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Why winning got so difficult: the changing political rules

The ground rules have been rewritten, so all sides of the spectrum can feel frustrated at once

By Tom Clark   March 2019


Everything in British politics used to guard against stalemate. Even close-fought elections provided clear winners. Vote shares were often close: in 1950, 1951, 1955, 1964, 1970, February and then October 1974, the rounded gap between the parties was no more than three points, and less than a point in three cases. But only one of these votes, February 1974, failed to return a PM with a working majority, and that was addressed by the October re-run.

Through the 80s, 90s and noughties, one party was…

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