seats to their 297.
After four days of trying unsuccessfully to gain the support of the Liberals, Heath was forced to resign, leaving the way clear for Labour leader Harold Wilson to move into Number 10.
It was Yorkshire-born Wilson’s third time in the office, the difference this time being he had to head up a minority government.
In the run up to the election, Heath’s government imposed pay freezes in a bid to support the economy but events overseas - a war between the Arabs and Israelis - led to a sharp hike in oil prices. This in turn meant coal was in greater demand and it was at this point miners sensed an advantage and pressed their claim for higher wages. Miners actually rejected the offer of a 13 per cent rise. By January 1974, they were on a three-day week and a state of emergency was declared. When they voted for strike action, Heath called their bluff (and an election) but in the end, he lost.