I'm sure you're right about the general effect of tactical voting in Britain, but
I think the Scottish issue also fits in, as they were predictably more
Labour than Lib-Dem.  But I think Thatcher's triumphalist self-
representations need explaining on this side of the Atlantic, as our system
is so much a two-party one (and one with a direct election of the
president) that she can appear to have been a great favorite.  I don't think
she was or that she was generally beloved by middle class women.  So
what I meant to do was make the point that her 12 years did not mean she
was ever a majority favorite among women or anyone else.

Was she?

I don't think there is any comparison between Le Pen and either Labour or
the Lib-Dems.  Surely that must be obvious.  Neither is or was a radical
extremist party, and in fact the Lib-Dems have been very centrist on many
issues all along.

Date sent:              Sun, 8 Dec 2002 21:56:45 +0100
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From:                   INGELBIEN RAPHAEL <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:                Re: OT British politics (was Thatcher)
To:                     [log in to unmask]

> I was living in London at the time Thatcher first won.  She did not
receive a
> majority by any means.  What happened was that the Lib-Dems broke off
> from Labour and the non-Thatcher vote was split.  To my knowledge she
> never won a majority in her 12 years.  As I remember, she won 41% that
> first time

True - but then no single post-war British government ever polled more
than 50 % in a general election. Thatcher's scores were decent, if not
extraordinary. In 1974, Labour got a (slender) majority in the Commons
with less than 40 % of the vote. The split of the non-Thatcher vote should
not be exaggerated. In many constituencies, the left-wing vote wasn't
split down the middle, but went either to Labour (mostly in the North) or
to the Lib Dems (mostly in the South). Tactical voting has always been
fairly widespread in Britain.

BTW, I don't know what Peter implies when he says people 'held their
noses' when they voted Thatcher, 'given the alternatives'. At the last
French election, some people held their noses and voted Chirac - the
alternative was Le Pen. Surely neither Labour nor the Lib Dems were ever
as disreputable as that?

> I kept
> thinking at the time that absolutely nothing could have helped the
> "yes/yes" vote more than Thatcher running up there to urge Scots not to.

Apparently even the Scottish Tories shared your analysis. They politely
tried to dissuade her from visiting Scotland, but they failed to stop her
- much to their dismay...


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