The Beginning of the End
After the 1987 Greenwich by-election, David Owen radiated confidence. There had been a stupendous victory for the Alliance. Rosie Barnes appeared to be tailor-made for the circumstances; telegenic, she oozed confidence and charm tempered by sound common sense. Her apparent inexperience was an asset not a handicap: she was not tainted with a past record to defend. Her market research background gave her the confidence to express the middle way in simple terms. (This was to prove less beguiling when she did a straight-to-camera party political broadcast during the general election campaign, when the thinness of her material was only too apparent.) Clearly her racy style of speaking caught the imagination not only of Greenwich, but of people elsewhere. She was catapulted overnight into national prominence, right into the central policy-making bodies of the party.1 She accepted this allocated role as if she were born to it. It is interesting to speculate whether any of the former MPs who were now SDP members could have won that by-election with the same margin of votes. Clearly, the SDP would have won in any case because the tide was temporarily running in its favour; she alone might have been the only candidate capable of producing such a stunning result.
KeywordsElection Campaign Labour Party Liberal Party Nuclear Deterrent Ballot Paper
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