Jenkins, Roy
April 1960
Foreign Affairs;Apr1960, Vol. 38 Issue 3, p487
Academic Journal
This article presents information on the political achievements of the Labor Party of Great Britain. In itself the Labor Party's defeat at the general election of 1959 was not catastrophic. Only about one percent of the electorate changed sides and only 23 seats in the House of Commons changed hands. And the current Conservative parliamentary majority of 100, while substantial, has been exceeded in seven out of the fifteen parliaments of this century. It was the fourth successive election at which the Labor Party had lost support and the third successive election at which the Conservatives had won a majority. No previous British party had performed this feat of winning three Alsace general elections in a row since the beginning of modern politics in 1832. There were two other features which gave an additional seriousness to the Labor defeat. The first was the absence of any obvious attenuating circumstances. The party was well led, and peculiarly free from internal quarrels. The second feature arises from the categories of people who are thought to have made up the swing away from Labor. The second consideration is that British left-wing parties have always been subject to decay and replacement. The Conservatives have been much less self-destructive and have successfully adapted themselves to social and franchise changes which resulted first in the replacement of the old Whig Party by the Liberal Party and then in the destruction of the Liberal Party. and its replacement as a major force by the Labor Party.


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