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The Electoral System: Biased to Blair?

Parliamentary Affairs , Volume 54 (4) – Oct 1, 2001


Oxford University Press
Copyright © 2001 Oxford University Press
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The Electoral System: Biased to Blair?


BY JOHN CURTICE THE 2001 election result has been widely described as a second landslide Labour victory. This is hardly surprising. After all, Labour won just six seats fewer than their record tally of 419 in 1997. The party’s overall majority of 167 is greater than that enjoyed by any British government between 1945 and 1997. Yet if we look at the outcome of the 2001 election in terms of votes, Labour’s performance looks much less impressive. At 42.0%, the party’s share of the vote in Great Britain was lower than that enjoyed by any postwar British government apart from the two administrations formed by Harold Wilson after the elections in February and October 1974. Equally, at 9.3%, Labour’s lead over the Conservatives was less than that enjoyed by Clement Attlee in 1945 and by Margaret Thatcher in both 1983 and 1987. Yet none of those contests produced as large a majority for the winner as that enjoyed by Tony Blair. But perhaps the most telling comparison is with the outcome of the 1992 general election. At 42.8%, John Major’s share of the vote at that election was actually a little higher than that secured by Tony Blair
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