Always on about Europe: British Political TL

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Shads, Nov 25, 2018.

  1. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    Hague Announces New Commitment To Europe Referendum
    20th May 1999: “In an announcement this week in the lead up to the European Parliament Election William Hague ,Conservative Party Leader, has announced that a Conservative Government would have a referendum on EU membership ‘within our first year of government’ . This move has already faced accusations of being ‘divisive at a time of dire cooperation with Europe’ by the Prime Minister as well as accusations within his own party that this is an attempt to appeal to Eurosceptic voters who may have been tempted to vote for the United Kingdom Independence Party, with recent reports suggesting the party could win a respectable 5% in the election due to its strong stance against the EU and the single currency. We have yet to see if this announcement will help or hinder the new Pro-Euro Conservative Party which was formed in February earlier this year but has yet to pick up much traction against the Conservatives.” - BBC News

    Hague’s announcement did indeed raise fortunes for the Tories with the party consistently polling in the low 30’s for the first time since 1998 and a warming from the Eurosceptic wing of the party to Hague’s “modernisation” of the Conservative Party. However his lack of consultation of the issue with the backbenchers of his party did hurt him, notably with second-place candidate for the Tory Leadership in 1997 Kenneth Clarke. Many years later it was revealed that Clarke and Hague had a heated personal argument over this issue, with Clarke asking why he wasn’t consulted on the introduction of this policy. Hague’s calm response was that Clarke had rejected consultation of the issue when he rejected a shadow cabinet position offer from Hague after the leadership election. These divisions were temporarily healed by a strong showing from the Conservatives in the European Parliament election especially considering when one of UKIP’s top chances for an MEP seat, Nigel Farage, announced he had “newfound confidence in the Conservative Party after their strong stand against Europe” and was not only not contesting the election but also rejoining the Conservative Party.


    1999 European Parliament Election

    Conservative: 40 Seats 36.5%

    Labour: 28 Seats 25.8%

    Liberal Democrats: 10 Seats 11.7%

    Greens: 2 Seats 5.3%

    SNP: 2 Seats 2.5%

    UKIP: 0 Seats 2.2%

    Pro Euro Conservative: 0 Seats 2.2%

    Others: 5 Seats
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
  2. SadSprinter Networker

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    Oh dear, this is going to be very interesting indeed. Was an EU referendum in the Hauge shadow cabinet a possibility in OTL?
     
  3. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    Not entirely sure about during the Shadow Cabinet but Hague has been arguing in favour of a referendum OTL since at least 2007 and his speeches about “taking back our country” whilst he was Leader of the Opposition suggests he wouldn’t have put one completely off the table.
     
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  4. SadSprinter Networker

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    Interesting. In my timeline a Euro-ref was proposed in 1990s-I read once that in OTL Margret Thatcher had begun to privately suggest Britain should leave the EU some time in the 90s.
     
  5. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    If that’s true then no doubt ITL Maggie would be even more glad that she endorsed Hague in 1997
     
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  6. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    Liberal Democrat Leadership Elections
    “*chuckles* Yes well I suppose I can’t deny that I took Ed ‘under my wing’ as you said. You see I really saw energy and passion in the man. After the 1997 where we almost tripled our representation in the commons I was very determined to make sure these new faces in the Liberal Democrats felt welcomed and represented. My endorsement was because I saw him as a fresh face who could take our party forward into the 21st century, but did I know what was going to happen under his leadership? *chuckles* No of course not!” - Interview with Paddy Ashdown in 2014

    The latter half of 1999 was the biggest change in the party since its formation 11 years prior. Paddy Ashdown had decided earlier that year to step down in August in favour of a new leader to bring the Lib Dems into the new millennium. However many weren’t expecting the deputy leader, the well respected Alan Beith, to also announce he would step down in the aftermath of the European Parliament Elections. Therefore in August the Lib Dem’s would be voting on both their leader and deputy leader. It was decided in what became known as the “July Compromise” that Lib Dem members would vote on their leader through Single Transferable Vote whilst the deputy leadership would be decided amongst the mps in a similar fashion.

    The three front runners for the leadership would be the communicative Scotsman Charles Kennedy, the spokesman for home affairs Simon Hughes and the spokesman for treasury affairs Edward Davey who at first was seen as an unlikely winner but through an effective campaign and an endorsement by Ashdown quickly was seen as a youthful serious contender. Although Kennedy was at first the favourite to win allegations from tabloids about a “drink problem” hurt his chances to a point where according to opinion polls the 3 front runners each held about a third of support in late July. Daveys risky strategy of warning that the Lib Dems could “One day be little more than New Labour’s yes men” served to be an effective rallying cry amongst campaigners for Davey.

    Lib Dem Leadership Election First Preference Votes

    Edward Davey: 20,437


    Charles Kennedy: 19,988

    Simon Hughes: 19,435

    David Rendel: 2,549


    Lib Dem Leadership Election Final Preference Votes

    Edward Davey: 30,886

    Charles Kennedy: 29,482



    Lib Dem Deputy Leadership Election

    Menzies Campbell: 33

    Vince Cable: 14



    Edward Davey and Menzies ‘Ming’ Campbell were elected Leader and Deputy Leader respectively. Davey had been elected to the Kingston and Surbiton constituency in 1997 by a very slim margin of 56 votes and soon after built a healthy relationship with Paddy Ashdown. Davey for the was very much a liberal in the classical sense, frequently criticising the “Nanny State” of the New Labour Government. Davey and Campbell earned the name “Junior and Senior” amongst the press for their 24 year age difference, with Davey being just 33 at the time of his election. Whilst there were some murmurs that Kennedy had stated to a private source he was “unsure if he could serve in a Davey led cabinet” A new dawn for the Liberal Democrats had indeed broken.
     
  7. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    Portillos Return to Parliament
    1997 was in every sense of the word a crushing defeat for the Tories but the cherry on top for the Labour Party was the defeat of the man widely expected to succeed John Major, Michael Portillo in his crushing loss in Enfield Southgate. Portillo was now anxiously waiting for his moment to return after a seat became vacant and the death of Alan Clark in September 1999 freed up the Conservative Safe Seat of Kensington and Chelsea. Recent nationwide opinion polls had showed Labour on 41%, Conservatives on 35% and the Lib Dems on 17% with both the Tories and Lib Dems experiencing an increase in momentum from the EU Parliament election and the election of Davey as leader respectively.

    However whilst UKIPs decline helped the Tories the Pro Euro Conservative Party was preventing them from narrowing Labours poll lead any further. Hague’s lack of giving a solid answer on how he would vote in his proposed referendum also harmed him with Pro-Europe Tory voters as many believed he was attempting to dodge the question of how Eurosceptic he truly was. This led to the Pro Euro Conservative Party announcing they would contest the by election, putting forward former Tory MEP and party founder John Stevens. Some Labour hopefuls saw this as an opportunity to take the seat on a split Tory vote and partook in some particularly heavy campaigning for a by-election, bringing in Chancellor Gordon Brown to give a short speech on the successes of the economy of the last 2 years. Although at first the Liberal Democrats had considered once again contesting the seat with their 1997 candidate, Robert Woodthorpe-Browne, Ed Davey instead announced they would not be fielding a candidate and would instead endorse a vote for the Pro-Euro Conservative Party in what was considered the first radical difference in Daveys strategy to Ashdowns. Although the left of the party grumbled about supporting a Tory splinter candidate this was mainly drowned out by Davey and Stevens energetic joint campaign in which Davey stated in a well regarded speech that this proved the Liberal Democrats were “the party of cooperation” and “represented a change in the old to and fro of the two party system”. In the end Portillo did win his seat but the results looked nothing like expectations at the start of the campaign.

    Kensington and Chelsea By-Election Results

    Conservative-Michael Portillo: 9,894 54.5%
    Labour-Robert Atkinson: 4,731 24.1%
    Pro-Euro Conservative-John Stevens: 3,295 18.1%
    Greens-Hugo Charlton: 395 2.2%
    UKIP-Damian Hockney: 212 1.2%

    Majority: 30.4% +4.7% from 1997
    Turnout: 34.2%

    The By-Election brought Tory heavy hitter Portillo back into government and with a stronger working relationship with Hague than ever before. Unbeknownst to the two ,however, Portillo’s return would prove to be Hague’s downfall.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
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  8. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    The 'Dawn of the Millennium' Shadow Cabinet

    Portillo returned to the Common's to find a Conservative Party that had very much shaped and changed to his liking since he left in 1997. He was quick, in an interview with Jeremy Paxman in late December, to confirm his support for a referendum on EU membership. Hague was keen to promote his new ally to a prominent position in the Shadow Cabinet and as such, perhaps adopting a bit of Tony Blair's successful spin technique himself, announced a Shadow Cabinet reshuffle on January 2nd 2000. Given the fancy and to some overly confident title of the "Millennium Cabinet" it saw Portillo quickly promoted to second in command just a few short months after his return to parliament. As 'Y2K' paranoia started to die down the new Shadow Cabinet was announced.

    Shadow Cabinet of William Hague after 2nd January 2000 Reshuffle

    Leader of the Opposition - William Hague
    Shadow Chancellor - Michael Portillo
    Shadow Foreign Secretary - Michael Ancram
    Shadow Home Secretary - John Redwood
    Conservative Party Chairman - Ann Widdecombe
    Shadow Education and Employment Secretary - Theresa May
    Shadow Defence Secretary - Iain Duncan Smith
    Shadow Health Secretary - Liam Fox
    Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary - Oliver Letwin
    Shadow Food, Fisheries and Agriculture Secretary - Tim Yeo
    Shadow Environment Secretary - Archie Norman
    Shadow Transport Secretary - Michael Howard

    The reshuffle was noted for being specifically picked to contain some of the most vocal critics of the EU to the top spot. Most notably was the promotion of John Redwood, third place candidate in the 1997 Tory Leadership contest and frequent advocate for an exit from the EU. Once again there was no cabinet position for famed critic of the Hague leadership, Kenneth Clarke. Although it was claimed that Hague was trying to mend relations with Clarke in order to present the Conservatives as a united opposition in preparation for the general election widely expected to be called early next year. All the while the Pro-Euro Conservative Party had reached a steady 3% in recent opinion polls which showed a lasting effect from the by-election coverage. Clarke, who had been in talks with Ed Davey and John Stevens for some time since the Kensington and Chelsea by-election, would end up announcing in late January of his intentions to 'leave the old-fangled, clinging to old ideals Conservative Party in favour of the real future of Conservatism in the New Millenium, the Pro-Euro Conservative Party.'. He would also be joined by former Deputy Prime Minister and pro-EU challenger to Mrs Thatcher in 1990 Michael Heseltine as well as several other minor pro-EU Tory members of parliament who claimed had been left with "no other choice" from the "toxic" attitudes of William Hague and his Shadow Cabinet.

    The Pro-Euro Conservative Party, after obviously welcoming these defections with open arms, gave a joint summit with the Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey in that the party would form an electoral pact in the coming Ceredigion by-election, caused by the resignation of Plaid Cymru mp Cynog Dafis to focus on his new seat in the Welsh Assembly. The Liberal Democrats had received an unfortunate 16.5% vote in the previous general election and hoped this new-found alliance with the Pro-Euro Conservatives would be just the boost needed to re-take the seat for the first time since the 1987 election, where Plaid had come last behind both the Tories and Labour as well as the Liberals. Therefore the Pro-Euro Conservatives announced they would not contest the seat and gave full endorsement to Liberal Democrat candidate Mark Williams. The result was a narrow Plaid victory with the seat now restored to a marginal and a possible 2001 target for the electoral alliance.

    Ceredigion By-Election Results
    Plaid Cymru-Simon Thomas: 9,349 37.2%
    Liberal Democrat-Mark Williams: 7,664 30.5%
    Conservative-Paul Davies: 2,482 9.9%
    Labour-Maria Battle: 3,432 13.6%
     
  9. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    Consequences of the Split
    In the aftermath of the split many opinion polls were taken to determine how effective this new alliance between the Liberal Democrat’s and Pro-Euro Tories would be. Amongst likely Tory voters who viewed the EU as “favourable” 68% agreed with Clarke, Heseltine and the other 10 mps on their decision to change party. Opinion polls put Labour on 42%, the Conservatives with a notable decline of their fortunes for the past year on 29%, the Lib Dem’s on 18% and the Pro-Euro Tories on 7%. Some of the Tory Parties staff had been crunching the numbers and calculated at a General Election this would result in a loss of roughly 20-30 seats for them. This was a far cry from the decent 40 gains that had been expected in most polls in late 1999. Hague was quick to denounce these ‘splitters’ as he called them as “representing a fringe movement within the Conservative Party” and the Tory frontbrench would follow suit with expressions of loyalty and confidence in Hague’s leadership. Privately of course things told a different story with the Tories in panic over how 2001 could be a further step back from power instead of a step forward.

    “It is clear from the emergence of this split in Tory lines that only New Labour offers the resolve and the unity to face the new challenges presented by the new millennium. For the past 3 years we have offered stable government and a recovery from the sleaze and crisis of the last government, that is why I advocate a vote for Ken Livingstone for London Mayor. I have confidence that his leadership will bring London forward into the 2000s as well as offer strong leadership in the face of any future crisis.” - Tony Blair, giving a speech for Labour’s candidate for the London Mayoral Election, Ken Livingstone.

    The Local Elections of 2000 saw very little change in council seats and councillors, with Labour making small gains at the expense of the split opposition vote. In the popular vote of this round of Local Elections Labour kept steady at 32% whilst the Tories and Lib Dem Pro Euro alliance both received 28%. More importantly Ken Livingstone was elected the first mayor of London with a landslide for Labour of 63.3% to the Tories 36.7%. Bad news continued for the Tories as on the same day the Liberal Democrat’s surged into first place as Sandra Gidley became the new Member of Parliament for Romsey. The Pro-Euro Conservative Party still was able to suck away votes from the Tories and most of them were funnelled to the Lib Dems. By now John Stevens had stepped down as unofficial leader of the Pro-Euro Conservatives and Clarke, always the figurehead of the party, was unanimously elected leader amongst the 12 mps and 88.5% of support of the party’s 850 official members, most of the others casted a vote for Heseltine who wasn’t even standing. Certainly, the attitude at the time was summed up by four former MEPs who wrote a letter to The Times.

    “We would have wished that William Hague's party had put forward a manifesto more like that of the Pro Euro Conservative Party. Like many Conservatives, we shall find it very difficult to know how best to cast our vote.”
     
  10. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    The September Hope

    For most of 2000 Hague had been having a rough time leading the Conservative Party and prospects for the 2001 General Election looked bleak with some circles of the Tory party suggesting Hague pull a Labour in ‘87 and work to fend off ‘The Pact’ for 2nd place. The press had coined the perhaps lazy term for the electoral agreement beteeen the Pro-Euro Tories and the Lib Dems upon its formation but hadn’t really caught on until it’s remarkable success at the Romsey by-election and the professionalism of the term had appealed to the two parties.

    Indeed, Clarke and Davey had struck up a healthy relationship, not least helped by the fact that the two men had both attended Nottingham High School and as such bonded over stories of shared teachers and the like. Hague still maintained a small but steady poll lead over the alliance as well as confidence in his belief that on Election Day many Tories won’t be able to bring themselves to vote Lib Dem and as such Blair might underestimate the Conservative performance. This could lead to those 30-40 gains Hague would need to keep his grip over leadership secure.

    In a decade the cost of fuel in Britain had gone from being the cheapest in Europe to one of the most expensive. This came to a climax in August and September of 2000 as the “Dump the Pumps” campaign was organised in protest of fuel costs causing in some areas a report of a 50% decrease in business. On the 8th of September Stanlow Refinery in Cheshire was blockaded by Farmers for Action and the following days saw pickets in protest of fuel costs up and down the country. William Hague saw the protests as his opportunity to regain some momentum and declared that a Conservative Government would cut fuel prices by 20p per litre all the while panic buying of fuel threatened already thinning supply of fuel in petrol stations. Hague’s fuel pledge saw a quick surprise return of favour for the Conservatives with their first poll lead in many years with 37% Conservative, 36% Labour and 22% for The Pact. Another poll at the worst point of the crisis saw the Conservatives on 40%, Labour on 31% and The Pact with 23% which could have taken the Tories into possible majority territory. However while the Governments initial response to the protests was sloppy Tony Blair soon cleaned up his act and by late September both support for protests and the Conservative party had deceased. Labour then resumed its consistent poll lead over the Tories. Hague would receive praise for effective criticism of the government during the fuel crisis however he knew it would take another crisis to see that sort of return in the polls.
     
  11. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    Putting the Point Forward

    The rest of 2000 was met by the continued squaring off of parties in Parliament. Hague was frequently able to trounce Blair at Prime Minister’s Questions especially during the aftermath of the fuel crisis, accusing Blair of partaking in a “lifetime of u-turns” as well as “breaches every agreement and broken every promise made by New Labour”. Blair fired back by insulting Hague’s “bandwagon politics”. While these to and fro sessions were indeed entertaining there rarely emerged a certain winner as both were well rehearsed in defence and offense at the dispatch box.

    All of the remaining by elections were in relatively safe Labour Seats however The Pact seemed to take on average 15% of the Conservative vote compared to the last election which worried many Tories in marginal seats that Labour nearly took in their historic landslide victory 3 years ago. As 2001 began and Blair had effectively confirmed he would soon call an election the parties across the UK started their early preparations for the General Election. However they were disrupted by the Foot and Mouth Crisis with much of the country affected at least somewhat by the infection of animals, several hundred cases reported with Devon, Cumbria and Yorkshire the worst areas. Hague once again capitalised on the lacklustre Government response and although polls didn’t show a Conservative lead a few showed only a 2 or 3% Labour lead which raises Tory hopes for decent gains.

    Hague, in a Tory conference meeting, gave a rousing speech in March 2001 in what became known as the “foreign land” speech. Many saw it as a distinct amount of evidence that the Tory party had lurched to the right in a further attempt to hold UKIP votes as well as some making a comparison to Enoch Powell’s famous “Rivers of Blood” speech.

    “We have in Britain today a Government that has looked down on us with contempt for the views of the people it governs.

    There is nothing that the British people can talk about that this hostile Labour Government doesn't deride.


    Talk about Europe and they call you extreme. Talk about tax and they call you greedy. Talk about crime and they call you reactionary. Talk about fuel and they call you unaware of ‘the bigger picture’, Talk about immigration and they call you racist; talk about your nation and they call you Little Englanders.... This Government thinks Britain would be all right if we had a different type of people, a foreign land. I think Britain would be all right, if only we had a different government.

    A Conservative government that speaks with the voice of the British people.

    A Conservative government never embarrassed or ashamed of the British people.


    A Conservative government that trusts the people to make a right decision. This country must always offer sanctuary to those fleeing from injustice. Conservative Governments always have, and always will. But it's precisely those genuine refugees who are finding themselves elbowed aside by those others that every day are flooding our country.

    Things don’t have to be like this, things can change. It is up to you the voters, who have such a powerful say in our government, to vote Conservative this election. We can make Britain Great again. Come with me, and let’s restore this country from the foreign land it has become!”
     
  12. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    The 2001 Election Campaign
    Blair had Parliament dissolved on the 10th of May for a June 4th election. Labour still led with most opinion polls showing high single digit or low double digit leads for Blair’s party. However there was a high chance of voter apathy with many already believing they knew the results. Therefore, the Labour campaign stressed the importance of voting just as much as its success in government for the past 4 years. Party Election broadcasts focused on how much the Tories had ‘gone to the extremes’ on Europe as well as pointing out Hague’s strong support of Thatcher by humorously showing the infamous 1977 speech made by Hague at the age of 16 to the Conservative Party Conference. Blair’s continued appearance as a compassionate family man also won over many swing voters like he had done in 1997. Indeed, with what was seen as a solid and effective Labour campaign, it was often wondered if the real battle of this election was for 2nd place.

    The Conservatives were hoping to keep their position as the official opposition as well as put a dent in Blair’s majority with a target of getting seat numbers to around 200. The campaign focused on the four vote winners of Conservative policy or as the media called it ‘The F.E.E.L. Campaign’. This stood for Family, Economy, Europe and Law. Hague’s Image was damaged by a newspaper poll in The Daily Telegraph which showed that roughly 63% of voters saw him as “a bit of a wally”. Thatcher campaigning enthusiastically for Hague was very much a double edged sword that would slightly help the Tories in the south whilst hurting them in the North. Hague did find success with his “Foreign Land” speech winning over many voters who may have been tempted to vote for one of the many fringe far right parties circulating the country.

    Ed Davey’s stances on the ‘Nanny State’ of New Labour was definitely putting a decisive dent in the Tory grip over small government advocates and as such diversified the Liberal Democrat’s voting base. Polling had been very favourable to The Pact and it was likely that the combined vote share of the two parties may be able to beat the alliances performance in 1983. Charles Kennedy proved to be a reoccurring thorn in the Lib Dems side as he was often keen to bring up that he was not a classical liberal and would frequently use the term ‘social democratic’ to describe his views. There was little the leadership of the party could do about this however as he was proven to be a popular figure who could win over voters with his warm persona as ‘Chatshow Charlie’ showing how he was seen as “not like the other politicians” and like Blair, had a human side to him.

    Kenneth Clarke campaigned enthusiastically for a vote for the ‘EuroTories’ as the press had called the Pro-Euro Conservative Party and his reputation as a man who stood up for his beliefs instead of sticking to party lines helped his public image well. In accordance to the electoral pact with the Lib Dems the EuroTories would be standing in roughly a third of seats in Great Britain, mostly safe Tory seats or seats where Lib Dems hadn’t had a noticeable preference there in the last election, whilst the Lib Dems would stand in the other two thirds. Clarke and Heseltine remained confident that The Pact could overtake the Conservatives as the official opposition as well as be in Government in some form by the end of the decade. Time would only tell if he was right.
     
  13. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    Election Night 2001
    “Welcome to the BBC coverage of Election Night 2001. In just a few minutes we will have our exit poll which gives us a clue as to how the night will proceed. As always we have Peter Snow with us taking us forward with the famous swingometer.” - David

    “Thank you David, tonight seems to be setting up to be a very exiting night indeed! Will Mr Blair win Labour another term in government? Will Mr Hague’s Conservatives pull through as the largest party? Or will The Pact make an electoral breakthrough of their own? I’ll be here throughout the night to give the results of swings up and down the country as well as the quite literal race to Number 10! This is shown by the 4 leaders here on a map of Downing Street that will fill in as the night goes on!” - Peter

    A few minutes later...

    “As Big Ben strikes 10 we now have the results of our exit poll. We asked thousands of people across the country in over 100 key marginal seats and hopefully they’ve been telling us the truth. The results are displayed on your screen.... now!” - David

    2001 General Election Exit Poll

    Labour: 410 Seats -8
    Conservatives: 155 Seats -10
    Lib Dems: 60 Seats +14
    Pro-Euro Conservatives: 8 Seats +8
    Others: 26 Seats -4

    “And our exit poll suggests another Labour landslide. Tony Blair has successfully secured that second term for Labour that was always his ambition. The margin of error suggests that the majority could even be above the historic 1997 landslide elections results. These results also show that despite all that hype William Hague built up about how there was “24 hours to save the pound” the Conservatives have made a small loss in seats, clearing bleeding support out to The Pact who have become the largest third party since Lloyd George in 1929. We are in for a historic night.” - David

    2001 General Election Results

    Labour - Tony Blair: 425 Seats +7 42.8% -0.4%

    Conservative - William Hague: 129 Seats -36 27.0% -3.7%

    Liberal Democrats - Ed Davey: 63 Seats +17

    Pro-Euro Conservative - Kenneth Clarke: 13 Seats +13

    The Pact combined voteshare: 25.7% +8.9%

    Others: 29 Seats -1

    Result: Labour Majority of 191
     
  14. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    Aftermath of the Election
    Tony Blair was mostly expecting his majority to hold up in the election but very few at Labour expected an increased majority. Blair was returned to Downing Street with a warm welcome and declared that Britain had voted “in confidence for another term of New Labour” and that Blair would do his best to “deliver on the trust the electorate has once again given us”. It was however noted that turnout has dropped from 71.3% in 1997 to 62.6%, a drop of nearly 10%. This was mostly attributed to many voters believing a second term for Blair was certain.

    Although the Conservatives had managed to remain as the official opposition they had lost 36 seats as well as the Lib Dems being able to ‘scalp’ two Shadow Cabinet ministers. Theresa May, the Shadow Education and Employment Secretary, had lost her Maidenhead seat to a strong challenge from Liberal Democrat Kathryn Newbound. Simon Green had also been able to unseat the Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary, Oliver Letwin, as the Lib Dem’s further improved on their performance in the West Country. The success of Daveys party had allowed them to break back into former heartlands such as Wiltshire with both Wiltshire North and Westbury returning Lib Dem candidates. Labour too had won some marginals that had previously narrowly stayed with the Tories in 1997 such as Bosworth, Canterbury as well as Boston and Skegness. Clarke and Heseltine too had managed to hold their seats as well as being joined by 11 other mps, some of whom were gains while some were other defected mps who had also held their seat.

    Naturally, the devastating losses for the Tory party quickly led to the resignation of William Hague as Conservative Party leader. He stated that the Conservatives would have to “rethink and reflect” as to why they weren’t able to get their message across to voters. However, while the Tories had lost significant support to Clarke’s party, their seat total could have been far worse if they had not managed to achieve the majority support of the far right vote. Therefore, Europe would prove to be an impossible hurdle in the steps forward.
     
  15. sarahz Well-Known Member

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    looks like more conservative defections both to the centre and possibly to the right are likely.
     
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  16. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    The Tories are definitely going to find it hard to win back their base without upsetting the UKIP types that allowed them to stay in 2nd place
     
  17. TerenceCrep Well-Known Member

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    Pretty interesting so far. Unusual to see a 'Tories pledge referendum earlier' TL where it backfires- intrigued to see where it goes!
     
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  18. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    Thanks! My view is that Thatcher or perhaps Major could have pushed through a referendum but 1997-2001 was a time where the Tories were especially weak.
     
  19. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

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    2001 Conservative Leadership Election
    Following the resignation of William Hague the Tory party was left at a crossroads. Hague’s reforming of the leadership election process now meant that mps would vote until only 2 candidates were left upon which Tory party members would decide between the two. The first round was scheduled for June 16th and 4 men put their name forward. First to enter was the man who had been heir apparent for many years now, Michael Portillo, who had long sought after the leadership. Michael Howard, candidate in 1997 and representing a continuation of Hague’s policies, also announced his intention to run once again however his chances were a lot higher this time. Shadow Defence Secretary Iain Duncan Smith made a surprise entry advocating for a return to the neoliberal Thatcherism of the 1980s. Finally, Tim Yeo would enter to represent the more moderate wing of the Tory party and advocate an attempt to win back voters of Clarke’s party.

    Conservative Party Leadership Election First Round

    Michael Portillo: 40 31.0%
    Michael Howard: 32 24.8%
    Iain Duncan-Smith: 24 18.6%
    Tim Yeo: 33 25.6%

    The first round would show little in the way of a decisive frontrunner however this would be changed by the withdrawal of Iain Duncan-Smith from the campaign and his subsequent endorsement of Howard for the second ballot. This would allow Howard to overtake Yeo however Duncan-Smiths supporters would not all follow his endorsement.

    Conservative Party Leadership Election Second Round

    Michael Portillo: 50 38.8%
    Michael Howard: 47 36.4%
    Tim Yeo: 32 24.8%

    Tim Yeo, who had lost one supporter to Portillo since the last round, would be eliminated from the contest and as such the final round would be the Conservative Party members voting between Michael Portillo and Michael Howard. Yeo would give a reluctant endorsement of Howard and many attribute this as the factor that led to the increase in support for Howard that pushed him over the top.

    Conservative Party Leadership Election Final Round

    Michael Portillo: 85,626 46.3%
    Michael Howard: 99,311 53.7%

    Michael Howard would narrowly best Portillo to become leader of the Conservative Party in a close final round. Emphasising party unity, Portillo would congratulate Howard and Howard would return the favour by announcing that all candidates would be welcomed back into the Shadow Cabinet with open arms. The Tories had a new leader, but would Michael Howard be able to overcome the difficult position the 2001 General Election had handed the party?
     
  20. Shads Peter Shores Ghost

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2018
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    [​IMG]
    New Parliament, New Tory Leader
    The first days of Blair’s second term in government were met by scandal that led to Nick Brown, Minister for Agriculture Fisheries and Food, resigning as it was uncovered that the extent as well as the forewarning of the Foot and Mouth crisis had been held back from crucial figures such as farmers and the rest of the Blair ministry perhaps in an effort to save his parties lead in the polls. Brown would be quick to resign from his post as well as his safe seat in Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend and as such triggered the first by-election of this government. Blair’s first reshuffle since becoming Prime Minister would transfer close ally Margret Beckett to oversee the role.

    Michael Howard was quick to take advantage of the governments weakness in the first Prime Minister’s Questions with a well received first performance, asking “How can the Prime Minister’s government be trusted for another 4 or 5 years if they have let the people’s trust down within a week?”. Prime Minister’s Questions was also an opportunity for Howard to unveil his Shadow Cabinet which contained all the candidates for Tory leader especially in the 4 great offices of state. Howard’s cabinet included a few hold ons from Hague but Howard was keen to introduce some fresh faces with a lot more noticeable moderate Tory presence, perhaps due to influence from Yeo.

    Michael Howard Shadow Cabinet

    Leader of the Opposition - Michael Howard
    Shadow Chancellor - Michael Portillo
    Shadow Foreign Secretary - William Hague
    Shadow Home Secretary - Iain Duncan Smith
    Conservative Party Chairman - John Redwood
    Shadow Education and Employment Secretary - John Bercow
    Shadow Defence Secretary - Eric Pickles
    Shadow Health Secretary - Liam Fox
    Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary - Damian Green
    Shadow Food, Fisheries and Agriculture Secretary - Tim Yeo
    Shadow Environment Secretary - David Davis
    Shadow Transport Secretary - Phillip Hammond

    While the new Shadow Cabinet had a lot more moderate ministers Howard refused to go back on Hague’s pledge for an EU Referendum stating “The issue of whether or not Britain becomes nothing more than a province of a European superstate is more prevalent than it was in 1999 and therefore it is more important than ever that the people of this country get a say in how we will negotiate and work with Europe.”. With Hague now in the position of Shadow Foreign Secretary it was clear the commitment he had made 2 years ago would remain a flagship Conservative Party policy.
     
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