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Title: The British general election of 1929
Author: Howard, J. G.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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This study seeks to examine the impact and importance of the first general election to be fought on universal suffrage. The nature and success of party appeals to women voters is considered first; despite continuities in party methods of policy appeal, women's majority presence in the electorate had subtle and lasting effects that were already apparent. These include the change in the balance between 'producers' and 'consumers' in the electorate, and it is suggested this change locked each party even firmly into an anti-inflationary political economy. Secondly, the three main parties are examined. Labour, despite disadvantages, was turning its focus from industrial to political action and evolving its long-term political strategy, and continuities in political tactics can be observed between MacDonald, Wilson and Blair. A large amount of Labour's tactics and positioning can be explained by the desire of key figures to place every obstacle in the way of the Liberal party. The Liberal party's radical proposals for reducing unemployment are examined in terms of electoral strategy rather than economic efficacy, and it is suggested that concentrating upon unemployment offered the Liberals their best chance of achieving electoral reform. The Conservatives, it is argued, were subject to constraints other than the desire to destroy the Liberal party. These meant that concentrating on Baldwin and 'Safety First' was the only practical option for the election. It is suggested that some of the constraints upon the government were virtually insoluble, and at least partly the consequence of the franchise extension. The election campaign is analysed, and it is suggested that whilst the primacy of macro-economic debate made 1929 'the beginning of now', all parties actually retreated into orthodoxy and the campaign turned more around personalities, 'trust' and confidence. Analysis of the results suggests Labour was the net beneficiary of Liberal intervention, and that the two-party system would be more troublesome for Labour than the Conservatives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available