Monday, 4 May 2009

The 1979 General Election - 30 years on

It has been said many times that the Conservative victory (under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher) in the General Election held on the 3 May 1979 marked the end of an era in British politics, and the dawn of a new age, and there has been much comment on it.

I want to comment on just one aspect of it - the fact that the Labour Party, under James Callaghan received more votes (11,532,218) in that election that it did under the leadership of Tony Blair in either the 2001 election (10,724,953) or the 2005 election (9,562,122) - this despite the fact that the electorate was larger in the latter two elections than it was in 1979.

In other words, Mr. Callaghan was a more successful leader, in terms of attracting voters, than Mr. Blair was in 2001 and 2005. (It was a different story in 1997, when Labour received a remarkable total of 13,518,167 votes.)

Or, to put it another way, Labour didn’t win the last two General Elections - the Conservatives lost them. And even the Liberal Democrats, who are reckoned to have had a very successful election, fell short of their total number of votes in 1992, and well short of the totals achieved by the SDP/Liberal Alliance in 1983 and 1987. They even fell short of the number of votes the Liberal Party received in February 1974.

The reason is, of course that the last two General Elections saw turnout falling from around 75% (rough average 1970-97) to 60%. Which means that 20% of people who would normally vote, didn’t bother. And I suspect the reason for that is total disillusionment with both main parties.

I hope that a lot of those people will be looking at LPUK and its policies over the next few years, and like me, seeing that this is a party that offers something a lot better.


patently said...

Of course, similar things happened in 1983, 1987 and 1992 with the longest suicide note in history, "Kinnock: The Movie" and the Sheffield Rally.

There must surely be an effect that an incumbent government will have irritated those who disagree with it and merely placated those that agree with it. So those who want a change are going to be more motivated to vote, and hence an Opposition must have a form of advantage - which is there for them to throw away if they choose.

Young Mr. Brown said...

Yes, absolutely. Especially in 1983. But, interestingly, Labour actually got more votes in their 1983 disaster than the Tories did in 2001.

As for the 'advantage of the Opposition' here is an interesting trivia question.

Who was the most successful Conservative leader in recent history - in terms of getting votes, and at which election?

Answer: John Major - 1992 - 14,093,007 votes.

Yes, it surprised me too.

And no, I can't account for it!

Jonny Newton said...

Does that make him the most successful leader at getting votes of any political party in the UK ever?

Young Mr. Brown said...

Yes, I'm pretty sure it does.