on 29 July 2001
David Butler, with Dennis Kavanagh, continues to provide insightful and critical analysis of British election results. The account of the 1992 election maintains this tradition.
A reader in 2092 will understand the election's context and helped me look afresh to events still fresh in my mind. Successive chapters provide the background of the 1987-1992 Parliament, the significant changes in the Conservative party following the deposition of Margaret Thatcher and John Major's succession, and the efforts of Neil Kinnock's Labour Party and Paddy Ashdown's Liberal Democratic Party.
The analysis of the period just before the election and of the election campaign itself gives us a balanced picture of how the British people were influenced by the campaign. Included in the book are three chapters written by four guest writers. These focus on broadcasting, the tabloids as well as MPs and candidates. The chapters give us a view on how important these are.
I particularly like the book because it draws out lessons for the future and asks, in its final chapter, whether is was "A Critical Election?". David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh skillfully outline its importance of this election to both the Labour and Liberal Democract parties. The changes made led to the former's biggest landslide in 1997 and the Liberal Democrats biggest number of seats since the 1920s.
The advantage of hindsight - or disadvantages - are always a potential distraction to those who write history of recent events. I found that the writing did not overplay hindsight but provided a critical analysis of the period. A thoroughly readable book.