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.

Conclusion: Was 1997 a Critical Election?

Conclusion: Was 1997 a critical election?

In the immediate aftermath of Labour's victory many commentators claimed that British party politics before and after the 1997 election could legitimately be regarded as distinct eras. In this perspective, 1997 represented a watershed, or critical election, producing a major long-term shift in the familiar pattern of party competition. After the initial furore ebbed, however, more sceptical voices were heard. Some believed that Labour's victory was due to mounting disgust and anger with the Conservative government over sleaze, perceptions of economic mismanagement and cabinet divisions and splits over Europe, but that there was little evidence of a durable surge in new Labour loyalists or a change in the social character of such supporters. Once ...

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