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.

Introduction: Understanding Electoral Change

Introduction: Understanding electoral change

As Tony Blair passed cheering crowds to enter Downing Street on 2 May 1997, accompanied by his wife and young children, many believed that Britain had experienced an election which inaugurated a new political era. Given the size of the Labour landslide in seats, and the sharp reversal in Conservative fortunes after 18 years in power, the 1997 election produced a decisive break in the pattern of parliamentary politics which had dominated Britain under successive Conservative administrations since 1979. The central questions this book addresses is whether, in what respects and by how much, the 1997election differs from its predecessors. If we look critically at the evidence beyond the impression derived from the popular headlines, were there actually ...

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