Thatcher didn’t destroy the Tories. They were already a party in decline

The Conservative Party has been in steady decline since the Second World War, as the graph below depicting the Conservative share of the vote since the turn of last century shows.

It may be a little early in the week for a graph but this one is particularly cheering.

There has been a lot of talk since the death of Margaret Thatcher last week about the state she left the Tory party in – divided over Europe, unable to adapt to multicultural Britain and, ultimately, unelectable.

In an example of one of the many articles on the topic, the Economist summed things up when it spoke of how “troublesome Mrs Thatcher’s legacy is to a party that has won only one thin majority since she was bounced from power in 1990”.

If only the Tories’ problems were this straightforward.

In reality the party has been in a long and steady decline since the Second World War, as the graph below depicting the Conservative share of the vote since the turn of last century shows.

Source.

Add to this the fact that, when in office the Conservative Party has only increased its share of the vote once since 1945 – from 48 per cent in 1951 to 49.7 per cent in 1955. The 2010 general election was also the fourth election in a row that the Conservative party has failed to win a parliamentary majority.

It’s clearly not the legacy of Maggie that’s the problem for the Tories.

23 Responses to “Thatcher didn’t destroy the Tories. They were already a party in decline”

  1. Micklikeariot

    I’ve written before on the misuse of stats to condem the Tory Party. I’m not saying they are in decline or not, but your graph doesn’t prove either way. You’ve just joined the start point to the end point with a straight line. GCSE maths will tell you that is not a “trend”. That’s just a game of dot-to-dot.Depending upon where you chose to start and stop your graph you can draw any conclusion you like. Try it with Labour. You’ll find them in decline too. Means nothing. This article is propaganda.

  2. Micklikeariot

    I’ve written before on the misuse of stats to condem the Tory Party. I’m not saying they are in decline or not, but your graph doesn’t prove either way. You’ve just joined the start point to the end point with a straight line. GCSE maths will tell you that is not a “trend”. That’s just a game of dot-to-dot.Depending upon where you chose to start and stop your graph you can draw any conclusion you like. Try it with Labour. You’ll find them in decline too. Means nothing. This article is propaganda.

  3. Micklikeariot

    I’ve written before on the misuse of stats to condem the Tory Party. I’m not saying they are in decline or not, but your graph doesn’t prove either way. You’ve just joined the start point to the end point with a straight line. GCSE maths will tell you that is not a “trend”. That’s just a game of dot-to-dot.Depending upon where you chose to start and stop your graph you can draw any conclusion you like. Try it with Labour. You’ll find them in decline too. Means nothing. This article is propaganda.

  4. Micklikeariot

    I’ve written before on the misuse of stats to condem the Tory Party. I’m not saying they are in decline or not, but your graph doesn’t prove either way. You’ve just joined the start point to the end point with a straight line. GCSE maths will tell you that is not a “trend”. That’s just a game of dot-to-dot.Depending upon where you chose to start and stop your graph you can draw any conclusion you like. Try it with Labour. You’ll find them in decline too. Means nothing. This article is propaganda.

  5. Micklikeariot

    I’ve written before on the misuse of stats to condem the Tory Party. I’m not saying they are in decline or not, but your graph doesn’t prove either way. You’ve just joined the start point to the end point with a straight line. GCSE maths will tell you that is not a “trend”. That’s just a game of dot-to-dot.Depending upon where you chose to start and stop your graph you can draw any conclusion you like. Try it with Labour. You’ll find them in decline too. Means nothing. This article is propaganda.

  6. Micklikeariot

    I’ve written before on the misuse of stats to condem the Tory Party. I’m not saying they are in decline or not, but your graph doesn’t prove either way. You’ve just joined the start point to the end point with a straight line. GCSE maths will tell you that is not a “trend”. That’s just a game of dot-to-dot.Depending upon where you chose to start and stop your graph you can draw any conclusion you like. Try it with Labour. You’ll find them in decline too. Means nothing. This article is propaganda.

  7. Micklikeariot

    I’ve written before on the misuse of stats to condem the Tory Party. I’m not saying they are in decline or not, but your graph doesn’t prove either way. You’ve just joined the start point to the end point with a straight line. GCSE maths will tell you that is not a “trend”. That’s just a game of dot-to-dot.Depending upon where you chose to start and stop your graph you can draw any conclusion you like. Try it with Labour. You’ll find them in decline too. Means nothing. This article is propaganda.

  8. Micklikeariot

    I’ve written before on the misuse of stats to condem the Tory Party. I’m not saying they are in decline or not, but your graph doesn’t prove either way. You’ve just joined the start point to the end point with a straight line. GCSE maths will tell you that is not a “trend”. That’s just a game of dot-to-dot.Depending upon where you chose to start and stop your graph you can draw any conclusion you like. Try it with Labour. You’ll find them in decline too. Means nothing. This article is propaganda.

  9. Micklikeariot

    I’ve written before on the misuse of stats to condem the Tory Party. I’m not saying they are in decline or not, but your graph doesn’t prove either way. You’ve just joined the start point to the end point with a straight line. GCSE maths will tell you that is not a “trend”. That’s just a game of dot-to-dot.Depending upon where you chose to start and stop your graph you can draw any conclusion you like. Try it with Labour. You’ll find them in decline too. Means nothing. This article is propaganda.

  10. Michelvis

    There are many pro-myths peddled about Margaret Thatcher at the moment… that’s propaganda too… I can statistically represent myself on my dislike of conservative policies and my graph goes up exponentially by the day.. 😉

  11. Anthony Masters

    The reduced share of the public vote is also similar for the Labour party, which can be seen here from 1945: //www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/percentvote.htm
    Both pillars of the two parties are crumbling, as the Labour and Conservatives do not appear to be losing votes in the long run (from 1945) to each other, but to a glacial resurgence of the Liberal Democrats in their various guises. Votes for other parties have also broken the 10% barrier in the past two elections.
    Also, statistics software can be used to draw lines of best fit.

  12. Jane McQueen

    Indeed in a two party system this is exactly what this graph would show, however we don’t live in a two party system and live in a plural party system. So this graph is well irreverent and just being used by you to try and prove a point that does not actually exist. One could also infer looking at the bigger picture of the data over the same time that Labour have never been a popular party as they have never once got more than 50% of the national vote share.

  13. Ivor Cornish

    I don’t think they will care too much when democracy is further trashed, to the point of non-existence, and everything is privatised. .i.e. owned or controlled by either them, or their friends. They are continuing Thatcherite/New Labour policies.

  14. Selohesra

    She left Tories ultimately unelectable? – what part of evidenced based blogging completely whitewashes the 1992 election from history. A small majority granted – but would have been big labour majority if Labour had received that level of support. Oh and who got most votes last election – again if Labour had got that support ….

  15. Paul Hilton

    Multicultural Britain? No, only England is multicultural. The UK’s other nations are essentially monoracial and monocultural, unless the ruling classes have been lying to us on an industrial scale for the last few decades.

  16. micklikeariot

    the more I read this the more it makes me angry. It has just randomly picked data to make its point sound credible. Shall we do the same? OK – plot a graph of the Labour share of the vote since, and including, ’97. That’s 43% down to 29% of the vote over 13 years and 4 elections. Terminal decline?? Who knows?
    Without looking too much into all the figures (just like the author of this article) its hard to tell but my hypothesis would be that both of the main two parties are witnessing a decline since the mid last century. Looking at the graphs you would probably attribute this to the rise of the liberals. But that’s just an independent, un-biased, rational look at the figures. Who’d want to read that?

  17. Paul Hilton

    All the major parties are getting fewer votes. The number (or at least the percentage) of people bothering to vote has fallen vastly over the last few decades. If anyone from one of the major parties wants to know the reason for this decline, all they have to do is look in the mirror.

  18. Cole

    Both the Labour and Tory vote has broadly been in decline since 1951, the height of the two party system. This trend may go into reverse in 2015 if, as expected, the LibDem vote collapses from the 23% it got in 2010. The other wild card is the UKIP vote in a general election.

  19. SadButMadLad

    Either James Bloodworth is deliberately twisting the stats just like a down market tabloid to whip up a frenzy in Labour supporters, or he is just a stupid and doesn’t understand stats. Well in fact, he’s not even using anything related to statistical analysis. He’s just joining to arbitrary points in time with a straight line. What the comments are showing is that Labour supporters are not stupid, just James.

  20. robertcp

    I mostly agree but the fall in the Tory vote in 1997 was significant. The Tories have not had 40% of the vote or an overall majority since that General Election.

  21. Anthony Masters

    That’s certainly true, though we’ll have to see if this Conservative vote ceiling remains unbroken in 2015.

  22. fergusraymurray

    Looking at that red line, I do not think this word ‘steady’ means what you think it means.

  23. fergusraymurray

    Um… I don’t think this idea about Scotland would withstand a visit to Glasgow. Even Edinburgh has large Polish and Spanish populations, and a significant number of Asians of various sorts.

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