It was an election that resulted in diminished numerical voter expectations on the part of all three leading parties, but the David Cameron led Conservatives ultimately finished on top.
The Tories anticipated winning a clear majority of parliamentary seats. Instead they fell short by 20 seats, gaining 306. The popular vote share of 36.1 percent was comparable to that achieved by Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair in his last of three national victories.
That early morning of 2005 Blair looked somber, like a losing candidate, while wife Cherie looked close to tears. An immediate tug of war commenced in earnest thereafter to coax Blair to resign and give then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown a chance to establish a positive record and image before facing Britain's voters.
Brown almost certainly knew from the outset that achieving another electoral victory for Labour would be difficult. First of all, Blair sought to stay on longer than his party wanted him. Increasingly broader hints turned to a gigantic shove at the Labour Party Conference at which Blair finally announced he would step down.
Brown was perceived as a far from ideal candidate. His confrontational manner during the televised candidates debates caused many voters to react negatively according to the polls.
In reality the attack strategy was born of increasing awareness that his party was behind. Cameron and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats had played on voter dissatisfaction in urging leadership change. Brown was compelled to defend the Labour record and attacked both rivals in a bid to alter popular sentiment.
The incumbent prime minister ultimately toppled under negative Tony Blair baggage. Not only had the economy gone sour, leaving voters seeking change, but the negative impact of the Downing Street Memo redounded not only against Blair but his party.
In that Labour dropped 91 seats from the last election and polled a miserable 29 percent, this result clearly revealed that voters sought change.
The question was what kind of change voters sought. Cameron had his own albatross that he sought to shed after being named party leader, that of the Margaret Thatcher brand of Toryism. The prime minister known as the "Iron Lady" was to Cameron what Blair constituted to Brown.
With Thatcher in polling freefall, Michael Heseltine and others engineered her departure as prime minister. Former Thatcher prote'ge' John Major was chosen to replace her in a move comparable to that of Labour installing Gordon Brown, hoping to build him up for the forthcoming election and keep the party in power.
Major's party won the 1992 election by the narrowest of margins. After a long period of dominance the Tories were in decline. The 1997 election resulted in a massive landslide for Labour.
Labour had been out of power for so long that prior to the Blair technocratic revolution, and moving the party away from its former socialist roots, it was debated whether it had any future.
Cameron reworked the Conservative Party image in the manner that Blair had earlier with Labour. He sought to demolish the Tory stereotype depicting stodgy, well dressed older men sitting in West End clubs sipping brandy.
Cameron shook hands with voters on London's subway trains, known by locals as "the Tube." He openly sought to establish a grassroots image.
Thatcher was considered by many to be cold, autocratic, and uncaring. The youthful Tory leader presented himself and his party as vital instruments for change who at the same time would scrupulously safeguard the nation's purse strings from profligate spending.
After the first debate of the recently concluded campaign Cameron and his party colleagues received a scare. The candidate who impressed voters and was said to have won the debate was Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats, who urged that voters consider a new alternative after years of being governed by Labour and the Conservatives.