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Author Topic: What if Labour had won the 1992 Election?  (Read 5153 times)
Ben.
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« on: July 27, 2004, 09:53:47 am »


In 1992 many expected the Labour Party to defeat the Conservative Party under John Major but thanks to an aggressive campaign on the part of the conservatives (directed by Chris Patton, who incidentally lost his Bath seat in the election to the LibDems) and some failures on the part of the Labour Party and its Leader Neil Kinnock the Conservatives where returned to government with a small majority of between 20-30 (can’t remember exactly what it was).

Despite this exit polls on election night predicted that no party would gain and overall majority but that Labour under Kinnock would be the largest party in the commons and so get “first dibbs” on forming a government, probably in coalition with the Liberal Democrats under Paddy Ashdown.

Now what would it have been like and how would recent history have changed had…

1.) Labour emerged as the largest party in the commons, however without an overall majority had been forced to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

or…

2.) Labour had won an overall majority of between 15-25 seats (?).    

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Neil Kinnock


Note: In a Labour government Kinnock has repeatedly said that he intended to have…



John Smith as his Chancellor (a old fashioned party right-winger who would succeed Kinnock as Labour leader in our history and  lead the party until his tragic death two years later from a hear attack).

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Roy Hattersely as the Home Sectary and Deputy Prime Minister (again an old fashioned rightwing Labour “revisionist” and pro-European who would come to believe that Blair had gone “too far” despite initial enthusiasm for Blair’s leadership).

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Tony Blair as Employment Sectary (after his brave stand against the unions over the “closed shop” Blair was a rising star of the party and well liked both by the party, the media and the public at large, he is of course today the British Prime Minister and Labour Leader).

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NOTE: This is a photo of a young Tony Blair Smiley

Gordon Brown as Trade and Industry Sectary (he is of course the highly favoured successor to Blair and the Chancellor of the Exchequer now but he was a strong ally of both Blair’s and Smith’s and was broadly speaking closer (politically) to Blair than Smith in his radical views on modernisation of the Party).

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Gerald Kaufman as Foreign Sectary (a very gifted politician and a keen moderniser within the party, he has remained a strong supporter of Tony Blair and was a great ally of Neil Kinnock’s).

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Robin Cook as Health Sectary (a modeniser and close ally of Kinnock’s hailing from the centre of the party, the “soft left” as it is often called, he served in senior posts within the Blair government until he resigned over the Iraq war and has since then limited his criticisms of the government to Iraq and some of its approach to law and order).

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Bryan Gould as Environment Sectary (a leftwinger and Kinnock ally who was sceptical over some of the reforms of the party that Kinnock had introduced).

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Others would have been…

Frank Dobson

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George Robertson

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Harriet Harman

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And John Prescott
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And had their been a Lib-Lab coalition…


Paddy Ashdown the Liberal leader would probably have been appointed either Home Sectary or Foreign Minister.

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…while Mengize Campbell would proably have be appointed as either Defenbce Sectary or sent to a services post such as education or health…

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…and someone like Simon Hughes may have arrived in a very very junior role as, perhaps, chief sectary to the treasury…

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…well I think that’s exhaustive enough Smiley    
« Last Edit: July 27, 2004, 06:25:28 pm by Sec. Treasury. Ben »Logged
Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2004, 02:28:33 pm »

Missed out this guy:

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Derek Foster as Chief Whip (which would be a very importent position as the Government would have either a very small majority or none at all), who's very much an old style County Durham Labourite.

Oh and Short wouldn't get a cabinet job: Kinnock hates her.
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Michael Z
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2004, 02:56:02 pm »

After a narrow defeat in the 1992 election, John Major hangs on for another month before eventually stepping down under pressure from numerous Conservative backbench MPs. Thus the Tory leadership contest is thrown wide open. The contestants include:


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Kenneth Baker
One of the most experienced Tory MPs. Environment- and Education Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, Home Secretary under John Major.

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Kenneth Clarke, Health Secretary under Thatcher, Education Secretary under Major. Seen as a potential Shadow Chancellor.

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Michael Heseltine, the man who unseated Thatcher and finished second in the 1990 leadership contest. However, still somewhat unpopular within the Party.

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Douglas Hurd, Foreign Secretary under Thatcher and Major. Finished 3rd in the 1990 leadership contest. Widely seen as the favourite, alongside the experienced Kenneth Baker.

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Normal Lamont, Chancellor Of The Exchequer under Major and one of the contest's dark horses.

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Michael Portillo, a young upstart and a darling of the Thatcherite right. (How times change....)

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John Redwood, representing the nationalistic wing of the party.

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Malcolm Rifkind, Transport Secretary under John Major.

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Norman Tebitt, erstwhile leader-in-the-making and once Chairman of the Party.


Who also runs? Who wins? Who makes the Shadow Cabinet? And do the Tories have a chance of beating Kinnock's Labour government in '97?
« Last Edit: July 27, 2004, 03:04:08 pm by Michael Z »Logged
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2004, 03:18:02 pm »

Here is a timeline based on this very idea I started writting last year. Ideas or comments welcomed.

What if Labour had won in 1992?

“See you in Government”
Neil Kinnock to the Shadow Cabinet on March 11th 1992, the day the election was called.

I warn you not to be ambitious
I warn you not to be qualified
I warn you not to be successful
I warn you not to buy shares
I warn you not to be self-employed
I warn you not to accept promotion
I warn you not to save
I warn you not to buy a pension
I warn you not to own a home

John Major, Speech, March 19th 1992

Now is the time to make our country safer, cleaner, more secure.
Now is the time for Britain to pull together.
Now is the time for change
Now is the time for Labour.

Neil Kinnock, at the “Sheffield Wednesday” rally, April 1st 1992

The sun is out, and so are the Tories

Neil Kinnock, after voting on election day, Thursday April 9th 1992

April 9th 1992 is often seen now as one of the turning points in British political history. I was the day after almost 13 years of Conservative rule, that the Labour Party under Neil Kinnock was returned back into Government. Throughout the campaign, the opinion polls all predicated a Labour win and these turned out to be correct, as did Neil Kinnock`s prediction at the start that he would enjoy a majority of 20 seats (it would be 1 more in the end).
Despite 7 out of 11 national newspapers urging their readers to vote Conservative, the opposition still gained victory. During the final days of the election, both Leaders saw the tide turning, after the famous “Sheffield Wednesday” rally on Wednesday April 1st, the polls showed a 4-7 point lead to Labour.
Neil Kinnock gave at the rally what has since been described as the “speech of his political life” and the “turning point on the 1992 election”. As the Labour leader reached the podium, the packed audience including many showbiz celebrities roared its approval, but not stopping to take in the electric atmosphere, he went straight into his speech.
(NOTE: Here is the POD of this timeline- In OTL Kinnock recalls “I allowed myself to inhale, just for a few seconds”, and then he raced up to the podium and punched the air 3 times and shouted “Well, all right” 3 times, it looked awful. He later admitted he should have paused- and a few seconds changed history).
On the day of the election, after visiting the Conservative committee rooms in Huntingdon, Norma Major asked her husband “You don’t think we are going to win do you”, he replied “no, and neither do you” she nodded back “ I think the games up” he said.
That evening, both Leaders where in front of there TV`S in there constituencies. Both ITV and the BBC exit polls announced at 10.PM as the polls closed across the country a small workable Labour majority (ITV 15 seats, BBC 23 seats).
At 11.05, just 1 hour and 5 minutes the first result came, it was from Sunderland South. The Labour Candidate, Chris Mullin had a large smile on his face as he appeared on stage, Labour had won with a 7.5 % swing (they needed 7% swing to gain a overall working majority), “That’s it” declared Neil Kinnock watching the events “I think we are going to make it”. At 11,23 the key marginal seat at Basildon in Essex was announced, if Labour won here it was almost certain back in power- they did with a massive 10% swing. Down in Wales, Kinnock said “That’s it, if we’ve won Basildon, we’ve won the election” he was right.
As result after result came in, Labour was clearly winning. At just after two in the early morning on Friday April 10th, Prime Minister John Major called Kinnock who was on his way back to London from Wales, to formally concede defeat; he congratulated him on his success, and wished him the best for the future. As his car roared towards London another part of the drama of election night was being played out in Bath as the Conservative Party Chairman, Chris Pattern and the person who had planned their campaign was beaten narrowly by the Lib Dems- The Conservative Party had just lost a possible future leader.
At 10. AM that Friday morning, the outgoing PM, appeared on the road outside number 10.
“When the curtain falls it is time to get off the stage, and that is what I propose to do. I shall advise my Parliamentary colleagues to select a new leader of the Conservative Party. I will say no morning. I have an appointment with her Majesty the Queen in a few minutes to tender my resignation so that a new Government may be formally appointed”.
By noon, Neil Kinnock left Labour Party headquarters at Walworth where he had been since arriving back in the capital around 6. AM, to drive to Buckingham Palace where he was asked to form the country’s first Labour administration since 1979.
Having kissed hands at Buckingham Palace, Prime Minister Kinnock returned to cheering throngs in Downing Street.
1992 General election result
Labour 336 Seats
Conservatives 263 seats
Lib Dems 27 seats
Others 25 seats
A Labour majority of 21 seats.

The Lib Dems managed to win narrowly in Portsmouth South, Hazel Groove and St Ives. Labour picked up the closest win of the night at Battersea where the Alf Dubs overturns an 857 majority to defeat John Bowis by just 11 votes after 5 re-counts, for the narrowest result of the night.

The Conservative Party Leadership Contest
John Major’s decision to resign as Party Leader was expected, although many thought he would delay his announcement until later on in the year given the narrowness of the Labour majority.
Ken Clarke, the former Education Sec, wasted no time in announcing his candidacy. At lunchtime on Friday, April 10th, barely 3 hours after Major’s resignation, he told the BCC “I certainly intend to be a candidate in the Leadership election”.
Michael Hesseltine, who Major had beaten for the leadership less than 18 months before, announced the following day he would not be standing for the job, but gave his backing for Ken Clarke.
The former Trade and Industry Sec, young right-winger Peter Lilley appeared on the BBC`S “On the Record” on the Sunday following the election to announce his won decision to stand.
The next day saw three more candidates join the race; former Chancellor Norman Lamont who had helped to run the Major campaign in 1990 launched his own with an a  article in the “Times”. The former Home Sec, and Party Chairman under Margaret Thatcher, Ken Baker announced his won decision to run at an afternoon press conference, and finally former Employment sec Michael Howard said that he would run as well.
Malcolm Rifkind, the popular former Transport Sec said he would not be standing, as did former Defence sec Tom King, both who publicly asked former Foreign Sec Douglas Hurd to stand. Hurd who had come 3rd in 1990 was reluctant to stand at first but two days later after several more open messages from fellow former cabinet members including Ian Laing and Peter Brooke; he decided to put his name forward.
Popular backbencher, and right-winger Michael Portillo decided after much decision decided not to stand.
1ST Ballot- May 12 1992
No candidate was expected to poll the 132 votes required to win outright in the first ballot and this was reflected in the result.
1.   Douglas Hurd 60
2.   Ken Clarke 54
3.   Norman Lamont 51
4.   Ken Baker 44
5.   Michael Howard 33
6.   Peter Lilley 21
The bottom 4 candidates now here all out of the race. Norman Lamont was the surprise package, as he beat Ken Baker into 3rd place, both had claimed during the campaign that “they where the heir’s of Thatcher”- but many had voted for Lamont as he was newer face to Baker (and younger). Howard and Lilley as Junior members of the last cabinet where not truly expected to win any way, but they both declared there support to Hurd, whilst Baker told his supporters to vote there own way.
2nd Ballot- May 19th 1992
The race now had to go to a 2nd ballot on May 19th. Inevitably perhaps the three remaining candidates focused their attention to why the Tories had lost the election. Lamont claimed they had lost because “the campaign was not Thatch rite enough, to soft in the middle” where as Clarke said” we lost not because of policy but because people decided to give Labour the benefit of doubt”. Hurd publicly kept quite but privately thought the Major campaign was not bright enough, but most of the arguments of the Thatcher years had been won.
1.   Douglas Hurd 101
2.   Ken Clarke 93
3.   Norman Lamont 69
Norman Lamont was eliminated.
3rd Ballot –May 21st 1992
The final round now saw both candidates court Norman Lamonts support, and on the day between the 2nd and 3rd ballots Lamont urged his supporters to back Douglas Hurd, although he did say that if Ken Clarke did win- he would serve in the Shadow Cabinet. One high profile Conservative who had so far remained quite decided now was the time for action. Margaret Thatcher could not bear the idea of Ken Clarke becoming leader and urged people to vote for Douglas Hurd- it was enough with Lamonts backing to tip the contest Hurds Way.
1.   Douglas Hurd 151
2.   Ken Clarke 112
Ken Clarke immediately announced after the result that been offered the post of Deputy Leader and Shadow Home Sec, and had accepted the offer. All the other leadership candidates where also in the new shadow cabinet.
Norman Lamont became shadow sec for Defence, Michael Howard Shadow Chancellor, Ken Baker shadow Foreign Sec, with Peter Lilly shadowing Education, with Michael Hesselntine at Shadow DTI. Tom King Shadow Health Sec, Malcolm Rifkind Employment. Michael Portillo became Chief sec to the Treasury, which pleased the right of the party.

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Ben.
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2004, 05:22:52 pm »


Bunny would you have contributed to the alternative history discussion site before? I think I remember you from there Smiley  
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Ben.
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2004, 06:46:10 pm »

A Lib-Lab coalition would (I believe) have been the most interesting outcome I’d give a Kinnock lead coalition government a fair chance of succeeding, Maastricht and “Black Wednesday” (that would probably still have occurred) would have been problematic.

On Maastricht the support of the LibDems and Pro-European conservatives would have cancelled out the likely rebellion from euro-sceptic Labour leftwingers.

On “Black Wednesday”, I get the sense that Smith would have been able to cushion the blow to an extent with some form of devaluation however this would still be a significant blow to the new government, however it would not be dissimilar to what happened to Harold Wilson’s first government when it held a precarious majority between 1964 and 1966 and yet still managed to “hang on” and then went on to enjoy a near landslide in 1966.

Within the Labour government the very people who where leading figures in the creation of “new labour” such as Philip Gould, Peter Mandelson and Alistair Campbell would have all commanded a great deal of influence (all where close to Kinnock and Campbell was “pencilled in” to be Kinnock’s press sectary), this would mean that with the exception of one or two modest efforts at renationalisation (I think the one area to be nationalised was British telecom) the Labour government would have been pretty moderate in its approach. Noting the way in which after 1994 Clinton became an almost bi-partisan President as a means of enacting legislation through a hostile congress (in a cousous mirroring of the style of French President Mitterrand) Kinnock may have adopted a similar approach, taxes would have remained low and generally the Labour government is able to take advantage of the divisions within the conservative party over Europe and Taxation to garner sufficient votes within the house of commons to be able to pass legislation despite the howls of discomfort from the Labour Left.

Between 1995 and 1996 with the economy entering a period of sustained growth and with Maastricht, “Black Wednesday” and the BSE crisis behind the Government and with the Lib-Lab Coalition still holding strong Kinnock would probably go to the polls. By this time of course John Smith would probably have died and Gordon Brown would most likely have replaced him as Chancellor while at the same time Roy Hattersely may well have been moved from the Home office to make way for the more popular and moderate Tony Blair. With the Conservatives under either Clark or Hurd (Clark most likely) and terribly divided over Europe and Spending Plans the odds would be very good that Kinnock would be able to gain a solid working majority.                    
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Bunnybrit
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2004, 03:41:08 am »

Glad someone remembers me? I must be famous LOL!!!!
I never did finish the timeline.
1992 was the first real general election I understood and stayed up to watch on TV, I was almost 17 at the time so I couldnt vote but I remember at the time how everone thought it was going to be a Hung Parliament at least, a Tory victory was hardly mentioned at all by the media at the time.
Mind you my Dad told me 2 days before the election Major would win with a majority of around 30 seats, he wasnt far off but I thought him mad at the time!!!!
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2004, 06:08:11 am »

One thing I'm sure of: the Mass Pit Closures of the early '90's wouldn't have happend.
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2004, 09:32:09 am »

In many ways I'm glad Labour didn't win in 1992. The 1992-97 years ruined the Tory party, they destroyed their image of economic competance and alienated a vast proportion of their voter base. It has cast them into the wilderness for the forseeable future and I for one am glad about that. Had Labour won in 1992, we might be stuck with another wretched Tory government by now.
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Ben.
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« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2004, 10:47:55 am »

Say that the Lib-Lab coalition weathers the trials of the period 1992-1995 and is returned to government with a majority of say 50-70 seats in April 1995, Could the Liberal and Labour Party’s eventually merge? Roy Jenkins in his last years worked hard to make this a reality under the Blair government and Blair and Ashdown where both no averse to the idea, many on the Labour Left as well as elements of the LibDems where against the idea but could it occur with a moderate legislative program and a divided Conservative Party I think there would certainly be a developing school of thought that might advocate such a merger…

If Kinnock remains until the 1999 general election and assuming a Labour victory (again parallels with the first Wilson government can be seen) Tony Blair then becomes leader ultimately from 1993 onwards the momentum was always with Blair while Brown largely let his moment pass in a similar series of events to those which happened in 1994 in OTL Blair emerges as Labour Leader on a more modest modernising platform with a more leftwing deputy leader (I would assume that Hattersely would step down as deputy leader after the 1995 general election). I think that with Blair as leader and a Labour Party strong and united and with a Liberal Democratic Party having overcome much of its earlier suspicion of the Labour Party as merger might very well become a possibility between 1999-2003.
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Bunnybrit
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« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2004, 05:33:27 pm »

There is of course as well as what I would describe as the tory party "wet dream" about the 1992 election.
That is the party would be better off now if it had lost that election and be back in Government.The idea is based on the idea that Labour and Prime-Minister Kinnock would have been some terrable in office that the Torys would have won the next election in 1996/1997.
The idea of course does in some areas make sense bit speaking as a Conservative Party member (and failed local council candidate at the June elections) I think is just wishfull thinking.
I think Gordon Brown would came out of a Labour Government 1992-1996/97 stronger than Tony Blair, but then again it would depend on how Smith did as chancellor assuming he dies in May 1994 as per the real world.
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