The Economic Context

  • David Butler
  • Donald Stokes


“A Government is not supported a hundredth part so much by the constant, uniform, quiet prosperity of the country as by those damned spurts which Pitt used to have just in the nick of time.” So wrote Brougham to Thomas Creevey in 1814. The fact that he could attribute the Tory hegemony in the 1790s to the same cause that was commonly given as the reason for the party’s success in the 1950s shows how deeply rooted in British politics is the idea that the Government is accountable for good and bad times. Popular acceptance of this idea means that the state of the economy has loomed large in the minds of all modern Prime Ministers as they pondered on the timing of a dissolution. And in the post-Keynesian era more than one government has been tempted to see a favorable context for an election by expanding the economy, although dissolutions are more easily timed to coincide with expansion than the other way round.


Economic Context Economic Affair Party Lead Economic Expansion Economic Distress 
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  1. 4.
    See R.S. Milne and H.C. Mackenzie, Straight Fight, London, 1954, p. 136, which records that in 1951, a dozen years after the end of mass unemployment, over half their Labour respondents in N.E. Bristol gave full employment or the fear of unemployment as a reason for voting Labour.Google Scholar
  2. 8.
    For a systematic statement of such a model see P. E. Converse, “The Shifting Role of Class in Political Attitudes and Behavior,” E. E. Maccoby and others, eds., Readings in Social Psychology, London and New York, 3rd edition, 1966.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Butler and Donald Stokes 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Donald Stokes
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.Center for Political StudiesUniversity of MichiganUSA

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