David Butler

David Butler is a lecturer in politics at Nuffield College, Oxford, and a leading authority on voting behaviour.

Problems for the SDP

David Butler, 1 October 1981

Six months after its birth, the Social Democratic Party remains an astonishing force in British politics. The opinion polls continue to put an SDP/Liberal alliance ahead of Conservative or Labour – and the SDP ahead of the Liberals. Voting habits have remarkable persistence but the prophecies of last spring that the SDP would soon go the way of all breakaway parties are becoming less confident. It begins to be conceivable that the new alliance will actually break the mould of British politics. Britain is likely to have an SDP/Liberal government after the next election unless one of three things happens:

Sizing up the Ultra-Right

David Butler, 2 July 1981

Britain in recent years should have been a breeding ground for parties of the ultra-Right. A country humbled by the loss of its imperial role, by its industrial decline compared to other major – and minor – powers, and by the failure of the nostrums prescribed by alternating governments, meets most of the textbook requirements for the growth of extremism. Some profess to see in the monetarist takeover of the Conservative Party, or in the Labour Party’s lurch to the left, a fulfilment of these requirements. But Margaret Thatcher and Tony Benn are committed Parliamentarians and, despite all the rhetoric about the reactionary Conservative Government or Marxists in the Labour Party, no policy that has been, or is likely to be, enacted at Westminster ranges beyond what has proved acceptable in civilised democracies elsewhere. Indeed, current developments suggest a move back to the middle, as Conservative and Labour each seeks to recapture the neglected centre ground which recent opinion polls have shown to be so extensive.

Redheads in Normandy: The 1997 election

R.W. Johnson, 22 January 1998

No one this time last year would have predicted a victory for the Left in France, yet it is in a sense far easier to explain Jospin’s triumph than Blair’s. President Chirac, elected...

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2000 AD

Anne Sofer, 2 August 1984

When future historians come to write about the 1983 General Election, these two books will be essential reading. One is a thorough compilation of the evidence, and the other a brilliant line...

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But for Britain’s antediluvian electoral system the House of Commons would now comprise around 160 Alliance, 180 Labour and 280 Conservative MPs – and the new books by David Butler...

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Rational Switch

Vernon Bogdanor, 17 June 1982

It was R. B. McCallum who invented the word ‘psephology’ to describe the study of elections. Yet in 1955 he wrote of the act of voting as the last haven of free choice in an...

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Off-Screen Drama

Richard Mayne, 5 March 1981

You’d think it would be prime-time viewing. A Frenchwoman, a survivor of Hitler’s death camps, helps an ingenious young Dutch Socialist to outwit the Scrooge-like Establishment....

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