Who was more popular – Thatcher or Blair?
Most of us who were involved in left wing politics in the late 1970s/early 1980s remember the crushing Tory majorities and a real sense of gloom that descended as the decade went on. There was a growing sense that Labour faced a mountain to climb and some wondered if the political left was doomed altogether.
The tables turned after 1997 and actually, Tony Blair’s victories in 1997 and 2001 were far more crushing than Thatcher’s victories in terms of seats won. But the popular support for Thatcher in the 80s, in terms of votes, was equal to Blair. What had changed was the effect of the stronger third party – the Lib Dems – which allowed Labour in the late 90s to take more Tory seats than they otherwise might have done.
1979: Conservative win – 339 seats/43.9% of vote.
1983: Conservative win – 397 seats/42.4% of vote
1987: Conservative win – 376 seats/42.25% of vote
1997: Labour win – 418/43.2% of vote
2001 – Labour win – 412/40.7% of vote