The Campaign Analysed

  • David Butler
  • Dennis Kavanagh


A critique of campaigning is open to three obvious objections. The first lies in the temptations of retrospective wisdom. After the event many errors are easy to see and the advocates of an alternative course can never be proved wrong. In history, after all, there can be no exact replication and ‘if only’ arguments should be made tentatively. A second objection lies in the potential pettiness of the operation. An analysis of administrative mistakes or verbal slips, of publicity blunders or misjudgments of timing can reduce a vital moment in the life of a nation to a mere tactical game. An analyst of the trivia of a campaign needs to preserve a strong sense of historical perspective. A third and related objection lies in the danger of over-interpretation, of elevating a nothing into a something. It is possible that all the manoeuvrings in Smith Square to which so much attention is given are of negligible importance, having at most only a random effect on the outcome of the contest. Despite the apparent shifts during the 1970 and February 1974 campaigns, those elections like all the rest must still be seen as the end of a long process, decided in the main by far bigger forces than any electioneering tactics could supply.


Social Contract Opinion Poll Party Leader National Unity Press Conference 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Dennis Kavanagh
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.University of ManchesterUK

Personalised recommendations