What were the decisive factors determining the outcome of the 2001 general election (UK)?

Essay by ClaudetteHigh School, 12th grade October 2003

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There were many factors contributing to the outcome of the 2001 general election, some more important than others. The decisive factors include media influence, dealignment, tactical voting, the leadership of parties, the performance of the government, the party's campaign and issue/judgmental voting.

The media is an important factor in elections as it has influence over the voting public. It has become particularly more influential as traditional support for certain parties has weakened and people are more open minded and susceptible to persuasion. The majority of the media have traditionally supported the Conservatives but the tabloids, as well as the guardian and the observer are all now Labour supporters. The media was hostile and critical towards the Conservatives and Labour received highly favourable treatment, which was important to Labour's victory. The media felt Labour was fit for another term and Labour benefited greatly from the agenda that the media had set for the election.

However, it could be that newspapers are not actually influencing their readers, but merely confirming their existing opinion on certain parties. Newspapers could be following the majority of readers opinions rather than leading them, to ensure they avoid offending readers.

Another factor contributing to the outcome of the election is dealignment. Dealignment is when people stop voting in the traditional way and feel less related to their party, this means the electorate have become unpredictable and more likely to switch parties than previously. An example of dealignment is class voting, although there is still a relationship between class and voting, 1997 saw the lowest level of class voting. The relationship between age and voting has also weakened with the Conservatives beginning to loose the older vote. Although certain groups of people vote a particular way, the relationship between groups of society and voting is weakening.

The increase...