The Road to New Labour

  • David Butler
  • Dennis Kavanagh


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


Trade Union Opinion Poll Party Leader Conservative Party Party Structure 
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  1. 1.
    A. King, Britain at the Polls (1993).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cf. D. Kavanagh, The Reordering of British Politics (1997).Google Scholar
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    See J. Sopel, Tony Blair: the Moderniser (1995)Google Scholar
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    See D. Miliband (ed.), Reinventing the Left (1994).Google Scholar
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    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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