Theme: Parties & Elections | Content Type: Journal article

‘Thirteen Wasted Years’: A Strategy for Starmer?

Adrian Williamson


Office of U.S. House Speaker

| 1 min read

Before the 1997 Labour landslide, Roy Jenkins famously described Tony Blair as being ‘like a man carrying a priceless Ming vase across a highly polished floor’. Many think Keir Starmer appears even more diffident. This article argues that he should perhaps look for inspiration to the general election of 1964, the last occasion upon which Labour overturned a large Tory majority and secured its own majority. In 1964, Harold Wilson made great play of the charge that the Conservative governments of 1951–1964 had presided over ‘thirteen wasted years’. The nature and correctness of this case is examined, albeit that the charge may have been somewhat overstated. The parallels with the thirteen years of Conservative governments since 2010 are then analysed. The article concludes that there appear to be uncanny parallels between 1963/4 and the present. Not only have the Conservatives been in power for thirteen years, but the British economy is once more floundering relative to its peers.

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    Adrian Williamson

    Adrian Williamson is Research Associate, the Centre for Financial History, Darwin College, Cambridge and Honorary Professor, The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction, UCL.

    Articles by Adrian Williamson