The changing strategies of minority government and opposition during the Callaghan administration, 1976-1979

Peacock, Timothy Noel (2015) The changing strategies of minority government and opposition during the Callaghan administration, 1976-1979. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The 2010 General Election and subsequent coalition government brought groundbreaking changes to the conduct of UK politics, challenging recent British political history’s encapsulation within the dominant paradigm of the majoritarian ‘Westminster model’, and raising the prospect of further indecisive elections, not least evident in the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming 2015 General Election. These developments have also encouraged a rereading of past British minority governments, previously relegated to a status of either inherent weakness or aberration. Seminal works in the study of minority governments (Kaare Strom, 1990, 2006) have tended to concentrate on international experience, and even more recent studies by the Constitution Unit in London which have sought to act as a guide to current political parties (‘Making Minority Government Work’ (2010)) have not considered past British administrations in any great depth.

This thesis provides a historico-political study of the two main parties’ strategic response to minority government during the Callaghan Administration of 1976-1979. The twin conclusions of this work are that both the Labour Government and Conservative Opposition showed greater consideration of strategies for dealing with minority government than has previously been appreciated by scholars, and that their actions are indicative of a distinct British tradition of minority government hitherto relatively unrecognised.

The first two chapters establish the study’s theoretical framework, chronological context of the Callaghan Government, and strategy-making process within the main parties.

Chapters 3-4 take in the alternative courses of action during Government formation and the changing approaches to managing legislative defeats, while Chapters 5-6 examine formal and informal interparty cooperation.

Chapters 7-8 consider strategies of electoral timing, as well as planning by both parties for future minority or coalition governments, while the remaining two chapters revisit the confidence vote that brought down the Government, and place Callaghan’s Administration within a wider reconceptualising of British minority government history.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Block Grant Partnership (BGP) Scholarships.
Keywords: minority government, strategy, hung parliament, parliament, coalition, labour, conservative, party, lib-lab, pact, liberal, snp, callaghan, thatcher, steel, 1970s, british, politics, political, theory, history, kaare, strom, election, 1979
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: O'Brien, Dr. Phillips
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Timothy Noel Peacock
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6812
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2015 14:26
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2019 13:27

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