Comparative Politics

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By Mark Garnett

Regardless of a contemporary decline in voter turnout, British common elections are nonetheless the centrepiece of Britain's liberal democracy and their effects make a true distinction to each British citizen. They command powerful media curiosity lengthy prior to their dates are introduced or even uneventful campaigns dominate the headlines.

The 2010 normal election observed the 1st direct televised debates among the most celebration leaders, including extra curiosity to a conflict which used to be constantly more likely to be shut. the outcome was once a 'hung parliament' and the 1st British coalition govt given that 1945. even though, as this booklet exhibits those have been simply the most recent manifestations of a metamorphosis in British elections which begun within the early Nineteen Sixties.

While a few election rituals stay intact - the counting of votes through hand, the solemn assertion of person constituency effects and, most significantly, the peaceable handover of energy if the incumbent celebration loses, nearly every thing of value has replaced. electorate have very diverse attitudes; fewer of them have celebration loyalties that are greater than pores and skin deep, they usually are inclined to base their offerings on 'short-term' components similar to the perceived competence of the events and clone of the chief. The events themselves are slightly recognisable from the associations of 1964 - now not least simply because their club figures have diminished dramatically. Election campaigns are actually seriously centralised, and concentration obsessively on a handful of objective seats.

This ebook reports the background of British normal elections seeing that 1964, charting the alterations in electorate and events at each step. In parallel, it indicates how electoral analysts have spoke back to those advancements. the 1st e-book of its variety, it will likely be valuable to readers with a basic curiosity in British politics, in addition to to undergraduate and postgraduate scholars of the topic.

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Extra resources for British General Elections Since 1964: Diversity, Dealignment, and Disillusion

Sample text

However, Gaitskell’s proposals for reform met strenuous opposition and, far from scrapping the clause, his unrepentant party decided in 1960 that it should be printed on membership cards. In the same year, Labour’s annual conference narrowly voted to adopt a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament, forcing Gaitskell to vow that he and his allies would ‘fight and fight and fight again to save the party we love’. Shortly afterwards, he comfortably defeated a leadership challenge from Harold Wilson; and at the 1961 conference the unilateralist policy was overturned by an overwhelming majority.

A second development was a sharper focus on the party leader. Mr Wilson ‘dominated his party’s campaign to an unprecedented degree’, according to Butler and King (1965: 150). He determined the strategy, made 20 set-piece speeches to large audiences across the country, and also regularly chaired the party’s morning press conferences in London. This dynamic display gave rise to Conservative claims that Labour was a one-man band. However, Wilson led one of the most talented of shadow cabinets; indeed, his desire to dominate was partly inspired by a fear of conspiracy amongst his colleagues.

However, MPs could not have been unduly disconcerted by the gap between Wilson’s announcement and the dissolution, since they had been operating under the shadow of the ballot box ever since the October 1964 election. indd 29 12/17/2013 8:19:23 PM 30 British General Elections since 1964 While two years earlier Home had hung on in the hope that something better might turn up, Wilson had wavered because he feared that the situation being reported by the polls might prove too good to be true. Entering the 1966 campaign, Labour was clearly ahead of the Conservatives in voting intentions (by 51 per cent to 42 per cent on average) and, unsurprisingly, the bookmakers had Labour as heavy odds-on favourites to win.

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