Journal Article

Elections and Public Opinion: Plus Ça Change ...

Paul Lambe, Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher

in Parliamentary Affairs

Published on behalf of Hansard Society

Volume 58, issue 2, pages 335-350
Published in print April 2005 | ISSN: 0031-2290
Published online April 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2482 | DOI:
Elections and Public Opinion: Plus Ça Change ...


Public attitudes towards the war in Iraq continued to trouble the Prime Minister and his government without affecting voting intentions to any great degree. Opinion poll ratings were remarkably stable, with Labour retaining a small lead over the Conservatives. There was general dissatisfaction with both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. Although the Conservative Party finished ahead in the European Parliamentary elections, its vote share fell compared with the previous election. The anti-European vote was much in evidence. Local elections saw net gains for the opposition parties and sizeable losses for Labour. Local government by-elections told a similar story. The second elections for the London Mayor and Assembly saw Ken Livingstone re-elected and only minor changes to the Assembly’s composition. Two minor parties, the British National Party and Respect, were only denied Assembly seats because of the operation of a 5% electoral threshold. There was some success for the Liberal Democrats in parliamentary by-elections but disappointing results for both Labour and Conservative Parties. Referendum voters in the North East region of England overwhelmingly rejected the proposal for an elected regional assembly.

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