Everything Changes

  • Philip Cowley
  • Dennis Kavanagh


Few general election manifestoes are remembered. Even fewer make much difference. Labour’s 1983 manifesto was famously described as ‘the longest suicide note in history’; few others have been anywhere near as memorable. Almost none have materially affected election campaigns. Yet the process of manifesto production is taken seriously by the parties, both as a chance to showcase their policies and—if elected—as giving a mandate for government. It is normally an extended process, taking place over months, sometimes years, with policies carefully trailed and tested, often involving extensive consultation with think tanks and campaigning groups. In 2017, by contrast, all the parties rushed to write their manifestoes in weeks. Even under normal circumstances, manifestoes are not usually great works of literature, and given the speed at which they were produced, this was especially true in 2017; yet these hastily produced and cobbled together documents mattered, in a way they rarely do and in a way few would have predicted at the start of the campaign.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Cowley
    • 1
  • Dennis Kavanagh
    • 2
  1. 1.Queen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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