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 Policy and Ideology: Reversing the 1950s?

Party policy and ideology: Reversing the 1950s?

How ‘new’ is ‘New Labour’? This question is crucial to assessments of the 1997 election. If the party has truly transformed itself then the policy choices put before electors have changed quite radically – precipitating long-term shifts in support and justifying diagnoses of the election as ‘critical’. If, on the other hand, the party has simply made a temporary strategic adjustment and will gradually drift back to its old positions over the next decade, then perhaps the 1997 election has to be seen simply as ‘deviating’.

The Evidence of the Manifestos

As the Introduction has suggested, three conditions mark out an election as critical:

  • Realignment in the social basis of party support.
  • Realignment in the ...
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