‘It’s the economy, stupid!’ Bill Clinton’s campaign manager declared in the 1992 US presidential election, explaining the importance of effective economic management to electoral success (Pryce et al., 2015). This is borne out in British electoral fortunes too. A generation before, in 1959, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan boasted that the growing postwar economy meant ‘You’ve never had it so good!’, while advertisements for his party proclaimed ‘Life’s better under the Conservatives. Don’t let Labour ruin it’. Labour’s Harold Wilson won the 1964 and 1966 elections largely on his perceived economic mastery, only to lose in 1970 after the devaluation of sterling. Economic problems contributed substantially to the defeats of Heath in 1974, Callaghan in 1979 and Major in 1997. Labour’s wins in 2001 and 2005 can be attributed to Gordon Brown’s apparently successful management of the economy. By 2006, the authors of this book felt that Labour had ‘captured the record of economic competence previously enjoyed by the Conservatives, with a record of low inflation and relatively low unemployment’ (Leach et al., 2006, p. 358). Yet Brown was undermined by the impact of the global economic crisis of 2008. Thus management of the economy has often seemed to determine, or at least strongly influence, the outcome of elections and the fate of governments and politicians.
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