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Political Strategy



Political Strategy


Barber, Stephen





Liverpool Academic Press









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Political Strategy - Barber, Stephen
Book Information

Full Description:

This book sheds academic light on the role of strategy in contemporary British party politics. It discusses the concept, nature and role of political strategy, introducing a new way of discovering how parties behave and re-examines events over the last quarter of a century. This book fills an important gap in the politics and history literature.
There is no study of strategy in contemporary British politics. Furthermore, unlike other books where strategy is seen as either a communication or campaigning term or, in pure political science, just about theoretical positioning, this book makes use of the strategy literature (which sits outside of political science) for the first time to help better understand the behaviour of political parties. Drawing on political history and taking a comparative approach, the book describes strategic behaviour in three arenas: leadership and organisational culture; the creation of critical mass, momentous, electoral support; and the state of strategic disorder when the party endures a failure of direction. Including ten extended interviews with key political players such as Charles Kennedy, Norman Lamont and Tony Wright, the book combines the theoretical discussion with select case studies producing a series of narrow pieces of contemporary history. The book is a study of contemporary British politics, producing a strategic history of the period. This ranges from the ascension of Thatcherism, to the rise of New Labour; the leadership decline of Foot to the deterioration of Duncan Smith; The disorder endured by Major to the struggles of Kinnock; the battle lines between Blair and Howard; the creation of the SDP, the spawning of the Liberal Democrats and its future under Kennedy.

Table of Contents:

Forward: Strategy after Hutton, Howard and Brent
Introduction: The Role of Strategy in British
Party Politics
Introduction to Party strategy and A Review of
Strategy and British Party Politics
Strategy and Political Studies
What is Strategy?
Resource and Capabilities - The Nature of
Political Parties
Book Structure
Rationality in Strategic Objectives and a
Strategic Review of Downs to Consider Party
Labour Exchange
Rationality in Office and on the Doorstep
Strategic Use of the Focus Group and The Question
of Creeping Rationality in Contemporary Politics
Surfacing of Downsian Politics?
The Realities of Focus Group Politics
Portfolio Theory and Scenario Analysis
Strategy for Elections, Strategy for Change and
Defining Objectives for Party Strategy
Mission: Office Seeking, Policy Pursuing
The Role of the Campaign
Parties as Inter-Election Formations
Strategy for Elections, Strategy for Change
Party Leadership and Organisational Culture and
How Kinnock's Labour party struggled with
strategy 1983-87 while Blair's acquiesced 1994-97
Party Culture
Kinnock's Labour Party 1983-1987
Blair's Labour Party 1994-1997
Critical Mass Strategies and a comparison of
elections in 1979, 1997 and 1992
Critical Mass Politics
Exit Strategies and Critical Mass
1979 and 1997 Compared
Disorder and Strategy and Misdirection in Labour
under Foot, the Tories under Major and Hague and
how Thatcher prevailed
Strategic Disorder
Disorder in the Labour Party 1979-1983
Disorder in the Conservative Party 1992-1997
Disorder in the Conservative Party 1997-2001
Emergent Lessons the Thatcher Administration
after 1979
Case Study: The Strategy of the Centre -
Launching the SDP and the Strategy for the
Centre Since 1981
The Strategy of Launching a New Party
The Rationality Argument and the Formation of the
Strategy in Splitting: The role of the SDA and
the Search for an 'Event'
Liberal Reaction and Strategic 'Alliance'
Managerialism and Organisational Culture
Strategic Reasoning of the SDP
Merger, Disorder and the Abandonment of
Constructive to Effective Opposition
Centre Strategy
The Temporary Demise of Strategic Thinking and
Decline of Strategy in Blair's Government and
Duncan Smith's Opposition after 2001
Tony Blair's Second Term
Duncan Smith's Opposition
Conclusion: A Strategic Examination of the Party

Author Information:

Stephen Barber is Research Director of the European Research Forum at London Metropolitan University.


"Fascinating and immensely readable. This outstanding book should certainly establish itself as a key text within political science and is all the more substantive for its contribution to contemporary history. The analysis is supplemented by a series of stimulating interviews which provide textural depth to a precise and worthwhile study." -- Professor Stephen Haseler, London Metropolitan University. "An excellent and very interesting book." -- Richard Holme. "It is rarely easy to combine elegant political theory with messy political practice. Stephen Barber manages to do so. His insights from management theory are highly instructive about the way political parties work. But these insights are firmly grounded in the candid and thoughtful interviews he has managed to obtain from a range of political practitioners." -- Brendan Donnelly, Director Federal Trust. "Original and penetrating. A valuable contribution to the subject." -- Shaun Woodward, MP.

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