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.

Class: Labour as a Catch-Ail Party?

Class: Labour as a Catch-Ail Party?

Class: Labour as a catch-ail party?

The significance of the class cleavage for British politics is a long-established topic of controversy. Much debate has surrounded the nature and explanation of the relationship over time between class and party support. In the 1950s and 1960s it was generally agreed that class was ‘pre-eminent among the factors used to explain party allegiance in Britain’ (Butler and Stokes 1974; see also Lipset 1960; Pulzer 1968). Since then a new orthodoxy has proclaimed that class has lost its ability to condition electoral behaviour in Britain, so heralding the possibility of new lines of division reflecting other sources of conflict which can, in turn, be expected to alter the structure of political competition – exactly the ...

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