Cover image for The British general election of 1997
The British general election of 1997
Butler, David, 1924-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire : MacMillan Press Ltd ; New York, N.Y. : St. Martin's Press, 1997.
Physical Description:
xii, 343 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 23 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JN956 .B8683 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This book provides an authorative, highly readable description and analysis of the background, the campaign and the results of the British general election of 1997, and outlines the consequences of Labour's victory. The dramatic events of 1992 to 1997 and their impact on the party's preparations are analyzed. Close observation of the party headquarters is used to explore each party's strategic decisions and the implementation. The battle in the constituencies and in the media is examined. The results are dissected in detail to assess how well the contestants played the hands dealt them. Illustrations and cartoons entertainingly illustrate the campaign trail and recapture the excitement of election night. 1997 saw campaigning at an altogether new level of sophistication. Direct mail, targeting, spin-doctoring and rapid rebuttal were used far more thoroughly than ever before. They may not have decided the result--but they crossed new frontiers. Elections will never be the same againin Britain.

Author Notes

David Butler is a Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford.

Dennis Kavanagh is a Professor of Politics at the University of Liverpool.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This is the fifteenth in a series of postwar electoral studies of Britain, almost all of which have been written by Butler, on some occasions assisted by Kavanagh. Some chapters are written by specialists on the press, the polls, and the candidates. The present work follows the lines of its predecessors in its authoritative and clear description of the background as well as detailed observation of the campaign and its results, with useful statistical tables and analysis of the voting. The early chapters provide short accounts of political developments from the last election in 1992 until 1997, an analysis of divisions in the Conservative government and party, and an explanation of the changes in Labour party policies and personnel that led to the "New Labour" slogan. The authors point out that the 1997 election marked the first major change in postwar election style since 1959, distinguished by sophisticated presentation, especially by Labour, in the constituencies and the press. That presentation included techniques such as direct mail, targeting of key voters in particular groups, spin doctors, quick rebuttal of the opposing side, and use of party workers experienced in the communications industries. The book, like its predecessors, is clearly written and will be useful for upper-division undergraduate and graduate students. M. Curtis Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick

Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Illustrations
List of Plates
The Transformation of British Politics: 1992-97
Conservatives in Disarray
The Road to New Labour
Liberal Democrats and Other Parties
The Long Campaign
Regaining Credit: The Opinion Polls
Politics on the AirMartin Harrison
Newspapers RealignedMargaret Scammell
Candidates Old and NewByron Criddle
The Local Battle
The Campaign Reconsidered: A Critical Election?
Appendix 1 The Voting Statistics
Appendix 2 Anatomy of a Landslide: The Results AnalysedJohn Curtice and Michael Steed
Select Bibliography