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Title: The growth of the third party support in Britain : a comparative study of the electoral bases for Liberal and Scottish National Parties' successes during the 1970s.
Author: Van Mechelen, Denis Philip van.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3390 7520
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1982
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This thesis exam~nes common bases to the growth in third party support during the 1970s. It is argued that the British elements have been either neglected or else under-developed in earlier studies of Scottish National Party support. To rectify this the present study attempts a comparative investigation of the social, political, spatial and attitudinal aspects of both Liberal and SNP support. The focus is upon direct and indirect evidence insofar as Liberal support is viewed both in England and Scotland. Third party support in 1974 is placed within the broader time perspective of 1967 to 1981 so as to facilitate identification of the source of growth for these parties. In addition a distinction ~s drawn between 1974 supporters in terms of when they were first attracted to the part~, so that in the time-bound part of the analysis the new element can be distinguished from the older part. In terms of social composition a large amount of convergence rather than divergence in third party support is shown to have taken place by the mid-1970s. Politically the SNP is shown to have benefited from different sources at different times. By 1974 it drew upon the same support base as the Liberal Party. Furthermore, when account is taken of the distinction between 'early' and 'late' third party converts the similarity of support base becomes even clearer. Spatially also the SNP fell into the general British pattern of third party support in the 1970s.This is especially noticeable in the relationship between the political complexion of constituencies and the level of class-party defection to third parties.Finally attitudinal evidence of a short-term and long-term nature is used to illustrate respectively the protest and centrist elements present in third party support. It is suggested that Scottish voters turned to the SNP in 1974 as much to express their British concerns as their peculiarly Scottish ones. The circumstances of the 1974 General Elections placed Btitish concerns firmly in the minds of the electorate both north and south of the border. Indeed late SNP vote deciders in Scotland are shown to be motivated more by these matters than purely Scottish ones. The thesis concludes by suggesting that the rlse of the Social Democratic Party has hindered SNP progress in Scotland since the 1979 General Election precisely because it draws on this British dimension. "!::t is suggested that t~le SUP is a3 c.ependent as any other third party upon a volatile political environment. Finally the analytic success of distinguishing between early and late vote deciders indicates that more campaign based surveys are needed in the study of third party support.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science