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By David Butler, Dennis Kavanagh (auth.)

The such a lot authoritative learn of a landmark British normal Election - the 15th ebook within the well known Nuffield sequence of election stories. This hugely readable account covers all of the salient beneficial properties - the history, the crusade, the implications and the implications of Labour's victory. in accordance with shut statement of get together headquarters, it explores every one party's strategic judgements and their implementation, displaying how 1997 observed campaigning suggestions at an altogether new point of class. The conflict within the media and the constituencies is analysed intimately. there's a mass of information and thorough statistical research of the crusade and effects. Plates and cartoons entertainingly illustrate the crusade path and recapture the drama of the election.

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What should the party say about Labour? For much of the time ministers made different charges, some of which lacked credibility and some of which were self-defeating. Addressing a political cabinet in January 1996 Danny Finkelstein illustrated the contradictions in ministers' reactions to Tony Blair's speech in Singapore about stakeholding a few days earlier. Some had claimed that, underneath the public relations veneer, it was the same old Labour party, while others argued variously that Labour was simply stealing their language and policies, that Blair had changed but his party had not, or that the Conservatives were 'the real thing'.

John Major's critics argued that although he now had a fresh mandate, he did little with it. Disunity over Europe persisted. In April and June 1996 two Conservative Euro-sceptics introduced bills: one to curb the powers of the European Court of Justice, the other to hold a referendum on Britain's future relations with the EU. The votes showed that at least a third of the back-benchers were hostile to further integration. Within weeks of John Major's re-election as leader, the party lost the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election with its vote share halved from 1992.

Within six months the twin themes of the 1992 election success - tax cuts and trust in John Major - had been reversed. The leadership could be consoled that the ERM exit had occurred early enough in the parliament to allow time for the party to regain the voters' trust. The electorate would, it was hoped, forget 'Black Wednesday' and appreciate the benefits of economic recovery; after all, the Wilson government had restored its electoral standing within two years of the 1967 devaluation, as had the Callaghan government after the 1976 International Monetary Fund intervention.

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