The Fall and Rise of Tory England
and the Crisis of Labour
by Donald Adamson (11 Sept 2015)
As Ralph Miliband wrote: “There is a Tory way of carrying out Tory policies, and there is a Labour way of carrying out Tory policies.” Today we explore the scale and roots of the Labour crisis ahead of examining the new leaders victory over the weekend.
“The Conservative Party has dominated British politics to such an extent during the twentieth century that it is likely to become known as the ‘Conservative century’. Either standing alone or as the most powerful element in a coalition, the party will have held power for seventy of the hundred years since 1895.”– Anthony Seldon and Stuart Ball, 1994 (1)The main story of the 2015 UK general election was, undoubtedly, the remarkable victory of the SNP ending, as it did, Labour’s near 60-year dominance of UK general elections in Scotland. As significant as these developments in Scotland are, there is another (related) story to tell about the 2015 general election: the re-emergence of the Tories to electoral dominance in England in the twenty-first century after a brief period of being out of power. The other side of this story is the structural weakness of Labour in England, as this suggests, Labour’s weakness pre-dates 2015. But it is these two issues, together with the sea-change that has occurred in Scotland, which will shape the landscape of British politics for some time. More importantly, as the consequences of these developments are played out they will, in all likelihood, determine both the timing and the outcome of a second independence referendum. To make sense of these developments in England, though, it is helpful to start in the 1990s. There are two related issues here: first, the crisis of the Conservative Party after its victory in the 1992 general election, and second, the exceptionalism, in electoral terms, of New Labour.
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