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The left after the general election

1st July 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1997

Labour’s 179 seat majority in parliament will not be taken by Tony Blair as a mandate for progressive social reform. Instead it is going to be used to impose the most right wing economic policy of any Labour government in history.

In the period between now and when the voters, trade unionists and party members start to realise this, Blair will use the good will he starts out with to move as fast as possible – starting at this year’s conference – to suppress the mechanisms whereby alternative policies could be expressed within the Labour Party.

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Votes on 1 May – a Tory collapse, not a Labour landslide

1st July 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1997

The 1 May general election did not simply close 18 years of Conservative government. It brought to an end an entire era in British politics – a 111 year-long political party system based on the dominance of the Conservative Party.

This assertion may cut against the grain of the media coverage – which has been mesmerised by the scale of Labour’s majority in parliament – but it nonetheless corresponds to the facts.

On 1 May Labour won its biggest parliamentary majority in history – an overall majority of 179 seats. But it did so with a share of the UK vote, at 43.2 per cent, which does not remotely qualify as record-breaking. The party won a larger proportion of the vote in 1945, 1950, 1951, 1955, 1959, 1964 and 1966 – that is, in every single general election between 1945 and 1966. That included three elections which it lost and Harold Wilson’s 44.1 per cent in 1964 which gave him a majority of just four seats.