Decline of te Conservatives

HideShow resource information

Why Major won in 1992

(a)Majors election campaign – was very effective. He deliberately rejected modern campaign methods such as rallies and carried a ‘soap box’ to various towns to make personal speeches. Although he was often heckled he gained credit

(b)Labours campaign was a disaster. Kinnock appeared ‘triumphalist’ as if the election was won already. On one famous occasion at a giant Labour rally in Sheffield he gave an embarrassing performance which lost Labour credibility. Then Labours Shadow  Chancellor John Smith made a disastrous commitment to raise taxes on the better off. This alienated many middle class voters

(c) The Conservative press played an important role – especially the mass circulation ‘Sun’ which launched series of attacks on Kinnock 

(d) The opinion polls swung back towards the Conservatives during the campaign and one reason shown by ‘exit polls’ taken after people had voted was that they did not trust Labour with the economy and still thought that the Conservatives were the most likely to end the recession.

1 of 5

the collapse of the Conservative Party 1992-97

  • IDEOLOGICAL CIVIL WAR 1992 – 97 - At first it seemed that Thatcherism would continue -- The Queens speech of 1992 included many Thatcherite ideas – privatising coal, privatising railways, tough on law and order, a right wing approach to health, education and housing which would give schools and hospitals more freedom from state interference. Many of these policies were put into effect.Yet – Major’s government was torn apart by a civil war between -- (a)The Thatcherites led by Thatcher herself but including prominent government Ministers like Portillo, Redwood, Lilley. (b)The ‘One Nation’ Conservatives like Clark, Heseltine.
  • ERM AND BLACK WEDNESDAY - tied value of £ to EU currencies - too close to EU
  • THE MAASTRICHT TREATY 1991 - 26 voted against the Paving Bill and it only got through by 319 votes to 313. Thatcherites now saw Europe as a rallying point to reclaim the party
  • THE LEADERSHIP ELECTION OF 1995 - won against Redwood 218 to 89, but main issue was attitudes towards EU, seen as weak and humilated
  • THE FAILURE OF KEY POLICIES - neither the Citizens Charter no Back to Basics worked
  • SCANDALS - sex scandals brought down 2 Cabinet Ministers – David Mellor and Tim Yeo, Cosnervatives were a laughing stock
  • LABOUR AND TONY BLAIR - Blair elected as leader of Party in 1994, completely reformed Labour
2 of 5

How Blair changed the Labour Party

  • Changing Ideas
    • (a)The free market stayed as it worked.(b) the new flexible working practices introduced by Thatcher worked (c)the control of the Unions had also worked (d) the sale of council houses had been popular(d)the reduction of taxes was very popular 
  • Style
    • Blair also adopted a more relaxed and less formal leadership style (‘Tony’) 
    • He greatly increased discipline inside the Labour party insisting that all MPS and candidate were ‘on message’ and following his ideas.
    • Peter Mandelson and Bryan Gould reshaped the organisation of the party and made it a smoothly running machine.
    • Press secretary Alistair Campbell - a new relationship with the press and media putting a massive emphasis on ‘presentation’ to get Labours ideas across eg the Sun newspaper switched to supporting Labour!
  • Appeal
  • By emphasising that there would be no tax rises or return to massive state spending Blair reached out to capture the middle class vote. He realised that as manufacturing in Britain shrank Labour could no longer rely on its old working class supporters. The middle class were now the majority and they had done well under Thatcher.
3 of 5

Blair's successes

  • Political dominance
    • Skilful use of the media - Alistair Campbell, labelled Diana 'The People's Princess'
    • changing Labour's ideology - 'Third Way' - not reversing T's achievements, getting rid of harsher Thatcherite ideas e.g. N/S divide, valuing trad. Labor ideas e.g. NHS and education
    • Won 3 general elections
  • Economy - refused to allow(a) lavish spending or (b)any increase in taxes – or at least income taxes  - even for the well off (c) Thatcher’s changes to TU law were kept in place even though Labour was traditionally more favourable to them. Their influence remained low (d) a priority on keeping inflation low was kept. Increased amount spent on each pupil by 50%, doubled spending on NHS, teachers given 18% pay rise, unmemployment went down to 5.5%
  • Constitutional Reform - (A) devolution = both Scotland and Wales were given their own Assemblies or parliaments in Edinburgh and Cardiff - a referendum in each country to allow the people to decide yes or no. Both voted yes in 1997. (B) House of Lords = membership was reformed 1999, removed all but 92 of the traditional 'hereditary peers'
  • Northern Ireland - By 1998 the 'Good Friday Agreement' was signed. The IRA agreed to 'decommission' their weapons and in return their members were released from prison. 
  • Foreign Policy Successes - managed to rebuild the special relationship with the USA because of his close personal relationship with the President Bill Clinton
4 of 5

Blair's failures

  • Reforms failed - spent huge amounts on health & ed. but little improvements were made. did little to narrow the gap between the rich and poor, did not fully carry out constitutional reforms
  • Ecnomic mistakes after 2001 - after the election he reverted to Old Labours ' tax and spend' bad habits. The massive increase in public spending in health and education was paid for by increases in taxes. Led to banking crisis of 2008.
  • Iraq - Blair sent in forces to help USA however wrecked UK, The David Kelly Affair - that the ministry always knew that there were no weapons of mass destruction. This resulted in Kelly committing suicide which damaged Blair's reputation for honesty and saw his popularity drop.
  • The Conservative revival - David Cameron promised new direction for the Party, gave the Party a new logo, rebranding the ideas if the party as being 'inclusive' and 'tolerant'.
  • Labours divisions - Blair and Brown both wanted to be PM, agreed that Blair would run for a time then step down and Brown would run but never specified when it would happen. Blair was too successful and did not step down. in 2007 Blair resigned and was replaced by Brown.
5 of 5

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Modern Britain - 19th century onwards resources »