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.

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