Testing the Manifesto

  • Richard Rose


Elections are occasional; government is continuous. The Manifesto model takes a long view of party politics. It is concerned not so much with the outcome of a brief election campaign as it is with what happens before and what happens after, especially when the opposition becomes the government. The Manifesto model takes a positive view of the policymaking role of parties. It asserts that a party newly elected to office will use the power gained to redeem the pledges and hopes that it raised in opposition.


Election Campaign Labour Government Labour Party Conservative Government Conservative Party 
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  1. 1.
    Wilfrid Harrison, The Government of Britain (5th ed.; London: Hutchinson, 1958), p. 164.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For the evolution of practices that led to the modern manifesto, see Cecil S. Emden, The People and the Constitution (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), esp. chap. 1.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See F. W. S. Craig, British General Election Manifestos, 1900–1974 (London: Macmillan, 1975), pp. 2 ff.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    S. E. Finer, “Manifesto Moonshine”, New Society, 13 November 1975.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Anthony S. King, “Death of the Manifesto”, The Observer, 17 February 1974. King’s views are echoed by Sidney Weighell, an NUR member of the Labour Party Enquiry, 1980, in “What Labour Must Do to Avoid Another Defeat”, The Times, 28 December 1979.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Geoff Bish, Secretary of the Research Department of the Labour Party, “Working Relations between Government and Party”, in What Went Wrong, ed. Ken Coates (Nottingham: Spokesman for Institute for Workers’ Control, 1979), p. 163.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    In October 1974, 73 percent of Conservative and 62 percent of Labour candidates said they paid a “great deal” of attention to their party manifesto, and less than one-tenth said they gave it little or no attention. See D. E. Butler and Dennis Kavanagh, The British General Election of October, 1974 (London: Macmillan, 1975), p. 230.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    See J. D. Hoffman, The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1945–51 (London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1964)Google Scholar
  9. Harold Macmilllan, Memoirs, vol. 5, Pointing the Way, 1959–61 (London: Macmillan, 1972), pp. 4–5, andGoogle Scholar
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    Conservative Research Department, Politics Today, no. 15 (8 October 1979): 315–18.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    For an exhaustive study of extraparliamentary Labour policy making in this period, see Lewis Minkin, The Labour Party Conference (London: Allen Lane, 1978).Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    The words of George Brown, In My Way (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972), PP. 252 f.Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    Geoff Bish, “Drafting the Manifesto”, in Coates, What Went Wrong, p. 189. Cf. Michael Hatfield, The House the Left Built (London: Victor Gollancz, 1978).Google Scholar
  15. 20.
    See R. H. S. Crossman, Inside View (London: Jonathan Cape, 1972).Google Scholar
  16. 23.
    See, e.g., The Campaign Guide 1974, p. 685; and the statement by Fred Corfield, House of Commons Debates, vol. 810, col. 1922–35 (4 February 1971).Google Scholar
  17. 25.
    Kenneth Harris, The Prime Minister talks to The Observer (London: The Observer, 1979), P. 11.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard Rose 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Rose
    • 1
  1. 1.HelensburghUK

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