Eleições Gerais de 1997

Eleições Gerais de 1997


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Partidos políticos

Votos totais

%

MPs

9,600,943

30.7

178

5,242,947

16.8

46

13,518,167

43.2

418


Eleições gerais paquistanesas de 1997

Eleições gerais foram realizadas no Paquistão em 3 de fevereiro de 1997 para eleger os membros da Assembleia Nacional. As eleições foram uma disputa acirrada entre o Partido Popular do Paquistão (PPP) liderado pelo primeiro-ministro pré-eleitoral Benazir Bhutto e a Liga Muçulmana do Paquistão (N) liderada por Nawaz Sharif. Sharif se beneficiou da morte controversa do irmão de Bhutto, Murtaza, um líder populista, uma economia em declínio e alegados casos de corrupção contra o marido de Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari.

As eleições ocorreram após a demissão do anterior governo do PPP pelo Presidente Farooq Leghari por questões de segurança nacional. O governo de Bhutto sofreu com má gestão financeira, acusações de corrupção, tensões raciais em sua província natal de Sindh, questões com o judiciário, violações da constituição e rixas intrapartidárias e familiares. Depois que o governo do PPP foi demitido, um governo provisório foi formado sob a liderança de Malik Meraj Khalid.

O resultado foi uma vitória do PML (N), que recebeu o maior número de votos já conquistados por um partido da oposição na época. Esta foi a primeira vez que o PML-N ganhou uma eleição sem fazer parte de nenhuma aliança. Sharif posteriormente tornou-se primeiro-ministro por um segundo mandato não consecutivo. A participação eleitoral foi de apenas 36,0%. [1]


Eleições Gerais 1997 - Liderança, Imagem e Política: a Campanha do Partido Conservador

John Major tornou-se primeiro-ministro em 1990, após a saída de Margaret Thatcher e seria difícil encontrar um contraste maior com sua antecessora. No entanto, ele liderou seu partido à vitória nas Eleições Gerais de 1992, mantendo uma pequena maioria, apesar de muitas pesquisas de opinião prevendo uma vitória trabalhista. Ele serviu por um mandato completo de 1992 a 1997, e não foi nada tranquilo.

John Major foi ridicularizado em desenhos animados e em programas satíricos de TV, como Spitting Image, por ser cinza e pouco carismático. Com sua pequena maioria, ele lutou para controlar seus backbenchers e alguns em seu gabinete. Ele foi famoso ao descrever alguns de seus ministros de gabinete como "bastardos" e, quando alguns defensores eurocépticos continuaram se rebelando contra o chicote sobre os votos relacionados ao Tratado de Maastricht, ele perdeu sua maioria parlamentar ao retirar o chicote de alguns rebeldes em série.

Eventualmente, em 1995, ele lançou seu notório desafio “coloque ou cale a boca” para seus parlamentares e o parlamentar eurocéptico John Redwood o desafiou pela liderança. Nesse momento, apenas os parlamentares votaram na liderança conservadora e se uniram em torno do primeiro-ministro e ele venceu confortavelmente.

Embora isso tenha reforçado sua posição no Partido Conservador, ele continuou a ser visto como sem controle. Em uma das perguntas do primeiro-ministro, o líder da oposição Tony Blair disse: "Eu lidero meu partido, ele segue o dele" e isso reforçou a imagem popular de John Major como um líder fraco.

Assim como o líder do Partido Conservador teve um problema de imagem antes das eleições de 1997, o mesmo poderia ser dito de todo o partido. Costuma-se dizer que partidos divididos não ganham eleições, e os conservadores pareciam fundamentalmente divididos nos anos que antecederam as eleições de 1997, principalmente quanto à questão de nosso relacionamento com a União Europeia. John Major teve que tentar manter uma festa que incluía comprometimento Europhiles como Ken Clark e Michael Heseltine e Eurocépticos como Michael Portillo e Michael Howard no topo da festa.

Além de serem vistos como divididos, eles também eram vistos como presos na miséria.

John Major fez um discurso sobre seu próprio conservadorismo, no qual pediu ao povo britânico que “voltasse ao básico”, que incluía os valores familiares tradicionais. Isso levou a imprensa sensacionalista a buscar todos os exemplos possíveis de ministros conservadores e parlamentares que se comportavam de maneira diferente dos valores tradicionais. Uma série de escândalos sexuais prejudicou gravemente a reputação do partido. Também houve escândalos financeiros, como o caso “Dinheiro para Perguntas”, em que dois backbenchers conservadores teriam aceitado pagamentos por meio de um lobista, em troca de perguntas na Câmara dos Comuns. Enquanto um dos parlamentares renunciou imediatamente, o outro (Neil Hamilton) e o lobista (Ian Greer) procuraram limpar seus nomes no tribunal, prolongando a história e trazendo mais evidências. Esta ainda era uma saga em andamento na época das eleições gerais de 1997, apesar de ter surgido inicialmente em 1994, já que um relatório sobre o incidente deveria relatar suas conclusões em 1997. Continuou a ser uma história importante durante a eleição, porque o jornalista da BBC Martin Bell escolheu lutar com Neil Hamilton para ser o MP por Tatton como o candidato “anti-sleaze”. Os candidatos trabalhistas e liberais democratas desistiram e Bell derrotou Hamilton.

A percepção de que o Partido Conservador era fraco, dividido, desprezível e corrupto certamente contribuiu para o resultado das eleições.

Foi sugerido que outro elemento da imagem dos conservadores em 1997, que pode ter contribuído para sua derrota, foi a ideia de que era "a festa desagradável". Isso foi sugerido por Theresa May em 2002, quando ela era a presidente do Partido Conservador. Ela sugeriu que o partido contava com uma base estreita de homens brancos abastados e que figuras importantes haviam atacado as minorias.

Não se lembra muito do manifesto do Partido Conservador de 1997. Embora John Major o tenha descrito como "ousado" e "abrangente", havia poucas políticas atraentes, em grande parte baseadas em uma continuação de temas de anos anteriores: dar aos cidadãos escolha e controle e reduzindo ainda mais o papel do estado. A política mais atraente foi provavelmente uma proposta de subsídio de impostos para encorajar as famílias nucleares tradicionais, onde um parceiro que não trabalhava poderia passar seu subsídio de isenção de impostos para seu cônjuge que trabalhava. Em uma sociedade de famílias diversas, onde a maioria das mulheres trabalhava, isso só contribuiu para a sensação de que o Partido Conservador em 1997 não representava onde estava o Reino Unido.


Eleições gerais no PAQUISTÃO & # 8211 Uma breve história

A eleição é a espinha dorsal de qualquer forma de democracia. Dá uma oportunidade ao eleitor de expressar sua aceitação ou rejeição, e de trazer ao poder o partido para quem ele acredita que funcionará para um melhor
futuro e prosperidade do país. O Paquistão é um dos 167 países do mundo onde a democracia é escolhida como forma de administrar os assuntos de estado. O estado da República Islâmica do Paquistão está sendo operado sob a democracia parlamentar. Um sistema de governo no qual as pessoas elegem diretamente representantes para o parlamento é conhecido
como democracia parlamentar. O parlamento elege o primeiro-ministro entre seus membros e, por meio do parlamento, o primeiro-ministro e seu gabinete respondem diretamente ao povo. O parlamento é responsável por fazer leis e tomar outras decisões importantes para o país.

AUTORIDADE CONDUTORA DE ELEIÇÕES NO PAQUISTÃO

A Comissão Eleitoral do Paquistão (ECP) é um órgão federal independente, autônomo, permanente e estabelecido constitucionalmente. ECP é responsável pela organização e realização de eleições para o estadual superior e
câmaras baixas do parlamento, governos provinciais e locais e eleições para o cargo de presidente do Paquistão. Além disso, a delimitação dos círculos eleitorais e a preparação dos Cadernos Eleitorais também estão sob as responsabilidades básicas da ECP. De acordo com os princípios mencionados pela constituição do Paquistão, a comissão toma as providências necessárias para garantir que a eleição seja conduzida de forma justa, transparente e de acordo com
lei. Além disso, essas práticas corruptas são protegidas contra a Comissão Eleitoral, que foi formada em 23 de março de 1956 e foi reestruturada e reformada em várias ocasiões na história do país. Nos termos do Artigo 213 e 216, o Comissário Eleitoral Principal e quatro juízes aposentados dos Tribunais Superiores das respectivas quatro províncias do país foram nomeados pelo Presidente, na forma prevista nas cláusulas (2A) e (2B) do Artigo 213 do a
constituição. Atualmente, o Juiz (R) Sardar Muhammad Raza é o atual Comissário Eleitoral Principal. A Comissão Eleitoral do Paquistão tem um painel de 5 membros, dos quais 4 membros são de cada uma das quatro províncias (Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistão e Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) chefiado por um Comissário Eleitoral Principal.
transaciona seus negócios por meio de reuniões. Todos os membros da Comissão Eleitoral têm igual status e voz no
decisões da Comissão.

A Lei da Independência de 1947 fez das Assembléias Constituintes existentes as legislaturas de domínio com autoridade para exercer todos os poderes que anteriormente eram exercidos pela legislatura central, além dos poderes relativos à elaboração de uma nova constituição, antes da qual todos os territórios deveriam ser governado de acordo com a Lei do Governo da Índia de 1935. Na primeira sessão da Primeira Assembleia Constituinte, em 11 de agosto de 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah foi eleito por unanimidade o Presidente da Assembleia Constituinte do Paquistão, e a bandeira nacional foi formalmente aprovada por a montagem. Em 24 de outubro de 1954, o então governador geral Ghulam Muhammad dissolveu a Primeira Assembleia Constituinte.

A segunda Assembléia Constituinte do Paquistão foi criada em 28 de maio sob a Ordem do Governador Geral No. 12 de 1955. O colégio eleitoral desta assembléia eram as Assembléias Provinciais das respectivas províncias. A força desta assembleia era de 80 membros, metade de cada um do leste e oeste do Paquistão.

Em 5 de março de 1956, o general Iskander Mirza tornou-se o primeiro presidente eleito do Paquistão. De acordo com a Constituição de 1956, o Presidente era o Chefe Executivo da Federação e deveria ser eleito por todos os membros das Assembléias Nacional e Provincial por um período de cinco anos. Os poderes legislativos investidos no Parlamento, que consistia no Presidente e na Assembleia Nacional, composta por 300 membros divididos ao meio entre o Paquistão Oriental e Ocidental. Além desses 300 assentos, 5 assentos para mulheres foram reservados para cada uma das duas alas por um período de dez anos.

O presidente Iskander Mirza revogou a constituição ao declarar a Lei Marcial em 7 de outubro de 1958 e dissolveu as Assembléias Nacional e Provincial. Ele nomeou o General Muhammad Ayub Khan, Comandante-em-Chefe do Exército, como Administrador Chefe da Lei Marcial. O general Ayub Khan tornou-se o segundo presidente do Paquistão em 27 de outubro de 1958. Ele introduziu um sistema de autogoverno local conhecido como Democracias Básicas (BDs), promulgado pela Ordem das Democracias Básicas em 27 de outubro de 1959. Em 14 de fevereiro de 1960, o presidente Ayub Khan venceu o referendo e assumiu o poder da presidência ao obter 95,6% dos votos e elaborou uma nova constituição em 1º de março de 1962.

1as eleições gerais foram realizadas em 1962, sob o governo do ditador militar General Ayub Khan.
2ª eleições gerais foram realizadas em 1965, nas quais os parlamentares foram eleitos indiretamente por 80.000 membros do BD ou membros de governos locais.

A Assembleia Nacional dos anos 85 era dominada pelos proprietários rurais. A única mudança foi que a geração mais jovem de proprietários de terras substituiu os mais velhos

3ª eleições gerais foram realizadas pelo sucessor de Ayubs, General Yahya Khan, em 1970, descrito como o mais justo que o país já havia realizado até agora. Mas, em uma ironia amarga, eles desencadearam a crise política mais devastadora do país. O líder separatista bengali, o partido da Liga Awami, Sheikh Mujibur Rehmans, conquistou a votação no Paquistão Oriental e em Zulfikar
O Partido Popular do Paquistão de Ali Bhuttos (PPP) ganhou a maioria no Paquistão Ocidental. Na esteira da crise, uma guerra eclodiu entre o Paquistão e a Índia, com a ala oriental se dividindo para se tornar um Bangladesh independente e Bhutto se tornando primeiro-ministro do Paquistão menor e unificado em 1971.

4ª eleições gerais foram detidos em 1977 por Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, mas alegações de fraude foram levantadas por uma aliança de nove partidos, o Paquistão Qaumi Ittehad. O general Zia-ul-Haq derrubou Bhutto em um golpe em julho de 1977 e prometeu realizar novas eleições em 90 dias, o que nunca aconteceu. Zia enforcou Bhutto dois anos depois e foi eleito presidente em um referendo fraudado.

5ª eleições gerais das Assembléias Nacional e Provincial foram agendadas em 1985 pelo General Zia-ul-Haq em bases não partidárias com a pré-condição de que um candidato deveria ser apoiado por pelo menos 50 pessoas para ser elegível. Essas foram eleições muito estranhas. Mais de 800 personalidades políticas importantes foram presas em uma ofensiva antes das eleições. A campanha eleitoral não foi permitida e a proibição foi imposta a partidos políticos, procissões, comícios e até alto-falantes. A Assembleia Nacional dos anos 85 foi dominada pelos proprietários rurais. A única mudança foi que a geração mais jovem de proprietários de terras substituiu os mais velhos. A origem social dos novos membros do parlamento pode ser avaliada pelo fato de que 75% do número total desses órgãos eram grandes proprietários.

O povo do Paquistão testemunhou um ciclo divino de fortuna em 17 de agosto de 1988, quando o general Zia-ul-Haq e outros notáveis ​​morreram em um acidente de avião C-130 perto de Bahawalpur. De acordo com a constituição, o presidente do Senado, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, tornou-se o presidente interino. Em 2 de outubro de 1988, a Suprema Corte do Paquistão permitiu que os partidos políticos participassem das próximas eleições.

6ª eleições gerais foram realizadas em novembro de 1988. O Partido Popular do Paquistão (PPP), sob a liderança de Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, emergiu como o maior partido com 38,52% dos votos.

Ele conquistou 93 das 207 cadeiras diretamente contestadas no parlamento, que tem 237 membros. IJI conseguiu 30,16% dos votos, mas apenas 55 cadeiras. Depois que as cadeiras femininas foram distribuídas, o Partido Popular do Paquistão controlou 105 das 237 cadeiras. O PPP formou um governo de coalizão com o MQM. Em 2 de dezembro de 1988, Benazir Bhutto foi empossada não apenas como a primeira primeira-ministra do Paquistão, mas também do mundo islâmico. As eleições provinciais, realizadas em 19 de novembro, resultaram inicialmente em governos PPP em três das quatro províncias. No entanto, em Punjab, o líder IJI Nawaz Sharif tornou-se o Ministro Chefe.

7ª eleições gerais foram realizadas em agosto de 1990, após a destituição do governo de Benazir. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif prestou juramento como o novo primeiro-ministro. O presidente Ghulam Ishaq Khan novamente dissolveu as assembléias
em 18 de abril de 1993 e nomeou Balakh Sher Mazari como primeiro-ministro interino. A Suprema Corte do Paquistão invalidou a ordem presidencial e reinstaurou Nawaz Sharif como primeiro-ministro. No entanto, a crise política resultou na renúncia do primeiro-ministro e do presidente em 18 de julho de 1993. Moeen Qureshi, um funcionário do Banco Mundial, assumiu o cargo de primeiro-ministro interino.

8ª eleições gerais realizada em outubro de 1993. Nenhum partido dominante foi capaz de obter a maioria, já que o PPP obteve 86 assentos e o PML ficou em segundo com 72. Nessa época, o falecido Benazir Bhutto jogou suas cartas com muita inteligência. Ela derrotou Mian Nawaz Sharif com 121-71 de margem para o líder da Câmara e também elegeu o ex-PPP estrangeiro
Ministro Farooq Ahmed Khan Leghari como Presidente. Infelizmente, em 5 de novembro de 1996, o presidente Leghari demitiu o governo das PPPs.

9ª eleições gerais estava programada para ser realizada em fevereiro de 1997. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif prestou juramento como primeiro-ministro do Paquistão ao obter uma vitória esmagadora ao obter a maioria final de 2/3 na casa.

Ainda assim, o pesadelo não acabou, pois em 12 de outubro de 1999 o primeiro-ministro Nawaz Sharif demitiu o Sr. Pervez Musharraf, que era o chefe do Estado-Maior do Exército na época. O Sr. Nawaz Sharif não conseguiu controlar a situação, já que os generais do Exército se recusaram a aceitá-la e os generais depuseram o Sr. Nawaz Sharif do poder.

Em 12 de outubro de 1999, o primeiro-ministro Nawaz Sharif demitiu o Sr. Pervez Musharraf, que era o chefe
do Estado-Maior do Exército na época

O Chefe do Estado-Maior do Exército, General Pervez Musharraf, assumiu o título de Chefe do Executivo por meio de uma Ordem Constitucional Provisória (PCO) emitida em 14 de outubro de 1999. Ele suspendeu todos os órgãos constitucionais do estado, incluindo o Senado, Assembléias Nacional e Provincial, Presidente e Vice-Presidente Senado, Presidente, Vice-Presidente incluindo as Assembleias Nacional e Provincial e demitiu os governos Federal e Provincial.

O destaque das 12ª eleições gerais foi a entrada estrondosa de um novo jogador, Paquistão Tehrik-i Insaf (PTI), liderado pelo lendário Imran Khan

10ª eleições gerais foram realizadas em outubro de 2002. O partido Kings, Liga Muçulmana do Paquistão-Quaid-i-Azam (PML-Q), uma facção da antiga Liga Muçulmana do Paquistão (PML) obteve a maior parcela de cadeiras, 77 mas não a maioria. Os Parlamentares do Partido Popular do Paquistão (PPP-P) ficaram em segundo lugar, garantindo 63 assentos. Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), uma aliança de seis partidos islâmicos, ganhou 45 cadeiras. Mir Zafarullah Jamali foi eleito primeiro-ministro do Paquistão com 172 votos em 329, mas renunciou em 26 de junho de 2004 e Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain o substituiu como primeiro-ministro interino, que mais tarde foi substituído por Shaukat Aziz.

11ª eleições gerais em 2008 são considerados como a vitória das forças políticas e democráticas para o restabelecimento da democracia e continuidade do processo eleitoral no país, mas durante campanha política em Rawalpindi, o
o presidente do PPP-P, Benazir Bhutto, foi assassinado em 27 de dezembro de 2007. A violência estourou, resultando no reescalonamento das eleições para uma nova data em 18 de fevereiro de 2008. Parlamentar do PPP emergiu como o único maior
partido cujo número total chegou a 123 cadeiras, enquanto o PML-N ficou em segundo lugar com 93 cadeiras na assembleia nacional. O antigo governante PML-Q (agora PML) conseguiu ganhar apenas 53 cadeiras na assembleia nacional. Os partidos regionais como MQM e ANP conquistaram 25 e 13 cadeiras, respectivamente, enquanto 19 candidatos foram eleitos como candidatos independentes. Em Punjab, o PML-N formou o governo enquanto Sindh e Baluchistan caíram com PPP-P e ANP assumiu Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

12ª eleições gerais foram realizadas em maio de 2013. A característica especial desta eleição foi a entrada estrondosa de um novo jogador, o Paquistão Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), liderado pela lenda Imran Khan. É importante saber que PTI de Imran
Khan participou das eleições de 1997, 2002 e boicotou as eleições de 2008, mas não conseguiu atrair eleitores. Durante as eleições de 2013, a participação eleitoral foi surpreendentemente 55%. O PML-N emergiu como o maior partido, cujo número total chegou a 189 cadeiras. Parlamentar do PPP ficou com o 2º maior partido com 44 cadeiras, enquanto o PTI obteve a 3ª posição com 32 cadeiras. O KPK provou ser o acampamento base do PTI ao formar o primeiro governo desde seu início. PML (N) formou seu governo em Punjab e Baluchistan enquanto Sindh permaneceu com PPP-P.


Eleições Gerais 1997 - Introdução

As Eleições Gerais de 1997 foram, o que às vezes é referido como, uma eleição de mudança.

O Partido Conservador estava no poder desde 1979. 18 anos é um período de tempo incomumente longo para um partido estar continuamente no poder. Desde a eleição de 1979, o Partido Trabalhista teve cinco líderes e mais de uma “reinvenção”. No início da década de 1990, uma pergunta de ensaio popular sobre política era "O trabalho deve perder?" O mesmo seria perguntado ao Partido Conservador dez anos depois.

Uma eleição de mudança existe quando um período associado ao domínio de um partido termina e um novo período começa (como 1945, 1979 ou 1997). Não houve apenas uma pequena mudança entre os partidos, mas uma vitória esmagadora do Trabalhismo.

O que é incomum em 1997 é que não foi em uma época de catástrofe econômica ou convulsão social, como nas anteriores "eleições de mudança". Após uma severa recessão no início da década de 1990, os anos seguintes foram caracterizados por um crescimento estável, baixo desemprego e baixa inflação. Embora eleitores com longa memória possam ter punido os conservadores pela crise do mecanismo de taxa de câmbio em 1992, deve ter havido outras explicações para o resultado extraordinário.

Como pode ser visto nos resultados, esta foi uma vitória esmagadora para o Partido Trabalhista, que obteve uma grande maioria, às custas do Partido Conservador, que perdeu mais da metade de seus parlamentares, incluindo vários “grandes nomes” do Gabinete. Os liberais democratas também tiveram uma boa noite às custas do conservador, enquanto outros partidos menores tiveram pouco impacto.


1983: dividido e conquistado

Os conservadores foram reeleitos por uma vitória esmagadora em 1983, embora sua parcela de votos na verdade tenha diminuído. Na maior parte do tempo, as políticas do governo foram impopulares e causadoras de divisão. A tentativa de controlar a inflação produziu um aumento maciço do desemprego e muitas áreas urbanas se revoltaram. Então, a Argentina invadiu as Malvinas. Thatcher foi capaz de se aquecer no brilho da vitória militar, exatamente quando a maré de expectativas econômicas estava subindo.

Enquanto isso, o Trabalhismo havia se tornado virtualmente inelegível. Ele havia caído para a esquerda, prometendo nacionalização em massa, retirada do Mercado Comum e desarmamento nuclear unilateral, entre outras coisas. Também se dividiu, com vários de seus parlamentares mais moderados e populares formando o Partido Social-democrata, que prontamente firmou um pacto eleitoral com os liberais.

No evento, a SDP-Liberal Alliance falhou em “quebrar o molde da política britânica”, e o Trabalhismo sobreviveu como o principal partido da oposição. Mesmo assim, a centro-esquerda permaneceu dividida por mais uma década, ajudando os conservadores a vencer em 1987 e 1992, dando-lhes tempo para retroceder nas partes menos populares do estado.


Por que os conservadores perderam

A derrota dos conservadores nas eleições gerais deste ano é provavelmente a pior sofrida por qualquer partido desde 1931. (A comparação com 1832 não tem sentido. As únicas comparações confiáveis ​​são aquelas com eleições realizadas sob sufrágio universal, das quais a primeira foi em 1929.) Trabalho, é verdade, teve uma proporção menor de votos em 1983 e 1987, mas em ambas as ocasiões conquistou significativamente mais cadeiras. Em 1935, o Partido Trabalhista ganhou proporcionalmente apenas mais algumas cadeiras, mas teve uma porcentagem muito maior na votação. Este ano, a diferença entre as duas partes e performances rsquo foi extraordinária. Trezentos e treze parlamentares trabalhistas foram eleitos com mais de 50 por cento dos votos expressos em seus constituintes, 44 (incluindo Tony Blair e John Prescott) foram eleitos com mais de 70 por cento e dois com mais de 80 por cento. Em contraste, apenas 14 conservadores conquistaram mais de 50% dos votos expressos. O conservador mais bem-sucedido, John Major em Huntingdon, recebeu 55,3% dos votos: o candidato trabalhista mais bem-sucedido, Benton em Bootle, 82,8%. O que é impressionante é como poucos parlamentares dos centros conservadores nos distritos distritais suburbanizados do Sul e da Ânglia Oriental conseguiram obter 50% dos votos.

É comum comparar esse resultado com 1945, mas os dois não são tão semelhantes. O trabalho provavelmente se saiu melhor do que em 1945 e os conservadores certamente se saíram pior. Os trabalhistas conquistaram proporcionalmente mais cadeiras em 1997 do que em 1945 e sua liderança em votos foi maior: em 1945, estavam 8,5% à frente dos conservadores neste ano, quase 13%. Não obteve uma proporção tão alta de votos quanto em 1945, mas isso provavelmente é enganoso. Um índice melhor é o tamanho dos votos dos Trabalhistas & rsquos & lsquopreferred & rsquo: que porcentagem dos eleitores votaria nos Trabalhistas se todos fossem obrigados a escolher apenas entre o Partido Conservador e o Partido Trabalhista. Deve haver considerável suposição ao estimar esse número, especialmente porque muitas pessoas provavelmente não gostariam de escolher entre as duas partes. Mas, se o fizessem, é provável que cerca de 54,5 por cento da população teria votado no Trabalhismo em 1945 e cerca de 56 por cento (ou mais) em 1997. O número de 1997 não tem igual na história do Labor & rsquos. Além disso, existem algumas diferenças importantes na configuração do voto trabalhista. Em 1945, por exemplo, os desempenhos mais fracos do Partido Trabalhista na Grã-Bretanha urbana foram em Liverpool e Greater Glasgow, porque o sectarismo ainda era um elemento dinâmico em suas políticas. Em 1997, os desempenhos mais fortes do Partido Trabalhista na Grã-Bretanha urbana foram em Liverpool e Greater Glasgow, principalmente porque o sectarismo havia deixado de ser dinâmico. E essa mudança não se limita à classe trabalhadora: todos nessas conurbações está mais inclinado a votar no Trabalho. Não há evidências de que a queda na participação tenha prejudicado os conservadores mais do que os trabalhistas, embora aponte para um desengajamento político mais amplo, particularmente em assentos trabalhistas seguros, que o sistema eleitoral atual nada faz para mitigar.

A extensão da derrota conservadora é inequívoca. Eles ganharam 48 cadeiras a menos do que em 1945 (embora, na verdade, mais de 48, já que o Commons de 1945 era ligeiramente menor do que o atual) e 8 por cento a menos do total de votos. Há duas razões para isso, além da mudança geral para o Trabalho. O primeiro é o sucesso dos democratas liberais na Inglaterra. Em 1945, seu predecessor, o antigo Partido Liberal, ganhou apenas seis cadeiras na Inglaterra e apenas 12 ao todo e o restante ficou no País de Gales. Este ano, no entanto, os liberais democratas conquistaram 34 cadeiras na Inglaterra, todas, com uma exceção, às custas dos conservadores. Além disso, em 1945, os liberais e seu eleitorado tendiam a ser mais simpáticos aos conservadores do que aos trabalhistas. Este ano, o inverso foi verdadeiro. A segunda razão é o colapso dos conservadores na Grã-Bretanha celta. Em 1945, por mais difícil que seja de acreditar, os conservadores e seus aliados conquistaram 30 cadeiras na Escócia, quatro no País de Gales e oito na Irlanda do Norte. Este ano, os conservadores não conquistaram nenhuma cadeira na Escócia e no País de Gales e há muito tempo se separaram dos sindicalistas do Ulster. Os liberais democratas e a franja celta transformaram, assim, o que, de qualquer modo, teria sido uma derrota pesada em um desastre.

Uma coisa que as duas eleições têm em comum, no entanto, é que seus resultados foram inesperados. Quase ninguém pensou que o Trabalhismo venceria em 1945 e, embora muitos pensassem que o Trabalhismo venceria este ano, quase ninguém previu (pelo menos publicamente) o deslizamento de terra, embora em ambos os casos tudo o que sabíamos apontasse para esse resultado. Cada pesquisa de opinião, cada eleição do governo local, cada euro-eleição, cada eleição parlamentar indicou este ano e o resultado rsquos. E não apenas o resultado geral: eles prefiguraram exatamente onde a virada para o Trabalhismo seria maior, mesmo aqueles constituintes, como Bristol West (assento de William Waldegrave & rsquos), onde o Trabalhismo viria do terceiro lugar para vencer. Por que estávamos tão prontos para desconsiderar esse peso avassalador de evidências? A resposta óbvia é 1992 & ndash uma vez mordido duas vezes tímido. Essa é uma boa razão, mas acho que existem duas melhores. A primeira é que o & lsquoidea & rsquo que está por trás do conservadorismo thatcherita e pós-Thatcher triunfou. Não é apenas o triunfo do mercado. A maneira como pensamos e descrevemos o mundo, o vocabulário que usamos, principalmente na vida pública, foi transformado nos últimos vinte anos. Este vocabulário pode ser autoparodiante ou absurdo & ndash e freqüentemente é & ndash, mas agora não tem competidor. Portanto, foi difícil para nós até mesmo imaginar que o veículo político dessa ideologia vitoriosa - precisamente por causa de sua vitória - pudesse ser derrotado. É aqui que 1997 difere mais de 1945. Embora as pessoas tenham ficado surpresas com a vitória do Trabalhismo em 1945, elas sabiam que a & lsquoidea & rsquo com a qual o Trabalhismo estava mais associado já havia vencido: a eleição simplesmente colocou o Parlamento em sintonia com o humor do país. Em 1997, aparentemente, não podemos confiar em tal explicação.

A segunda razão é que o Partido Conservador nunca foi feito para ser derrotado. Nenhum outro partido na história recente da Grã-Bretanha trabalhou tão arduamente para garantir a criação de um sistema político que não pudesse ser derrubado. O edifício colossal criado nos últimos 18 anos foi projetado para excluir toda competição política & ndash em parte persuadindo as pessoas de que nenhum outro partido era legítimo ou competente para governar, e em parte reestruturando o eleitorado e o sistema de governo de modo a excluir a competição. A maioria de nós estava ciente desse sistema e da maneira como funcionava - a eleição de 1992 foi um exemplo espetacular - e estávamos certos em ficar impressionados com ele. Menos óbvio, porém, foi a instabilidade que finalmente o derrubou em 1º de maio.

A derrota conservadora não foi o resultado da ERM fiasco & ndash isso foi apenas a ocasião & ndash, mas de tensões de longo prazo dentro da ideologia do Partido e do sistema político do país que no final reduziu sua hegemonia a pedaços. Quando Thatcher chegou ao poder em 1979, ela era uma deflacionista antiquada, seu & lsquomonetarismo & rsquo não tinha base teórica, mas servia apenas para justificar os baixos níveis de gastos do governo. Além disso, a retórica deflacionária & ndash corta impostos, promove empregos & lsquoreal & rsquo, restringe sindicatos, elimina o desperdício, encoraja a parcimônia e o trabalho duro & ndash era um elemento essencial de seu tipo de conservadorismo. A Sra. Thatcher não apenas acreditou, mas presumiu que o eleitorado também acreditava. Os primeiros anos de seu governo basearam-se, portanto, no pressuposto de que uma retórica deflacionária e políticas associadas mobilizariam por si mesmas o eleitorado. Este não era o caso. Costuma-se dizer como exemplo da Sra. Thatcher & rsquos & lsquocourage & rsquo que ela estava preparada para arriscar a impopularidade, até mesmo perder uma eleição, para preservar seus princípios. Ela teria sido um tipo estranho de política, se fosse assim. Ela estava determinada a vencer, mas seu governo descobriu que a única maneira de tornar o conservadorismo deflacionário aceitável para o eleitorado era encorajar um boom inflacionário cada vez mais. Este foi o primeiro paradoxo de Thatcher & rsquos: seu governo teve de seguir políticas que eram simultaneamente deflacionárias e inflacionárias. Mais do que qualquer outra coisa, foi esse paradoxo que tirou dos trilhos o conservadorismo thatcherista como sistema político.

Essa contradição política fundamental não poderia deixar de minar a consistência geral de propósito do governo. Mas o mesmo acontecia no nível da retórica. Retoricamente, a Sra. Thatcher e seus ministros não conseguiram decidir se o conservadorismo deveria ser & lsquoproducionista & rsquo ou & lsquoconsumpcionista & rsquo. No início, o governo era & lsquoproducionista & rsquo, assim como era deflacionário. O objetivo da política era reabilitar a economia britânica, especialmente o setor manufatureiro. Isso deveria ser feito pelas virtudes antiquadas: economia, trabalho árduo, uma restauração da autoridade administrativa, um reconhecimento de que você não pode ter algo por nada. Mas as virtudes antiquadas seguiam o mesmo caminho que a deflação, e pelo mesmo motivo: não eram muito populares. The Government&rsquos recourse was a &lsquoconsumptionist&rsquo boom made possible for a time by the receipts from North Sea oil. This was the Second Paradox: a &lsquoproductionist&rsquo rhetoric was made acceptable to the electorate by a consumption boom which violated all the old-fashioned virtues. So long as you were in the right place at the right time, you could have whatever you wanted with a minimum of effort &ndash which is how most of us will remember the Eighties. In practice, moreover, it was easier to encourage consumption than the old-fashioned virtues, and the notion of citizen as consumer fitted well with an ideology which attempted to depoliticise politics and transform the existing relation between the citizen and society: the citizen was to become a client, a customer, a purchaser &ndash everything but a citizen. Even so, the boom of the late Eighties which Nigel Lawson let rip (and which was once called an economic miracle) was defended on &lsquoproductionist&rsquo grounds, though only one thing was clear about the boom: that the British economy, far from being transformed, did not have the productive capacity to sustain it.

The two paradoxes had two &lsquosolutions&rsquo: the first was the recession of 1990-3, from which neither the Conservative Party nor the electorate has yet recovered the second was the fatal decision to enter the ERM at the highest rate against the mark. This decision tells us much about the nature of Mrs Thatcher&rsquos leadership of the Conservative Party. Her political instincts warned her that in directing such a fragile instrument as the British economy the Government needed full freedom of manoeuvre. But she was also a deflationist and the object of entering the ERM at the rate of 2.95 marks to the pound was undoubtedly deflationary. More important, the notion that membership of the ERM would show that we were &lsquoserious&rsquo about inflation was held by preponderant opinion in the Conservative Party, the Treasury, the City and the press. Whatever she thought privately, there was no question of her being able to resist. The whole episode suggests that Mrs Thatcher&rsquos authority was always exaggerated. She remained leader of the Party so long as her leadership was acceptable to the institutions and opinions which matter in the Conservative Party. When her leadership became unacceptable, because too risky, she was removed.

Sterling&rsquos brief membership of the ERM was undoubtedly a disaster for the Conservative Party, not only because the pound was humiliatingly driven out, but because no one, not a minister, not a civil servant, not an &lsquoadviser&rsquo, accepted responsibility for what had happened. Protecting the system was now what mattered most: to resign would be to admit error, and that would reflect badly on the system. This was not forgotten by the electorate: witness Norman Lamont&rsquos fate at the hands of the vengeful tactical voters of Harrogate. A hard fate perhaps, since he was one of those least keen on the ERM and one of those most happy when we left. It is only a pity that he spent such a sizable proportion of the national treasure trying to keep us in. The ERM affair had one other obvious consequence: it almost obliterated the widely-held view that the Conservative Party was &lsquocompetent&rsquo in a way other parties were not. This, in itself, might have been retrievable had it not been for the extent to which the Conservative hegemony was further undermined by three other irreparable contradictions in policy, similar to those which took us in and out of the ERM.

The first was privatisation. There was a strong &lsquoefficiency&rsquo argument for privatisation and a number of the state-owned concerns were unquestionably ripe for private ownership. Many members of the Government, not least Mrs Thatcher and her successor, believed in privatisation on ideological grounds and the argument of efficiency was the one they most often employed. Had this been the only argument they employed, privatisation might not have had such malign consequences for them. Unfortunately, they also believed that privatisation was a way of attaching ever larger proportions of the electorate to the Conservative Party. So was born that craze of the Eighties, &lsquopopular capitalism&rsquo. Popular capitalism was to be to the Conservatives as council housing was to Labour. It was to establish a huge clientele wedded to the Conservative Party by its ownership of shares in privatised state assets. To ensure that the clients purchased shares these assets were often underpriced and, in fact, shareholders lost as citizens and taxpayers as much as they gained as shareholders. But that was not a calculation most popular capitalists were expected to make. Furthermore, shareholding was to effect an intellectual conversion: to make people instinctively anti-socialist and hostile to the Labour Party.

In the long term, though probably not in the short, the attempt to create a popular capitalism failed. For one thing, popular capitalism and dynamic capitalism are almost antithetical. You cannot have both, though the Government would not admit it. For another, most people sold their shares almost immediately, with the result that the number of individual shareholders is today scarcely higher than it was in 1979. The real beneficiaries of privatisation have been the large institutions like pension funds &ndash and their managers, though immensely powerful, do not have many votes. What developed was a &lsquoculture of privatisation&rsquo which the Government largely created but in the end could not curb. Its most obvious manifestation was a general climate of enrichissezvous which affected much of the population but which in particular involved huge transfers to the bankers, lawyers, consultants and &lsquoadvisers&rsquo who handled the privatisation programmes. Significant elements of the British upper middle class not only did extraordinarily well out of privatisation: they had an interest in continuing privatisation. These transfers actually represented large payments by the taxpayer (to the extent that taxpayers were the original &lsquoowners&rsquo of the privatised assets), though it was some time before this was understood.

Privatisation on this scale, something no other country has attempted, swept up the Government and the country&rsquos senior managerial classes into a kind of euphoria. Not only were top marginal tax rates reduced to what were, by our standards, unimaginably low levels all the customary constraints on executive pay were abandoned, with the directors of the newly-privatised industries in the van. There is no doubt that this behaviour was deeply offensive to much of the electorate, even to those who had been a little euphoric themselves. It was partly that, as time went on, they were antagonised by changes in the distribution of taxation which markedly disfavoured them even more perhaps, a strong distaste developed for the money-grubbing of the country&rsquos economic élites &ndash a sense of money not being earned, of people helping themselves to public assets. It seems clear that to many the last stages of Conservative government must have seemed, as was said of Napoleon III&rsquos rule, not so much a regime as a racket. Major was genuinely dismayed at the behaviour of the boardrooms, but by now the Conservatives were in no position to stop it.

This did them great harm. We have long known that working-class Conservative voters &ndash traditionally the Party&rsquos largest single constituency &ndash have reasoned not just that the Conservatives were more fit to govern than anyone else but that they were more willing to guarantee &lsquofairness&rsquo. Unlike the Labour Party, which promoted vested interests (such as trade unions) at the expense of the wider community, the Conservatives stood for balance &ndash they held the ring to ensure that no one interest became dominant. This was no doubt a naive view, but plausible and historically the Conservatives have been careful to ensure that it remained plausible. After 1979, however, they could not and did not do so. &lsquoFairness&rsquo was part of the system they repudiated, since &lsquofairness&rsquo, a pre-occupation with the distribution of wealth rather than its accumulation, was one of those things which had brought Britain to its knees. As a result, the Thatcher and Major Governments were increasingly seen, even by the most naive, as &lsquounfair&rsquo. Just as the Left of the Labour Party in the early Eighties insisted on jettisoning those Labour traditions most acceptable to the electorate, so the Conservatives abandoned that prudence which was essential to their electoral success.

The 1997 election was the first in which the consequences of privatisation had become fully apparent. In 1992 the behaviour of the bosses of the privatised utilities and of the boardrooms more generally was not really an issue. Nor were the failings of the utilities. In the last five years, however, their failings have, if anything, been exaggerated in the public mind. In the old days people did not expect all that much from them because their managers received, so to speak, pay appropriate to the job. Today, when their operations are almost certainly more efficient, their peccadilloes are magnified in proportion to the incomes of their senior managers. Nor in 1992 was &lsquosleaze&rsquo among politicians much of an issue &ndash the word was rarely used. This year it was an issue even though the received wisdom during the campaign was that the electorate was not much moved. But the electorate clearly was very much moved, and it is a measure of the isolation of the country&rsquos political leaders that they did not see it.

The second of these contradictions was rhetorical and ideological. The ultimate ambition of Thatcherism was the restoration of authority to the country&rsquos sovereign institutions &ndash which in practice meant the Cabinet and the central bureaucracy. Its impulse was therefore authoritarian and anti-democratic. But Mrs Thatcher was unwilling to put it in those terms. Just as she was obliged to legitimate deflation by inflation, so she felt it necessary to justify authoritarian government by the rhetoric of &lsquoopenness&rsquo and &lsquoaccountability&rsquo. She never intended, of course, that openness was to apply to the executive &ndash quite the reverse. Openness and accountability were to be imposed on things she did not like. It was inevitable, however, that the Government and the Conservative Party would eventually be judged by the same criteria since Conservative leaders had never and could never publicly exempt the central government from what were supposed to be universal norms. Major got the worst of both worlds: he was unable to surround the doings of his Party with secrecy but got no credit for openness since his heart was seemingly not in it. The Government&rsquos behaviour towards the Scott Report was the best but not the only example of this.

At the centre of the Thatcher-Major Conservative Party&rsquos ideology lay a profound ambiguity of purpose which in retrospect will probably seem its most interesting feature. One powerful impulse behind Thatcherism was the notion of the new start. The old social system with its carefully graded hierarchies and political reticence, its apparent reluctance to disturb vested interests, its overall &lsquowetness&rsquo, was held to have failed the country and demeaned its status in the world. This gave Thatcherism a distinctly critical edge, a willingness to think and say radical things about our existing social arrangements. Mrs Thatcher, after all, described what she was doing as a &lsquorevolution&rsquo. For some, the revolution excited hopes of a thoroughgoing democratic reconstruction. But Thatcherism was also genuinely reactionary: it wished to restore legitimacy to the old hierarchies. Mrs Thatcher was herself hostile to many of the democratic changes that had occurred in her lifetime &ndash largely because they were associated with &lsquosocialism&rsquo. She thus created three hereditary peers (though only one had a male heir) and would, one suspects, have created more had she had the nerve she and her successor were adamant in their defence of the hereditary House of Lords the first act of the classless John Major was to bestow a baronetcy on Denis Thatcher, a title most people had forgotten existed both scattered political knighthoods around with profusion, and not just to keep the backbenchers docile the Thatcherite Conservative Party has been exceptionally reluctant to curb the privileges of the Royal Family they have done all they could to prop up the independent schools and denigrate the state sector they reversed the Conservatives&rsquo flirtation with Scottish devolution and defended the Union to the point of lunacy. By adopting the rhetoric of revolution and the new start Thatcher and Major thus did grave damage to the system they inherited and wished to restore, and incidentally did much to promote a democratic politics. Yet because their ambitions were fundamentally reactionary they were inevitably unable to exploit them. The unintended beneficiaries were Tony Blair and Paddy Ashdown. Yet again the Conservatives had the worst of both worlds.

What Thatcher and (especially) Major wanted to establish was a modernising democracy based on a mobile and meritocratic middle class who would provide the Conservative Party with an unassailable social base. They failed, as their predecessors in the Thirties and Fifties who wanted the same had failed, because their chosen instrument, the Conservative Party, was remarkably unsuited to the task, and because, in the end, their fear and dislike of &lsquosocialism&rsquo and a politicised working class much exceeded their contempt for the traditional ruling class. The result was that the Conservative Party could only promote a mutilated form of democracy and the field was left to the Labour Party. Whether Labour can rise to the occasion is an unanswerable question.

The third contradiction was in economic policy. One of the basic assumptions of Thatcherism was that the British managerial classes could be freed from artificially imposed constraints and so restored to international competitiveness. The miracle was seen as coming from within ourselves. There were some improvements but the overall outcome was undoubtedly disappointing: much of the managerial class, it turned out, was inherently uncompetitive. The Government was therefore increasingly inclined to put its wager on inward investment: success came to be measured by the quantity of overseas investment in Britain. And this investment was thought to depend on &lsquoflexible&rsquo labour markets and low labour costs. The pervasive sense of insecurity that was obviously a factor in the fall of the Conservative Government was one result, a sense which turned to anger when it became plain that low labour costs stopped at the boardroom. Nor did the Conservatives reflect on the curious evolution of their original endeavour. When Mrs Thatcher took office her aim was to transform Britain contra the rest of the world: when Mr Major left it the most avowed achievement of his government was to provide cheap labour for foreign businessmen.

How far changes in the Labour Party assisted the Conservative collapse is hard to assess. Obviously a Labour Party of 1983 vintage was unacceptable to the electorate. Here the role of Neil Kinnock is crucial. He could talk the language of the Left and so was able to make the Party see sense. He also rescued the Party electorally at a moment when it might have ceded its second place to the old Alliance. By 1992 Labour had largely recovered the ground lost since 1979, though Kinnock never got much credit for this. Labour owes one other debt to him: he lost the 1992 election &ndash one of the few pieces of genuine good luck the Labour Party has ever had. Tony Blair&rsquos part is open to several interpretations. One is that he was the icing on the cake, that he reduced to zero the apparent risks of voting Labour. There is truth in this, but it is not the whole truth. His personality and manner were clearly attractive to people, and that mobilised some voters who were attracted neither by Kinnock nor by John Smith. Possibly more important, however, was New Labour&rsquos attraction for women voters. Not widely noticed, except by the Labour Party, was the most remarkable feature of the election: that the proportion of women who voted Labour was almost identical to that of men. The importance of this to Labour cannot be exaggerated. Historically, Labour has been much less successful than the Conservatives in mobilising women voters and the Conservatives have been more successful in mobilising women than Labour has been in mobilising men. The reason for the Conservatives&rsquo success after 1951, for example, was that their lead among women exceeded Labour&rsquos lead among men. But all British parties are vulnerable somewhere: the Liberal Democrats found it difficult to find a stable social and regional base Labour has been overdependent on unionised males who work in heavy industry and the Conservatives overdependent on women voters politically conditioned by circumstances which are rapidly disappearing. By breaking decisively with the political culture of the trade unions, with the masculine aggression and exclusivity which many women &ndash not least working-class women &ndash have found very off-putting, Blair made the Labour Party much more acceptable to women voters &ndash a fact that could have profound implications.

This story has many lessons for both major parties, but a couple stand out. Before the election I suggested that the &lsquotabloid culture&rsquo to which the Conservatives, and Labour to some extent, slavishly capitulated was weaker than they thought. The election does not necessarily confirm this view but certainly lends it support. The electorate proved wholly indifferent to the race, gender, marital status or sexual orientation of Labour candidates, even where these were thought to be an issue. And the attempt by some Conservatives to work up an anti-immigration vote was a miserable failure: perhaps not surprising in a country to which there is now almost no primary migration &ndash something they might have remembered. Aligned to the apparent weakness of tabloidism is the Conservative Party&rsquos collapse among the &lsquoeducated classes&rsquo. The great majority of those with university degrees no longer vote Conservative. Whole professions &ndash lawyers, doctors, teachers (at all levels) research scientists (public and private), for example &ndash which were once predominantly or significantly Conservative are now Labour-Liberal Democrat (and more Labour than Liberal Democrat): a change almost as important as the change in the women&rsquos vote. It is important because the &lsquoeducated class&rsquo is growing faster than any other and is by training or inclination hostile to the Conservative Party&rsquos traditional &lsquotabloid culture&rsquo. Furthermore, some of these professions, like doctors and lawyers, have great social influence. The persistent opposition of the BMA, for instance, to the Government&rsquos reforms of the NHS did great harm to the Conservative Party &ndash and will do the same to Labour if the Blair Government abandons Labour&rsquos traditional policies towards the NHS. If the Conservative Party (and Labour) accept that tabloidism is not invincible then the country might in future be spared some of the more shameful episodes of the last few years &ndash like Michael Howard&rsquos tenure of the Home Office &ndash and the Conservative Party could regain some of its traditional support.

The other lesson both parties will be reluctant to learn. The size of the Conservative defeat suggests that the electorate was much more fed up with the system than New Labour thought it was. As Seumas Milne pointed out here (LRB, 5 June), the British electorate remains stubbornly attached to the welfare state and public provision. Indeed, throughout the English-speaking world, where market politics has been most successful, such politics has always been more of an affair of the political and economic élites than of the wider electorate. Everywhere unmandated politicians forced through programmes which the electorate had willy-nilly to swallow. In New Zealand, where the electorate has swallowed more than anywhere else, a popular revolt forced through a change in the electoral system (from first-past-the-post) precisely to stop politicians doing this. In so far as New Labour&rsquos policies were dictated by extreme caution, the Government almost certainly has more freedom than it expected. Both the results and the exit polls strongly imply that voters do want more money spent and are even resigned to the extra taxation which might be necessary. On their side, the Conservatives must learn that the attempt to follow simultaneously self-contradictory policies &ndash to legitimise a &lsquorevolution&rsquo by anything but revolutionary means &ndash must fail. Nor is it possible indefinitely to convince people that society is as the Conservative Party describes it. Reality will reassert itself and has a habit of doing so in nasty ways &ndash it can lose you your seat and even the leadership of your party, or in the case of Michael Portillo, both. The election of William Hague to the Conservative leadership, though doubtless in part a result of personal animosities, does not, however, suggest that the Conservatives are ready to learn those lessons.


General Election 1997 - Gender, Age, Ethnicity and Region

Let's explore key aspects of gender, age, ethnicity and region in so far as they relate to the General Election of 1997.

The exit poll data provides further information about voting behaviour by a range of other demographic characteristics. There are interesting features of voting behaviour by gender, age, ethnicity and region from the 1997 election.

There was, unsurprisingly, a swing to Labour in both genders and there was little difference in the final result (Men: 45% Lab, 31% Con Women: 44% Lab, 32% Con). However, the larger increase in the Labour vote was among women, increasing by 10 points rather than 8. This was partly because there had been a trend in the past for women to vote Conservative more than men.

There are a number of theories as to why women swung to Labour in 97. One is the increase of women working, and particularly working in the public sector. Another (slightly controversial!) one is that Tony Blair was more attractive than John Major. Another was that one factor in the Conservative lead among women was Margaret Thatcher and, as more time passed since her premiership, her impact lessened. Whatever the reason, the Conservative’s advantage with women voters was cancelled out.

The Labour vote increased among all age groups (as might be expected in an election with such a significant swing) but there was a much larger increase among younger voters than older voters. While the Labour vote increased by 12 points for 25-34 year olds and 35-44 year olds, it only increased by 4 points for 55-64 year olds. The 45-54 age bracket saw the biggest collapse of the conservative vote (down 16 points). While Labour were ahead in every age bracket (an unusual result indeed!) this was by a relatively narrow margin for 55-64 and 65+ voters, while all other age brackets had differences in double figures, and the lead for those under 45 was over 20 points. Very nearly half of 18-44 year olds voted Labour, compared with 44% overall (according to the exit poll).

Putting some of this data together, the largest increase for Labour appears to be among young women on low incomes and the largest collapse for the Conservatives among middle-aged, middle-class men and women.

Again, Labour led in all ethnicity categories in the published exit poll, but while this was only a 10 point lead for white voters, it was much larger among minority-ethnic groups. 82% of black voters voted Labour, for instance (compared with 12% for the conservatives). We do not have the data to compare this with 1992, but certainly Labour scoring highly with minority-ethnic voters is a long-term trend rather than a quirk of the 1997 election. There are many reasons for this, including the socio-economic background of some minority-ethnic groups, parties’ historic attitudes to race, immigration and race equality legislation, etc. The data probably disguises some trends, with Asian voters preferring Labour (66%) to Conservative (22%) but breaking the data down further into Indian, Pakistani, etc. or by religion could reveal some further differences.

Traditionally Labour had been strong in Scotland and Wales and the north of England with the Conservatives getting significant support in the south of England, in particular (with some exceptions, such as Labour strength in London and Conservative strength in very rural areas of the north). At first glance, the 1997 election appears to continue that pattern. Labour’s strongest performances came in the North, Wales, the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, closely followed by London, the West and East Midlands and Scotland. The Conservatives’ worst performances were in Scotland and Wales and they performed most strongly in the South East, East Anglia and the South West. In East Anglia, the South West and the South East the Conservatives got more votes than Labour (although this was only by 1 point in East Anglia).

However, these quite predictable results disguise some interesting regional trends. First, Labour gained and the Conservative vote fell in every UK region. The biggest Conservative collapse was in London where they dropped 14 points. The next biggest, despite their lead, was in the South East with a 13-point drop. These (alongside the northern region) were also the sites of Labour’s biggest vote increases. There were much less dramatic changes in Wales, where Labour was already very strong and the Conservatives relatively weak. Other factors that influenced the results were the strength of third parties, particularly in the South West (the Liberal Democrats) and Scotland (the SNP). In both cases the “third” party came second, with the Liberal Democrats getting more votes than Labour in the South West and the SNP getting more votes than the Conservatives in Scotland.


First Past the Post

The British electoral system is based on the “First-Past-The-Post” (FPTP) system. In recent years, reforms have occurred in places such as Northern Ireland where a form of proportional representation has been used in elections and in the devolution elections surrounding Scotland and Wales. However, for the most part, Britain has used the tried and tested FPTP sistema.

In the past, this system and the whole structure of elections, created absurd anomalies with the existence of “rotten boroughs” such as Old Sarum, Dunwich and Gatton. Old Sarum was by local reckoning “one man, two cows and a field” and yet returned two MP’s to Westminster! Gatton, a village in Surrey, returned one MP yet had just one voter in it.

The 1832, 1867 and 1884 Reform Acts changed a lot of the more absurd abuses that surrounded the electoral system so vividly described by Charles Dickens in “Pickwick Papers”. However, the principle of FPTP was kept.

What is FPTP and what are the arguments for it?

In a ‘normal’ British national election or by-election (i.e. excluding the newer formats that have been used in recent regional elections for devolution), those who wish to fight an election register to do so. When the election takes place, for example a by-election for a constituency MP for Westminster, the person who wins the highest number of votes within that constituency, wins that election. FPTP is as clear and as brutal as that. Only in the very rarest of cases has a re-count been ordered due to the closeness of that specific result, but in the vast majority of cases, FPTP allows for a clear winner.

As an example a by-election for the constituency of Make-Up. The three main candidates are from the three most prominent national parties. The result is as follows :

Candidate A (Labour) : 22,000 votes
Candidate B (Tory) : 17,000 votes
Candidate C (Lib Dems) : 13,000 votes

In this example, the clear winner is candidate A with a majority over Candidate B of 5,000. FPTP is a cheap and simple way to hold an election as each voter only has to place one cross on the ballot paper. Counting of the ballot papers is usually fast and the result of a British general election is usually known the very next day after polling. Ballot papers are usually simple (though they can drift towards being confusing if the number of candidates is large) and the voter only needs to put one clear mark on their paper which should be easily counted thus removing the prospect of the confusion that haunted the American 2000 election which degenerated into “when is a mark not a mark ?”

The speed of the process usually allows for a new government to take over power swiftly or if the incumbent government wins the general election, allows for a swift return for the continuation of government without too many disruptions to the political life of the nation.

FPTP has created within Great Britain a political system that is essentially stable as politics is dominated by just two parties. The chaos of the political systems of Italy and Israel is avoided using FPTP. Minority governments have occurred in the UK using FPTP, but the life span of those governments was limited. In recent years, governments have been strong as a result of the clear mandate given to it using the FPTP system.

In a constituency, one MP is elected and therefore, the people of that constituency will know who to ask or pursue if they have a query etc. In a multi-member constituency, in which a number of parties are represented, this would not be as easy.

As the above example shows, FPTP questions the whole issue of “democratic elections” in that the majority will of the people within one constituency may be reflected in the electoral outcome. But in overall terms, if more people vote against a candidate than for him/her, is this democratic in terms of popular representation in Westminster?

In the example above, 22,000 voted for the candidate that won that election but 30,000 voted against the winner. In recent years, national or by-elections have frequently thrown up the instance of the winner having more people vote against him/her. Therefore, that victor cannot claim to have the majority support of the people within the whole constituency concerned. Therefore, the total popular mandate for the winner does not exist. A counter-argument against this is that one of the over-riding beliefs in democracy is that the winner should be accepted by all and the losers should have their concerns listened to by the victorious party.

The same is true at a national level. If the national government does not have the majority of the nation behind it (as expressed in the final votes for that government) it cannot claim to truly represent the people of that nation. In 1951 (Tory) and in February 1974 (Labour), the nation voted in governments that had less people vote for them but won more seats than their opponents. Neither government could claim to truly represent “the people”.

In the 1997 election, the victorious Labour Party gained 43.2% of the total votes cast and won 63.6% of seats at Westminster. The combined number of votes for the Tory and Liberal Democrats represented 47.5% of the total votes (nearly 4% more than Labour) yet between them they got 32.1% of the seats available at Westminster.

In the 2001 election, Labour got 43% of the total popular vote whereas all the other parties got 57% – yet Labour maintained its very powerful position in Parliament with 413 MP’s out of 659. The same trend was seen with the 2005 election result.

It can be claimed that such a percentage of votes should not have given Labour such large Parliamentary majorities – but the workings of the FPTP system allows for just such an occurrence. In fact, no government since 1935 has had a majority of public support as expressed through votes cast at a national election.

Lord Hailsham once referred to this system as an “elective dictatorship” in that a powerful government can be created with overwhelming Parliamentary power which can usually push through its required legislation – but with only a minority of the country supporting it.

An argument put forward against FPTP is that it might put people off of voting in an election for a minority party as they know that their vote will be wasted. This discriminates against minority parties who will lose out as a consequence of this. It is possible that minority parties might have greater political support than their election figures show.

FPTP has discriminated against the Parliamentary power of the Liberal Democrats at national elections. Both the Tories and Labour have benefited from the system.

At the 1997 national election, the Liberal Democrats gained 16.8% of the votes but only got 46 seats. The Tories gained 30.7% of the votes but gained 165 seats. Labour won 43.2% of the votes and gained 419 seats. At a proportionate level, the Liberal Democrats should have got around 106 seats in Westminster if their representation was based on similar support for the Labour Party.

In the 2001 election, the Lib Dems got 52 seats and 19% of the total votes cast. Using the most basic form of proportional representation, 19% of votes cast would equate to about 120 seats in Parliament.

The continuation of the FPTP system can only favour the Tory and Labour parties and work against the Liberal Democrats – so it is argued.

In polls carried out between 1999 and 2000, more than 60% of the people asked claimed that they would favour a system of proportional representation (PR) to make the electoral system more fair and the results more representative. But would a party in power that benefits from such a system introduce something that could only damage its own political power?


Be nice to people on the way up, as you’ll meet them on the way down.

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‘Occasionally late at night at a Labour Party conference … the cry can still be heard. “Where,” a plaintive, maudlin voice will ask, “did it all go wrong?”’

So wrote the future New Statesman editor Anthony Howard in 1963. Then a rising star of political journalism, Howard had a confident answer to this melancholic cry - things went wrong for Labour on 26 July 1945, the day the party was elected to power on a landslide. Surprisingly, perhaps, for modern readers, the reputation of Clement Attlee’s government at that time was pretty poor. So far as many Labour party activists were concerned, Attlee’s was a record defined by compromises, lost opportunities and what was by the early 1960s an apparently unending period of Conservative rule.

Or perhaps it should not surprise. It is now 20 years since Tony Blair led Labour to another of the party’s rare landslide victories. And it is striking how this disregard for Attlee’s achievements finds an echo in how Jeremy Corbyn supporters regard the government elected on 1 May 1997. Some even believe Labour’s present troubles began on the fateful day Blair entered Number 10. As poet Michael Rosen has put it, since 1997 it has all been downhill, the Blairites having lost Labour over five million votes. According to the Corbynites, Labour will only recover once it rediscovers its pre-Blairite "socialist" self and puts 1997 behind it.

If a majority view amongst its members, the party’s few avowed Blairites naturally look on matters differently. Labour in 1997 after all enjoyed a 10.2 per cent swing from the Conservatives and won its biggest ever Commons majority, laying the foundations for an unprecedented 13 years in office. This was, according to columnist John Rentoul, because Labour discovered "the eternal verities of the Blairite truth". If matters subsequently went awry, it was only because Labour cast this truth aside by abandoning the centre ground. If the party is to revive, such Blairites believe it needs to return to the strategy that gave it 1997.

Such dichotomous views reflect the entrenched ideological positions in a party both deadlocked and in decline. As a historian of the Labour party and curator of an exhibition marking the 20 th anniversary of the election I have my own thoughts as to which lessons the party should draw from 1997. They are ones neither side in the party may find of great comfort.

1. Winning involves waiting

The most depressing lesson for the party is that Labour only wins a working Commons majority after a prolonged period of Conservative rule. True of Blair in 1997, it is equally so of Attlee in 1945 and Harold Wilson in 1966. If there is any good news for Labour in this, it is that the Conservatives have already been in office for seven years the bad news however is they’re probably less than halfway through their term.

2. Trouble for Conservatives ≠ Labour victory

But if all Conservative governments eventually come to an end, a long-serving Tory administration – even one in deep trouble - is only a precondition for a Labour victory, not its guarantee. Facing a divided Conservative party in office for 13 years, in 1992 Neil Kinnock expected to win. The country was after all in the midst of a recession and John Major’s government was divided over Europe. Yet Labour lost because those whose votes the party needed to win still felt the party was a worse bet than the Conservatives.

3. Offer hope - and reassurance

To win, Labour needs to primarily reassure voters while also offering them some hope. Hope without reassurance does not work. That was why Blair closed down what was traditionally the Conservatives’ most effective avenue of attack on Labour by, most famously, promising to not raise the top rate of tax. So when Central Office warned: "Britain is Booming. Don’t Let Labour Blow It", the slogan had little impact (a similar warning about "Labour’s Tax Bombshell" helped sink Kinnock). This meant that, having lost in 1992 in the midst of a recession, in 1997 Labour paradoxically won during a period of economic growth. But Labour also promised "Things Can Only get Better", that schools and hospitals would improve, while the young unemployment be helped into work. Gordon Brown, the New Labour Chancellor, called Labour’s approach "prudence with a purpose", although it was prudence rather than its purpose the party emphasised in 1997.

4. Know what victory is for

In 1997, Blair pursued one of the most cautious electoral strategies in living memory, one that met with spectacular success. But this led to caution in office. "We have been elected as New Labour," Blair declared, "And we will govern as New Labour." However, even those closest to the new Prime Minister hoped the strategy that underpinned 1997 was part of a process rather than an end in itself.

Writing in 2005, Peter Hyman, who advised and wrote speeches for Blair, argued Labour no longer needed to reassure voters and should start to actively create a "modern social democratic country" by arguing for higher taxes as well as for greater tolerance for minorities and more opportunity for those denied it. Blair had however created a prison for himself. He feared the electoral consequences of such a departure from the strategy that brought him his landslide. So, by the time Labour said it would raise the top rate of tax, it was to help pay for the bailing out of those banks which nearly collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis.

5. Neglect breeds enemies

Be nice to people on the way up, as you’ll meet them on the way down when your victories eventually give way to defeat. In the run up to 1997, Blair took the party with him, but only because he looked like a winner and Labour had been out of office for so long. If nearly 60 per cent backed Blair as leader in 1994 and a similar proportion endorsed his 1995 revision of Clause IV, many retained serious reservations. But instead of trying to keep the party on board, Blair urged the horses ever onwards. Like all Labour Prime Ministers before him, he ignored what was happening outside Westminster and Whitehall, in the constituency parties.

As Hyman argued in 2005: "We have to build a grassroots movement that will sustain New Labour in the long term. We have to use our powers of persuasion." But this was something Blair never seriously contemplated and nor did Brown. Jeremy Corbyn is the greatest beneficiary of this neglect.

6. Just surviving brings rewards

Time is a great healer. A recent YouGov poll revealed that Labour members’ favourite party leader is Clement Attlee. Even supporters of Jeremy Corbyn put Attlee second – after Corbyn. By 2017, the 1945 Labour government had become a thing of myth. Only its achievements, principally the National Health Service, are ever recalled.

Attlee started to come into fashion with the left in the 1980s. Overlooking how his 1940s counterparts attacked it for its moderation, Labour's in-house radical Tony Benn compared the party’s 1983 manifesto with the "openly socialist policy" put to the country in 1945. It might seem unlikely just now, but when Blair is long dead and nobody alive can remember 1 May 1997, some Labour radicals might find themselves invoking the "spirit of 97" and lauding the minimum wage, Sure Start and the £5bn windfall tax on utility companies that helped the long-term unemployed back into work. If Labour still exists then.

Steven Fielding is a professor of political history. He curated the 'New Dawn? The 1997 general election' exhibition, running at the People’s History Museum in Manchester between 25 March and 4 June 2017. Associated with the exhibition is the @newdawn1997 Twitter feed which reconstructs the 1997 campaign day-by-day.


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