The impact of marketing and public relations on modern British politics : the Conservative Party and government under Mrs Thatcher.
This thesis examines marketing and public relations techniques in British politics, focusing
on the Conservative Party from the election of Mrs Thatcher as Leader and on the
government under her premiership.
A review of the history of political marketing in Britain - and its impact - shows that the
practices of image-building and agenda management are by no means an innovation of the
1970s. The public relations activities of the 1945-5 1 Labour Government bear interesting
similarities to those of the post-1979 Conservative ones.
The three substantive contributions of the research are: studies of the 1987 general election;
government publicity since 1979; and finally an evaluation of the success of the marketing
of parties and leaders in the Thatcher period.
The 1987 case study surveys and evaluates political marketing, paying particular attention to
the role and input of marketing consultants in the preparation and conduct of the campaign.
This includes an assessment of the Conservative targeting of 'critical constituencies'. Sources
used are private party documents, interviews with politicians, campaign managers and public
relations advisers, observation of party press conferences and opinion polls.
The evaluation of governmental publicity concentrates on two controversial areas: advertising
in support of social and economic policy; and the role of Mrs Thatcher's Press Secretary, (Sir)
Bernard Ingham, especially his relationship with the Parliamentary Lobby and his alleged
management of news. The material used includes a detailed analysis of advertising
expenditure data (MEAL) over a 20-year period and unpublished evidence to the Lobby
Finally, the third original discussion attempts to assess the success or otherwise of marketing
in influencing voters based upon secondary analysis of opinion poll data.