Just 19 weeks elapsed between the general election in May 1997 and referendum day in September. During this period the necessary legislation to provide for a referendum was passed, the practical arrangements for the voting were organised, a white paper setting out the government's proposals was published, a referendum campaign was conducted and the vote itself took place. It was a tight timetable and, given that the House of Commons summer recess had also to be fitted in, it is difficult to imagine that the referendum could have been held any sooner. From the government's point of view, holding the referendum as soon as possible had obvious appeals. It would take place during Labour's honeymoon period, it provided clear evidence of the government's determination to implement its manifesto promises and supporters of devolution had been preparing for a referendum for some time. The Conservatives, the main anti-devolution force, were recovering from a humiliating election defeat and had more pressing concerns, including choosing a new leader whose election was to be ratified by the party as a whole.