The 1997 Election

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  • the 1997 election
    • the election
      • after 18 years in power the Cons. were heavily defeated
      • Blair's party won a majority of 178 - more than Thatcher in 1983
      • Major resigned as Cons. leader soon after
      • the Cons. had no seats at all in Wales or Scotland
    • reasons for the result
      • Cons. splits over Europe
        • July 1993 Eurorebels block attempt to ratify Maas. Treaty & forced vote of confidence in Major's govt. to pass it
        • divisions continued as eurosceptics rebelled increasingly vocally
          • Europhiles - Kenneth Clarke & Chris Patten
          • Eurosceptics - Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Portillo & John Redwood
      • sleaze & scandal
        • 'Back to Basics' campaign of moral improvement
        • in Tatton, Martin Bell's campaign for clean politics against N. Hamilton dominated
          • Lab. & Lib Dems didn't run candidates so spotlight fully on Cons.
      • memories of 'Black Wednesday'
        • lost Cons. reputation of being good with the economy / being financially responsible
        • longer term - economic boom (inherited by Blair)
        • however, Lab. gained 15% in polls
        • eurpsceptics arguments strengthened
        • Britian's case for closer integration damaged
      • attitude of national press
        • in the past Cons. had enjoyed greater support from national press
          • e.g.  negative coverage of Kinnock's 1992 campaign
        • Blair's press secretary (Campbell) used experience as former journalist to forge new relationship with the press
        • Lab. campaign run by v. effective 'spin machine'
          • v. effective with press & media
        • Mandelson v. effective in coherent messaging & writing public statements
      • Lab's discipline & organisation
        • organisation & new policies meant Tory tactic of frightening voters from 'socialist extremism' no longer effective
        • Tories claimed Lab. had 'stolen Cons. policies'
      • Lab's policy messages
        • rewrite Clause IV - popular
        • dropped socialist ideas
        • worked to remove image of 'tax & spend' party
          • promised to follow Cons. economic policies
        • rebranded 'New Labour'
        • ministers always 'on message' in the media
      • Blair's leadership
        • skilful communicator
        • presented air of moderation & won over 'Middle England'
        • attractive to youth & women
        • Lab. chose modern pop song 'Things can only get better' as 1997 campaign theme
        • Blair's Babes
      • anti-Cons. tactical voting
        • Enfield - unheard of Lab. candidate beat Cons. 'big beast' Portillo
        • Lab. voters voted Lib Dem in order to maximise anti-Cons. vote
    • Blair's first term
      • made BoE independent of the govt
        • the Bank would now set interest rates not the govt.
        • idea copied from Germany
      • continued economic growth
        • longest in post-war history
        • UK had the highest rate of economic growth in Europe 1997 - 2007
      • decided not to join the Euro due to opposition from Brown
      • introduced limited self-rule (devolution) for Scotland & Wales
      • continued the peace process in NI (begun by Major) reaching lasting peace agreement 1998
      • set up a Northern Ireland Assembly & power sharing govt. in NI
      • abolished hereditary peers in the HoL


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