chapter  1
41 Pages

A single-issue pressure group

If only one day could lay claim as the bleakest in the history of the British Conservative Party, then 2 May 1997 would be a strong contender. As Conservatives awoke that morning to digest the results of the general election, they found they had been shunned by voters and battered by Tony Blair and New Labour. They had been thrown out of offi ce after eighteen years and won barely 30 per cent of the national vote. It was their lowest level of support since the birth of British party politics in 1832. In the House of Commons, they now had only 165 MPs, who sat opposite the largest gathering of Labour MPs in British political history. 1 Some na ï ve Tories talked about a quick recovery but the reality would be quite diff erent. They would not return to government for thirteen years, and even then they would be forced to share power with the Liberal Democrats.