Labour's Landslide: The British General Election 1997
Edited by Andrew Geddes and Jonathan Tonge
Manchester University Press, 1997, 211 pp
Coxall and Robbins, who teach at the University of Brighton and at de Montford University in Leicester, have written a comprehensive and remarkably objective history of British politics from 1945 to the present. They deal not only with domestic politics, but also with Britain's multinational dimension, Britain and Europe, and the rise and problems of the welfare state. A final chapter on three ideological perspectives -- the Marxist left, the new right, and the political center -- is particularly welcome.
Geddes and Tonge, who teach at the University of Liverpool and at the University of Salford, have put together an excellent collection of essays on the general election of 1997. The authors show the success that Tony Blair's New Labour has had in appealing to white collar and skilled manual workers -- half of the electorate. The Conservatives were defeated by a public perception of their party as "incompetent . . . disunited, and . . . sleazy," and by the electorate's resentment of Tory economic and tax policies of 1992-95. The volume provides crisp analyses of the role of the media (which went massively over to Labour), of the issues of devolution (on which Labour, unlike the Tories, was united), race and immigration (less influential than earlier), and of the place of women (still underrepresented) in the campaign. Short profiles of different constituencies add to the volume's appeal.