Constituency Preparations 1966–1970

  • David Butler
  • Michael Pinto-Duschinsky


‘It was the pirate radio …’, ‘our 100% canvass …’, ‘the rise in council house rents …’, ‘the candidate’s flair for publicity …’, ‘the new housing estate …’. These were some of the reasons given to us after the election to explain particularly good or particularly bad constituency results. As previous Nuffield studies would suggest, we are inclined to treat such assertions with reserve. The assurance with which exceptional performances are accounted for after the event contrasts with the inability of even the most experienced, well-informed party organisers to predict them beforehand. In any case, the vast majority of individual results conformed to the national pattern. In 1970, the swing from Labour to Conservative was within 1.5% of the national average in 335 out of the total 630 constituencies, and only in 28 did it deviate by more than 4%.


Local Election Labour Party Parliamentary Election Party Secretary Local Party 
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  1. 1.
    R. L. Leonard, ‘Who are Labour’s agents?’ New Society, July 15, 1965.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    See also J. Minogue, ‘Agents want Security’, Guardian, January 20, 1969.Google Scholar
  3. 1.
    See R. L. Leonard, Elections in Britain (Van Nostrand, 1968), pp. 60–1.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    The high percentage of Councillors among CLP ward secretaries emerges, for example, from J. M. Bochel’s ‘Activists in the Conservative and Labour Parties — A Study of Ward Secretaries in Manchester’, M.A. Thesis, University of Manchester, 1965.Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    P. Abrams and A. Little, ‘The Young Activist in British Politics’, British Journal of Sociology, December 1965, give a figure of 25,000. Though this is possibly an over-estimate, it gives some impression of the decline during the late 1960s. Abrams and Little reckon that the rate of decline of the YS in the decade preceding 1965 had been 5% per annum.Google Scholar
  6. 1.
    For an example of a constituency party budget together with a discussion of constituency finance, see R. L. Leonard, Elections in Britain (van Nostrand, 1968) p. 61.Google Scholar
  7. 1.
    Quotations are from Ian Trethowan, ‘Brooke’s answer to Tory provincial decay’, The Times, June 29, 1967.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Butler and Michael Pinto-Duschinsky 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Michael Pinto-Duschinsky
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.Pembroke CollegeOxfordUK

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