How Political Parties Respond: Interest Aggregation Revisited

By Kay Lawson; Thomas Poguntke | Go to book overview
Save to active project


Speaking for whom?

From 'old' to 'New' Labour

James E. Cronin

The emergence of New Labour in Britain in the mid-1990s and its massive election victory in May 1997 are events of genuinely historic significance. The scale of Labour's triumph was virtually unprecedented and prompted informed, if premature, speculation about whether 1997 was perhaps a genuinely 'critical', or 'realigning' election that would remake the nation's 'long-term party order' (Evans and Norris 1999; Butler and Kavanagh 1997; Crewe and Thomson 1999:65; Norris 2001). The 1997 election was 'historic' in another, rather different, sense of the term. For decades scholars and politicians alike have spoken about two historical trends that, between them, should have reconfigured the political landscape in Britain. The first is the tendency for parties of the left to move towards the centre; the second is the secular erosion of class as the dominant fact of modern industrial society and as the primary determinant of political allegiance and behaviour (Evans 1999). Both processes have been described repeatedly and their impact long anticipated. For decades, however, the realities of British politics refused to conform to the patterns emerging so clearly elsewhere (Kirchheimer 1966). Class sentiments, resentments and loyalties remained surprisingly resilient; and despite numerous efforts to move the Labour Party away from its ideological roots, the party and its leaders resisted 'modernization' and clung obstinately to their traditional commitments to equality, redistribution through taxation and public spending, and nationalization. The transition from 'old' to 'New Labour' represents, then, an intriguing variation on the relationship between parties and the electorate: the party ultimately responded in clear and dramatic fashion, but the nature of the party not only delayed the process but forced it to take particular forms.

The linked transformations in the nature of left-wing parties and in their relationship to their traditional working-class constituencies were sociologically rooted in a broader shift in the character of mass parties and the societies in which they operated. In the past it was often assumed - by scholars at least (Almond 1960; Almond and Powell 1966) - that properly functioning parties gave voice to clearly defined social interests, and that parties in turn helped to translate the frequently discordant


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
How Political Parties Respond: Interest Aggregation Revisited


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 271

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?