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Did Labour's landslide victory in 1997 mark a critical watershed in British party politics? Did the radical break with 18 years of Conservative rule reflect a fundamental change in the social and ideological basis of British voting behaviour? Critical Elections brings together leading scholars of parties, elections and voting behaviour to provide the first systematic overview of long-term change in British electoral politics.

Party Loyalties: Dealignment or Realignment?
Party loyalties: Dealignment or realignment?
IvorCreweKatarinaThomson

There are times, perhaps once every thirty years, when there is a sea-change in politics. It then does not matter what you say or what you do. There is a shift in what the public wants and what the public approves of. I suspect there is now such a sea-change – and it is for Mrs. Thatcher (James Callaghan, quoted in Donoughue 1987: 191).

An emphatic election result usually produces the instant verdict that it was a ‘critical’ election, the moment in history that the old party system made way for the new. The 1997 election is no exception. The media contain countless references to the inevitability of Labour winning a second term, and probably a third, ...

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