'Labour Lost the 1979 Uk General Election Due to the Strength of the Conservative Opposition'. Assess the Validity of This View. (45 Marks)

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The 3rd May 1979 saw the greatest parliamentary swing since the war, with the Conservative Party polling 43.9% of the vote; thereby winning 339 seats (up 62 since the last election). It is due to these figures, therefore, that historians such as Eric Evans believe that it was the strength of the Conservatives under their new, forward-thinking leader, Margaret Thatcher that led them to victory. However, when one looks at the context of the time itself, it seems apparent, as Marr sums up, that ‘it was likely that the current social climate left the Labour Party in an unfavourable position’. In reality, it seems more likely that Labour weaknesses, particularly those of the Labour Leader James Callaghan during the Winter of Discontent, led to the huge parliamentary swing of 1979.

During her electoral campaign, Margaret Thatcher promised to introduce a series of parliamentary bills in order to rescue Britain from an uncertain economic and social future. Working closely with her key Shadow Cabinet colleagues (like Nigel Lawson and Willie Whitelaw) prior to the election, Margaret Thatcher promised the electorate that her administration would help encourage personal prosperity whilst also pledging to curb the power held by the unions and thereby help to get the economy back on track. The sanguineous way in which she contrasted the nation’s standing both socially and economically prior to the election, in contrast to her view of the country if she were to introduce the laws listed previously was vitally important in promoting her as a viable candidate for the premiership. However, it becomes quite clear on analysis that during this campaign, Thatcher was acting as little more than a ‘populist’, i.e.) adopting her ideas from that of the current public opinion. According to Marr, it is down to the circumstances which the Labour Government faced that caused wide-spread support for the ‘Iron Lady’; a situation that she quickly embraced, i.e.) Thatcher was nothing but...
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