The Road to New Labour

  • David Butler
  • Dennis Kavanagh

Abstract

Labour’s 1992 election defeat proved to be a watershed in the party’s history. Each of the three previous election defeats, starting with 1979, was followed by a reappraisal of strategy and significant shifts in policy, but 1992 was a particularly bitter blow, because many factors had favoured Labour. The result appeared to underline Conservative hegemony and Labour’s minority status. In general elections between 1922 and 1974 Labour had trailed the Conservatives by an average of 4 per cent of the vote, but over the four general elections from 1979 to 1992 the average deficit had grown to 10 per cent. Whether the party shifted to the left in 1983 or to the centre in 1987 and 1992, defeat was the result. According to Anthony King, the election might be a signal that the long historical era in which the two major parties in Britain alternated reasonably frequently in office had finally come to an end.1

Keywords

Europe Income Assure Defend Ethos 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    A. King, Britain at the Polls (1993).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cf. D. Kavanagh, The Reordering of British Politics (1997).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See J. Sopel, Tony Blair: the Moderniser (1995)Google Scholar
  4. and J. Rentoul, Tony Blair (1995).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    A. Heath et al., Labour’s Last Chance? (1994).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    S. Richards, New Statesman, 11 April 1997.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    P. Mandelson and R. Liddle, The Blair Revolution. Can Labour Deliver? (1996).Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    See D. Miliband (ed.), Reinventing the Left (1994).Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    T. Blair, New Britain (1996).Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    See W. Hutton, The State We’re In (1995);Google Scholar
  11. F. Field, Making Welfare Work (1995);Google Scholar
  12. S. Jenkins, Accountable to None (1995);Google Scholar
  13. and J. Kay, The Foundations of Corporate Success (1995).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. These and other works are subject to a critical examination by David Willetts in Blair’s Gurus (1996).Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    These rivalries are fully reported in N. Jones, Campaign 1997 (1997).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Dennis Kavanagh
    • 2
  1. 1.OxfordUK
  2. 2.University of LiverpoolUK

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