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Why did Labour win the 2001 election?

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Why did Labour win the 2001 election? In 2001 the Labour party won the General Election, obtaining 413 seats as opposed to the Conservatives' 166. The Liberal Democrats gained 6 seats to take their total to 52. Other parties got 9 seats in parliament. This was a widely expected result, and showed maintained vast support for Labour since the 1997 election. In order to establish why the Labour Party won the election in 2002, a number of points have to be considered. The conservative party leader from 1997-2001 was William Hague. In recent years presidential style elections (focussing on the party leader as opposed to the party) have been predominant in general elections. Therefore, the image and personality of the candidate has become ever more important. In the 1987 election for example, Margaret Thatcher was seen as a strong, vibrant, stable communicator. The public favoured her to Kinnock who was labelled indecisive and unattractive. Needless to say, Margaret Thatcher won. In 2001, the public favoured Blair 44% compared to 13% for William Hague in an opinion poll asking who would be the better leader. In 1997, 50% of Labours political broadcasts on television were based around the party leader and 2001 followed this trend. Therefore, people were more likely to vote for Labour because they had the better and more charismatic leader, Tony Blair, as opposed to William Hague. ...read more.


The Labour party had achieved the lowest unemployment rates since the mid 1970s and this pleased the working classes and secured the employed voters for another election. The fact the unemployment levels had decreased filled people with hope that Labour could futhur decrease unemployment if they were in power for another term. They had no reason to believe Labour would slacken on their employment policy and therefore no reason to take a gamble and change the party in power. The reason people decide not to vote for the party in power again is based on the levels of satisfaction with what the party have achieved, and as the Labour party had not decreased employment, the people voted again for them, and hence they won the 2001 election. The employment situation was perhaps more of a factor of why the party won than the influence of the press. People in employment would have been more likely to vote Labour because they were satisfied than just because a newspaper said so. Voters were directly benefiting from employment levels whereas they were not directly benefiting from newspaper propaganda. The economy was doing well in other areas aside from employment. The party could boast the lowest inflation rates since the early 1970s and the lowest interest rates for thirty years. This pleased the middle class voters and made them want to vote labour again, because they both were pleased with the party's achievements so far and also had no reason to take a gamble on voting for a party who might not maintain the Labour party's good work. ...read more.


Therefore, party errors meant that the conservatives did not gain much support because they did not tackle issues that were important to people. They also gave the wrong impression about their Europe beliefs "...that did give the impression the party was shrill and extremist" Lord Britten. The party focused so predominantly on Europe that people thought they were extreme and hence preferred the Labour party. They were not made aware of any conservative policies that were much different from the Labour party's policies, and hence did not see why they should vote for a similar but historically less successful party. This meant that Labour did not have a genuine competitive opposition. The opposition the conservatives offered was not very strong and so they were effectively not challenged. This meant that the Labour Party won the 2001 election easily. In conclusion, the Labour Party did not do anything drastically good in their four years in power, but the conservatives lacked sufficient momentum to do anything radical or propose changes that would swing voters back from Labour voting. The conservatives had a legacy of recent failure behind them and a leader who was not particularly appealing to the public so they could not gain support easily. In addition to this the Labour party did not displease any particular sector of their voters. Although voting turnout went down, this did not affect the Labour Party and hence they easily won the election comfortably, as the situation had not changed a great deal since their first great victory in 1997. -- Ruth Naughton-Doe ...read more.

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