Talk:United Kingdom general election, 1970

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SNP & Plaid Cymru vote[edit]

By-election gains and losses are by convention not included in the overall gains/losses. So while the SNP are correctly shown as having gained 1 seat from 1966 (Western Isles), their 1967 by-election gain (Hamilton) and its subsequent loss in 1970 is ignored.

To be correct and consistent with the above, Plaid Cymru's 1966 by-election gain (Carmarthen) and its loss in 1970 should be ignored, showing a net gain/loss of 0. Signed by RodCrosby 08:44, 27 May 2006

Influence of Enoch Powell[edit]

How could Enoch Powell be credited with bringing 2,500,000 votes to the Conservatives from other parties when the total Conservative vote only increased by about 1,200,000? Ken Burch 10 March 2008 8:28 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 206.174.66.119 (talk) 07:28, 10 March 2008 (UTC)


Actually, the Conservative vote increased by 1,700,000 but there is no hard evidence that Enoch Powell contributed any of this. Heath made it clear during the campaign that he would not be re-admitted to the Tory front bench. The pro-Powellite user "Britannicus" broke the spirit, if not the word, of Wikipedia rules by adding a lengthy paragraph which included the notion that Powell added up to five million votes to the Conservative total. (This figures represents more than one third of the Tory vote). Britannicus further undermines the integrity of Wikipedia by constantly reverting the article to include this text whenever it is corrected. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.195.153.122 (talk) 23:16, 20 June 2010 (UTC)

Please provide references before including contentious statements such as "most psephologists contend" and "Heath's decision in 1968 to take on and defeat the far right in his own party had effectively been endorsed by the electorate in 1970". Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a place to air personal opinions and prejudices. RGCorris (talk) 16:22, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Yes, it is an encyclopedia. Why, then, did you restore a paragraph that advances the wholly unsustainable theory that Enoch Powell added up to five million votes to the Conservative total in the 1970 General Election? If Powell's influence was so great then why, when he urged people to vote for Harold Wilson in the February 1974 general election, did the Labour vote fall by half a million (despite an increase in turnout)? The user who originally wrote the offending paragraph (Britannicus) has consistently shown a clear right wing bias in his frequent contributions to Wikipedia. The other (Delaware-based) user who has in recent days been instrumental in restoring the aforementioned paragraph, describes himself as a 'nationalist'. It is not appropriate that such individuals should force their own interpretations on Wikipedia readers. The paragraph has now been deleted. Robin Taylor, 21:26 BST, 21 June 2010 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.195.103.170 (talk) 20:28, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Heffer is a far-right hack pundit. Admittedly, that doesnt mean he can't be reffed on wikipedia, but pundits are RS only for their own opinions, nothing else. Your edit represented his opinion as fact. BillMasen (talk) 05:27, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

The fact is that I have included sourced information on research into this election by academics, experts in the field. What the anonymous user has contributed are his own opinions. That is why he was reverted and that is why his edits are unacceptable to Wikipedia rules. He doesn't like the facts so he wants them deleted. That is what it comes down to.--Britannicus (talk) 17:35, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

I think you should quote the study directly. Heffer is not an academic, even if these other two guys are. BillMasen (talk) 17:50, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

I think that is unnecessary. Heffer is not an unreliable source, he is the standard reference on Powell, as acknowledged when the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography commissioned him to write their article on him. Here is what another Powell biographer, Robert Shepherd, has said after studying the evidence (including by Johnson and Schoen):
"Subsequent studies, however, analysed other sources, and they show that Powell had a decisive influence...Powell's impact during the campaign is indisputable. As the Nuffield election study reported, he received an extraordinary share of the election coverage in the national press...at times equalling or outdoing each of the three major party leaders...Morever, three of the major polling organizations – Harris, Gallup and NOP – concluded in their post-election analyses that Powell had influenced a substantial number of voters. NOP's evidence is the fullest and most persuasive, since they compared people's voting intentions during the campaign with how they finally voted. they found that 42 per cent said Powell had an influence, and that 60 per cent of this group admitted to having been influenced by him. Among the intending and actual Tory voters who mentioned him, 47 per cent were encouraged to vote Conservative, while only 6-7 per cent were discouraged. Among potential and actual Labour voters, 20 per cent were influenced towards the Tories by Powell. But his influence was greatest among non-voters, 65 per cent of whom admitted to having been influenced by him, seven out of eight in a pro-Tory direction...The findings of the other pollsters also indicate that Powell had an impact. Harris reckoned that Benn made the biggest mistake of the campaign by attacking Powell, since immigration was almost the only issue on which the Tories had a better poll rating than Labour. Moreover, Powell cam across better on television than almost any other politician, and had strongest appeal with working-class voters who had recently returned to Labour – 55 per cent obtained favourable impressions of him on television, as opposed to 25 per cent who had a bad impression. Likewise, Gallup found that 23 per cent of their sample said that his speeches had made them more inclined to vote Tory, against only 11 per cent saying they were less inclined. There was also a strong belief (50 per cent to 10 per cent) that Powell's speeches had helped and not hindered the Tories...the pollsters' findings are compelling, but a further indication of Powell's impact became available with the publication in 1975 of the second edition of the major study, Political Change in Britain, by David Butler and Donald Stokes. Their updated study showed that whereas in 1964 and 1966 voters had seen little difference between the parties on the issue of immigration, during 1969 and 1970 the electorate came to associate tough anti-immigration policies with the Conservatives. Donley T. Studlar and Douglas Schoen, two American academics who have studied this matter independently, both conclude that Powell was responsible for this change of perception, since his speeches between 1968 and 1970 gave the Tories a national reputation as the party that was most strongly opposed to non-white immigration. "Most of the electorate had heard of Powell," Studlar noted, "knew generally what his proposals on immigration were and were closer in their own positions to Powell than to the actual positions of the Labour and Conservative parties". Powell...had channelled this hostility [towards immigrants] into votes for the Conservatives...Although Butler and Stokes were cautious on the impact of immigration on the 1970 election, further analysis of their survey data supports the view that Powell made a strong impact. Schoen and R.W. Johnson confirmed MORI's conclusions, since they found that non-Tory Powellite voters were three times as likely to switch to the Conservatives as were anti-Powelites. Even racial liberals who were Powellite on other issues were ten per cent more likely than anti-Powellites to swing to the Tories. But Powell's views on immigration had the greatest impact. His popular support was based primarily upon his position on this subject, and his impact was strongest on the working-class, in the Midlands and the North, and on people aged over 45. By articulating the feelings of the public, he drew an otherwise politically disparate group of people to his support. Studlar concluded that the Tories profited substantially from the heightened perception of their being tougher than Labour on immigration, and was in no doubt that this was attributable to Powell. He calculated that the gain to the Tories from their advantage on immigration was equivalent to a national swing from Labour since 1966 of 1.3 per cent. In another study, W.L. Miller estimated that the Tory lead on immigration was worth a swing of about 1.5 per cent...if the precise calculations of this impact are correct, the Conservatives' advantage on immigration made the difference between victory and defeat. The national swing of 4.7 per cent to the Conservatives since the 1966 election enabled them to capture 77 seats from Labour and to win an overall majority of 30 seats in the Commons. If, however, the national swing to the Conservatives had been 3.6 per cent, or only 1.1 per cent less, the Labour government would have stayed in office with a few seats' lead over the Tories. According to the detailed studies, if voters had continued to perceive little difference between the parties on immigration, the swing to the Conservatives would only have been between 3.2 and 3.4 per cent. As a result, Wilson would have remained in Downing Street and Heath's days as Tory leader would have been numbered...Powell's impact on the 1970 election was extraordinary".—Robert Shephered, Enoch Powell. A Biography (London: Pimlico, 1997), pp. 401-403.
R. W. Johnson and Douglas Schoen, ‘The “Powell Effect”: or How One Man Can Win’, New Society, 22 July 1976, pp. 168-172.
Donley T. Studlar, ‘Policy Voting in Britain; the Colored Immigration Issue in the 1964, 1966 and 1970 General Elections’, American Political Science Review, LXXII, 1978, pp. 46-64.
W. L. Miller, ‘What Was the Profit in Following the Crowd?’, British Journal of Political Science, vol. 10, 1980, pp. 22-38.
R. W. Johnson, ‘Stick to the Latin’, London Review of Books, 23 January 1997, pp. 8-9.
Apologies for the extensive quotation but the facts need to be shown in order to defeat those editors who rely on prejudice in order to propagate lies. I'm not sure why Mr. Taylor should be taken seriously at all as he has on another website described the English flag as a "xenophobic flag", held it against me that I am of English ancestry (isn't that racist?), labelled me "unsettling", and urged other users of the forum he frequents to visit this article and undo edits.--Britannicus (talk) 19:46, 22 June 2010 (UTC)
Ok, I recommend that you cite this sherphard person as the source for this study. I think the study itself would still be better, but this will do. Presumably there have been academic rebuttals and editors should post them as they find them.
I have to say it is counter-intuitive to me. I assume you'd agree that Heath neither followed nor pretended he was going to follow Powell's prescriptions, so why would his xeno-mongering win the election? BillMasen (talk) 05:12, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
I've looked through the Studlar study noted above, and he has three key conclusions: most of the British public, at the time, was opposed to immigration; the Conservatives were perceived as more likely to restrict migration than Labour in 1970, an impression which had increased from 1964 and 1966, and was most marked among those who were most opposed to immigration; and that this change in perception was probably due to Powell, given that there was no significant change in party policies on the matter. The description at the start of his article states a much stronger version of this, claiming that the Conservatives gained an estimated 6.7% of the vote in 1970 due to Powell associating the party with restrictions on immigration. This conclusion is rather questionable; although some evidence for it is presented, Randell Hansen in Citizenship and immigration in Post-War Britain (2000) briefly surveys both it and several other studies, some of which contend that Powell had little or no effect on the election result. He is rather doubtful about Studlar's conclusions, stating "at the very least, Powell's effect was likely to have fired up the Conservative vote in constituencies which would have voted Tory in any event." Warofdreams talk 09:44, 23 June 2010 (UTC)
W, thank you.
This is exactly the reason someone like Mr Heffer is a bad source for facts rather than opinions. He makes a far-right driveby and moves on, and next week will be about something else. Both the study itself and the rebuttals should be mentioned in this article. BillMasen (talk) 07:54, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
No one who claims that William Ewart Gladstone is the finest leader Britain has had in 300 years can be described as "far right". Heffer is right-wing, not a fascist. Heffer is a reliable source, and should be used as such. I notice that before Warofdreams contributed I was the only user who had actually referred to sources rather than opinions.--Britannicus (talk) 16:36, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
No-one called him a fascist. I said he was far-right, and I don't see how the claimed admiration of Gladstone innoculates him from this charge. Gladstone was a man of his time and he held many opinions which today would place him well to the right of the modern Conservative party. This is a common tactic; hailing historical figures with then-moderate but now-reactionary views in order to appropriate these dead mens' respectability for one's own opinions.
You're using sources, and that's good, but think about the consequences if we treated all op-ed writers as factual sources. What Heffer said about Powell may have had some merit, but it wasn't the full story. And this situation is about as close to the truth as any pundit gets.
I could probably find a hundred comment pieces which say that the US government invented AIDS to kill black people, or that the Iraq war was about oil, or that David Cameron wants to tax the poor out of existence. Ergo, commentators are not reliable sources.
And nor can we pick commentators which we think are reliable. You think Heffer is reliable, I strongly disagree. I think the Economist's commentators are reliable, but you may disagree. A discussion on this subject is guaranteed to end in partisan divisions, with one group promoting its commentators and the other its own; a recipe for either edit warfare or ideological hegemony.
I realise that this response is rather long, but I think that full reasons should be given when rejecting a source. For more information, see Wikipedia:RS#Statements_of_opinion:
Some sources may be considered reliable for statements as to their author's opinion, but not for statements of fact without attribution. A prime example of this are Op-ed columns in mainstream newspapers. These are reliable sources, depending on context, but when using them, it is better to attribute the material in the text to the author.
BillMasen (talk) 04:20, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
Heffer wrote the authoritative biography of Enoch Powell, this is widely acknowledged. Heffer praised Gladstone for his implementation of free trade, extending elementary education and his hostility to imperialism. Gladstone's economic policies and his anti-imperialism are the polar opposite of far-right. You couldn't get a more un-far right politician. As you have repeatedly failed to point to any of Heffer's views which are far-right I think the charge can be safely dismissed as a smear. Heffer is a reliable source for Enoch Powell, I would say he the most reliable source on Powell we are ever going to get (perhaps apart from Powell's widow). I would like to see the article neutral but the only alternative edit put forward was someone's sourceless opinion.--Britannicus (talk) 21:43, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't care whether you believe that Heffer is far right, although anyone who has heard his views on, for example, northern ireland, could hardly escape the conclusion (his view is essentially that we should reinstate everything tried in the 1970s; Ulster Special Branch, etc.[1]. His view on the deficit is basically that we should soak the poor out of existence [2])
Whether he is far-right or not, his opinion column can never be a good source for a fact. This is WP policy as well as common sense. If you want to cite his biography of Powell, then do it directly.
Why not incorporate the citations for rebuttals that Warofdreams posted? Otherwise it will be one sided. BillMasen (talk) 03:38, 26 June 2010 (UTC)
Again there is nothing far-right in any of those two articles. In fact Heffer praises Home Rule for Ireland and in the other puts forward retrenchment in public spending and tax rises (rather than borrowing) to pay off the national debt. Both of these are Gladstonian policies. I did cite his biography of Powell directly in my edit, not his newspaper articles.[3] Perhaps you should have read it properly.--Britannicus (talk) 09:49, 26 June 2010 (UTC)

Is there any reason why the Shepherd biography above hasn't been referenced in the article? Whatever one's opinions of the man, it is surely an objective fact that in 1970 Powell was one of the most popular and influential politicians in the country, so the article is surely at fault in not mentioning his alleged influence at all, even if prefaced with "some commentators argue that..." or whatever. Heffer's biography is a serious work (it is not a "Sunday Telegraph" rant) although obviously very favourable to its subject.Paulturtle (talk) 13:48, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

In reply to the various posts made by Britannicus may I first of all clarify that my reference to the content of his or her user page was a broad observation about its general tone: I, too, am of English ancestry, I regularly wear the three lions on my clothes and sometimes sport a red, white and blue One Day England International cricket cap. However, the impression given by a proliferation of these flags and symbols, combined with comments like "We want no foreign examples to rekindle in us the flame of liberty" does, I would contend, over-egg the pudding. It also overlooks the fine contribution to our war effort made by hundreds of thousands of soldiers from countries which are today part of the Commonwealth: they did, indeed, fight (and often died) to defend our "flame of liberty". Of course, it's entirely up to Britannicus what s/he chooses to put on his or her user page - good luck to you - though the fact that I seem to recall Schrandit once awarding Britannicus some sort of medal of honour, with the words "from one nationalist to another" - specifically as a reward for the latter's efforts in expanding articles relating to Enoch Powell - must surely serve to show that Britannicus does not approach this issue as an impartial observer. (For some reason, it does not seem possible to locate this commendation any more). Britannicus asks whether I should be taken seriously - I merely offer an opinion (as s/he does) but as someone who has worked in market research for nineteen years (five of them in Bob Worcester's officer at MORI) it seems to me that there are inherent problems with the sort of poll that attempts to measure Powell's influence with prompted questions. If you ask an elector what factors influenced his or her vote in the 1970 general election, the proportion who would spontaneously cite Enoch Powell as their reason for voting for Edward Heath (the man who sacked him, by the way) would be much smaller that the proportion who would pick Enoch Powell from a series of prompted answers (or rather, from a "show card", as it is called in the market research industry). Put another way, most voters will choose a party on the basis of conventional issues like prices or unemployment (influenced, as always, by their own socio-economic interests and immediate environment) especially when, as in the case of 1970, both party leaders had demonstratively rejected race as an issue. But ask an elector who had switched to the Tories because of memories of the 1968 economic crisis "Did Enoch Powell influence your vote as well?" and many of those who did not even consider Powell when making their choice will nonetheless reply in the affirmative. Further more, contrary to the research cited by Britannicus, the perception that the Conservatives were more anti-immigration than Labour was already apparent in 1964. Otherwise, how do we explain Smethwick? It is important, therefore, to carefully evaluate the reliability of research before jumping to conclusions - even when apparently experienced academics may have been involved in collating (or commenting upon) the findings. Quite a few seasoned commentators were writing John Major's political obituary in the run-up to the 1992 General Election. That was another "surprising" Tory victory - but how did it happen? Clearly not because of Enoch Powell, for he was not even in parliament by then. This should surely make us re-examine the basis of some people's assumptions about the reason for the apparent late swing forty years ago. To conclude, my main contention about the 1970 General Election article is that it should concern itself primarily with the nuts and bolts of the campaign chronology plus hard statistical results. The previous lengthy references to selective poll findings that seek to emphasise Powell's alleged influence on the outcome are hardly appropriate for this kind of standard article - and are wholly out of keeping with Wikipedia's other articles in its UK general election series. Put yourself in the position of a British student who is researching the subject matter for an essay or thesis: they might well be of Indian origin - and probably cheered England on in the recent world cup. He or she is sitting in their English semi-detached house in an English tree-lined street, logs onto Wikipedia, taps in "1970 general election" and views an article which comprises a statistical summary (all well and good) plus a lengthy tortured and highly subjective POV piece claiming that Powell was a decisive factor in the result. What are they to make of this - and what are they to make of Wikipedia? Please let the article stand as amended. Multiculturalist (talk) 09:25, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

You have already stated your intention in another place to edit Wikipedia so it conforms with your politics, I have said I want articles to be neutral. The fact is that I have provided a wealth of sourced information which demonstrates that many psephologists attribute to Powell a decisive influence over the result of the 1970 general election. You, however, have only attempted to delete this and add original research (the fact that your reason for deleting it is because you have worked for a polling organisation still demonstrates that you do not understand Wikipedia's prohibition of original research). This speaks volumes about which editor is conforming to Wikipedia's rules. The fact that no other article would have this kind of information on it is due to the simple fact that no other editor would dispute facts and so lengthy quotes have to be provided because you deny reality.--Britannicus (talk) 10:34, 25 September 2010 (UTC)
Once again, you are confusing reality with your own subjective opinion. You say you want articles to be "neutral", but you choose to use sources that are anything but. I and most others readily accept that a certain amount of subjectivity, provided it is sourced, may be appropriate for the lengthy article about Enoch Powell: but it is surely not appropriate for a short entry about the 1970 general election. It seems that for sentimental reasons you WANT to believe that Enoch Powell had a decisive influence, and have simply found the references to back up your wishful thinking. Further more, what I said in another place is that “Wikipedia should be a source of impartial commentary on political matters, but if the right insists on making the website partisan, then let us ensure that our historical interpretation prevails and not theirs.” However, upon further research of Wikipedia rules, I now accept that this was inappropriate. Multiculturalist (talk) 14:15, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

Do you have any real reason to believe that the listed sources are compromised? - Schrandit (talk) 17:41, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

Yes, for two reasons: (1) The claims they make are not credible; and (2) Those promoting them have a political agenda. Multiculturalist (talk) 19:32, 26 September 2010 (UTC)
Only in your opinion, though. There are abundant sources from experts in this field that demonstrate the decisive influence of Powell and I will re-add them to the article. Your personal opinion cannot stand in the way of what these academics, who made a thorough and deep inquiry into this, have written.--Britannicus (talk) 20:43, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

Done some digging on my bookshelves this weekend. As with so many of these disputes the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Garnett & Aitken on Whitelaw (2003) p85 attribute a certain amount of influence to Powell - Whitelaw thought he brought in as many votes as he lost, but that to ditch him (Whitelaw dissuaded Heath from refusing to endorse Powell's candidacy) would cost votes in the West Midlands. Amongst serious works which are not Powell fan-works, Ian Gilmour "Whatever Happened to the Tories" (his 1997 history of the Tories since WW2) p244 attributes some influence to Powell, while John Ramsden p311-2 of "Winds of Change" (1996: the 1957-75 volume of the Longman History of the Conservative Party) and Philip Ziegler p223 of his 2010 biography of Heath both attribute some influence to Powell, although not quite as much as he and his supporters claimed. John Campbell's 1993 Heath biography would be worth consulting, but I don't have a copy to hand. Many factors go into influencing election results, and it is reasonable to be open-minded about the veracity of "academic studies".Paulturtle (talk) 23:58, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

None of those are psephologists. I'd be interested to know whether they have made equivalent studies on the election comparable to those made by Johnson, Schoen, and Studlar?--Britannicus (talk) 10:13, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

I very much doubt it, nor is there any need for them to have done so. They are - all of them - intelligent and respected writers who have written about and lived through many campaigns and elections, are perfectly well aware that many factors go into election victories, and are capable of looking at evidence and weighing it up - several of them refer to the Shepherd biog in their footnotes. There is no doubt that Powell was one of the most important and influential of UK policians in 1970, given almost as much coverage as the main party leaders, and it is reasonable to suppose that his speeches had an influence. That does not mean that an "academic study" should be taken as gospel truth if it makes clearly exaggerated claims (eg. that the Conservative vote went up by millions more than it actually did) or if there are methodological issues over the questions asked. If a researcher went round asking people whether Roy Jenkins' tough budgets influenced their vote, or Roy Jenkins' liberal policies on divorce and homosexuality, or memories of devaluation in late 1967, or Barbara Castle's war on motorists, or Callaghan blocking Castle from getting "In Place of Strife" through, or George Brown constantly getting "tired and emotional", or the feud with Ian Smith's regime in Rhodesia, or England losing the World Cup, or the bad trade figures during the election campaign, lots of people would say "yes" and the totals would probably add up to more than the total swing - all these things mattered but it is very hard to disentangle how much weight should be attributed to each of them. Psephologists and writers of "academic studies" (which may just mean some 24-year old trying to get publicity for his dissertation) are just as capable of being daft as any other member of the human race. Paulturtle (talk) 14:19, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

I don't believe the authors you have cited should be treated the same as the psephologists and their views given equal weight to theirs either because if we adding information about a politician's influence in an election, then it is obvious that those experts who have carried out the study should be given priority. What you say about the researcher may be fair but it is irrelevant because it is your own opinion. You may personally disagree with what the academic studies into the 1970 election found but they are still the sources that should be given more weight than to those of the authors you cited because these are experts in their field. The choice is between psephologists' studies published in peer-reviewed academic journals... or a few passing remarks by non-psephologists? There really is no contest. I agree that these authors views should be added but I cannot take seriously the suggestion that their opinion should be given equal weight in the article to those who have made exhaustive studies into this election.--Britannicus (talk) 14:46, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

My opinion as to which sources should be quoted is as good as yours, no better and no worse. I doubt you have any idea whether the studies actually were "exhaustive", or whether they were peer-reviewed in academic journals. For all you know they may have been rubbished in academic journals, or simply sniggered at. It was forty years ago. Polling is not an obscure branch of nuclear physics, unintelligible to those who lack advanced degrees. This the politics of a mature western democracy, endlessly raked over by commentators, many of them far from stupid, many of them with a reasonable grasp of statistics and often a good deal smarter than a lot of the psephologists (who, for example, had to seriously rethink some of their polling methodology after failing to call the 1992 Election). The consensus among serious writers in the last decade or two (and the Ramsden book mentioned above is a pretty serious quasi-academic tome btw) seems to be that Powell had a major influence but it was not as overwhelming as he and his fans claimed. That is prima facie evidence that our 40-year old "exhaustive academic study" did not fully persuade those who read it, even if the critiques have been forgotten in the intervening forty years.Paulturtle (talk) 15:58, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

I called the study exhaustive because that it was the secondary source called it and peer-reviewed journals are respectable sources. If their arguments had been rubbished then I'm sure Shepherd (who is by no means pro-Powell as anyone who has read his biography will see) would have pointed it out. Your argument against psephologists seems to be that their opinion is no better or worse than anyone else's and that their views should not be given prominence on this issue. You are not comparing like with like: Ramsden, Gilmour, et al have not studied the election in depth and they are not psephologists. If one wants to quote the most authoritative source on any issue you would see what the experts in the field have said about it. What the experts in this field (psephology) have said about it is clear. There really is no getting away from it. Yes, I think those authors you cited should be quoted but let's not deceive ourselves that their opinion carries equal weight compared to those who have make studying elections their academic profession.--Britannicus (talk) 16:46, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
I am pleased that Britannicus values the opinions of psephologists, because for a number of years I co-edited MORI's monthly "British Public Opinion" newsletter with Sir Robert Worcester. (Britannicus is perfectly at liberty to verify that this was so between 1985-90). It was sent to academics, MPs, political parties, pressure groups, captains of industry and others. Paulturtle - I'm glad you are taking an interest in this edit ward and agree with most of your comments. Anyone who has been involved in electoral politics will tell you that just about every single issue pressure group claims to have a huge 'block vote' which can be wielded in favour or against a particular party or politician at any given time, and the Powellites are clearly no exception: in reality, though, psephology is not so simplistic. Despite this, Britannicus has now seen fit to reinstate the lengthy paragraph which ends with the claim that Powell may have added five million votes to the Conservative general election total in 1970. The implication of this statement is that had Powell not existed, the Tories would have won only eight million votes and that Labour might have won as many as 17 million (given the fact that forty years ago the vast majority of people switched directly between the two main parties). This equates to a swing of between 15% and 20%. You do not need to write a thesis to prove that this is total bunkum. I hope you agree with me that at the very least, the last sentence should be removed. You will see from the comment made by Warofdreams on 23 June 2010 that there is research which contradicts the notion that Powell made a significant difference to the result. My belief is that a sentence should be added which cites some of this research. If you or anyone else has a suitable source for this, I would be grateful if you could leave it on my talk page. Finally, I would contend that a caption should be added bearing the words "The neutrality of this article is disputed." Multiculturalist (talk) 17:32, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
I'm afraid that you would "need to write a thesis to prove that this is total bunkum" because that is how Wikipedia works: text added to articles are based on sources not on personal opinions. So far you have not added any sourced content to this article but only your opinions.--Britannicus (talk) 17:46, 27 September 2010 (UTC)

Not necessarily, because “simple calculations” are not original research, and in this case a “simple calculation” casts obvious doubt over whether the source cited is accurate and reliable. If you insist on leaving the five million votes claim it would need to be flagged clearly as a minority point of view (and that the claim that it is “exhaustive” is a bit of peacocking from Simon Heffer). Secondary sources are to be preferred to primary, even if only to avoid accusations of original research in the interpretation of the latter. One could argue about where an “exhaustive academic study” fits into the spectrum but clearly scholarly works of synthesis by Richard Shepherd or John Ramsden are to be preferred to the original psephological study.

The late John Ramsden was Professor of History at Queen Mary & Westfield. He was a recognised authority on British political history, and on the history of the Conservative Party in particular, and the author of the three twentieth century volumes of the Longman History of the Conservative Party. Now, personally I wouldn’t claim that being employed by a university makes somebody infallible or even connected to reality (in certain branches of the economics profession the opposite is probably true) but by your own criterion he was clearly an “academic professional” and an “expert in the field” who has “studied the election in depth” and indeed studied a great many other elections in depth. His view – that Powell was a major player in the 1970 election and a major contributor to the Conservative victory but that nonetheless a lot of other factors went into the swing – therefore carries great weight (and is broadly the same as Ian Gilmour, Philip Ziegler and Richard Shepherd).

There is a lot more to elections than opinion polls. An opinion poll is not an objective measurement of why people vote in an election (or, in this case, claim with hindsight to have voted). The contents of people’s minds are not easily measurable, and voters may not even be conscious of what has caused them to form their opinion over a period of time. Even assuming the poll is validly conducted and is not, unlike much bad market research, marred by errors so glaring as to be obvious even to the numerate layman (silly questions, biased samples, failure to understand confidence intervals and conditional probabilities etc) it is still only a measure of the answers people give to the pollster, eg. six out of ten voters who expressed a preference said Enoch Powell influenced their vote more than other politicians. It is not “real” in the sense that hard voting numbers are “real”.

The paragraph as currently added appears to be taken from p568 of the Simon Heffer biog, which in turn is lifted from R.W.Johnson’s 1997 article “Stick to the Latin” – ostensibly a review of the 1996 Shepherd biog, but which in fact contains a lengthy recollection of how much work he and Schoen claim to have done on the numbers twenty-three years earlier, and the claim that Powell added at least 2.5m votes, if not 4m or 5m, to the Conservative tally. I don’t currently have access to the original Douglas & Schoen research, so I can’t comment on whether or why that was in the original study or was just a dodgy recollection by R.W.Johnson in 1997. There is no evidence that Heffer looked into this very deeply so let us err on the side of charity by assuming this was just a slip in the course of researching a very long book, rather than picking the most favourable source he could find. (Heffer is not intellectually dishonest so it seems unlikely he looked at the total voting figures for the election – had he done so he would surely have said “no that can’t be right, that’s not a sensible number” at the 5m figure.)

Shepherd (1996) covers the polling evidence in some detail over about four pages. In brief he mentions that many pollsters discounted Powell’s influence as Powellite candidates did no better than other Conservative candidates. However, he argues that this is not the whole story as Powell, a major national figure in 1970 (huge mailbag, thousands of followers and as much media coverage as the party leaders) may have boosted the Conservative vote as a whole through his stance on immigration. He quotes the Studlar study to this effect, and also some of Johnson & Schoen‘s findings as to how people listed Powell as an influence, or how many switchers were Powellites. He concludes by quoting two studies which put Powell’s effect as a national swing of 1-1.5%, which given the narrow margin of Heath’s victory may have made the difference between victory and defeat, but subject to the caveat that it is “debatable” whether things can actually be quantified as precisely as this. It is very noticeable that Shepherd does not include Johnson & Schoen’s more far-fetched claims, ie. that Powell personally swung the entire election or delivered millions of votes.

The treatment in Shepherd is surely to be preferred to that in Heffer, as it is more balanced and considers a wider variety of research results, whereas Heffer simply quotes the most far-fetched conclusions from a single researcher’s recollections of his own old research. Paulturtle (talk) 14:48, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, Paulturtle, for your well-reasoned contribution. Clearly, the notion that Powell added five million votes to the Tory total is plain silly and is being promoted as part of a right wing political agenda. Moreover, the reinstatement of this claim to the body of the text is disrespectful to other Wikipedia contributors, for it ignores the consensus that has materialised on this discussion page. Sadly, it will remain (and the contribution you have made will be confined only to this discussion page) unless someone adds a sentence citing research that contradicts, or that at the very least puts into perspective, the claims made in the R W Johnson study. (Incidentally, the only trace of an R W Johnson on Wikipedia relates to a South African who has been critical of the ANC. Presumably this is a different person, and if so, why does the R W Johnson whose psephological study is cited by Britannicus not merit his own Wikipedia entry? Surely the fact that he does not speaks volumes). Paulturtle, do you have any specific quotes and references I can use so as to add balance and clarity (e.g. Shepherd's reference to Powellite candidates doing no better than non-Powellites)? Today, I went into a neighbouring London borough to try and find the Randell Hansen book quoted by Warofdreams, but all of their libraries drew a blank. Multiculturalist (talk) 08:52, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

So as to inject some balance into the fifth paragraph, I have retained the original reference but added a new source. I have tried to do this without significantly increasing its size, as it is already longer than any other paragraph in the article and it would be wrong to devote too much space to Powell’s alleged influence. The paragraph is now divided into two roughly equal halves, one devoted to the more credible of the claims in the Schoen/Johnson study and the other devoted to Hansen’s analysis. In the meantime, I’ll continue searching for a more suitable quotation than that currently ascribed to Hansen – whose remark seems to partially endorse the assertions made by Schoen & Johnson.Multiculturalist (talk) 21:31, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

BBC 1970 General Election results coverage[edit]

I taped all fourteen hours of this when it was re-shown on the Parliament Channel last month and have finally completed a set of notes pertaining to the reasons given by politicians, political commentators, psephologists and members of the public about the reasons for the Tory victory: have now added a paragraph to the article citing the most commonly mentioned factors. If anyone wishes to dispute these, I can provide the names of the people who advanced these theories and the times at which they were interviewed on the programme. Regarding Powell, will in due course add something about his alleged influence - but it seems that most of those interviewees who were asked were rather dismissive of the notion that there had been any special 'Powell factor'. 89.195.205.181 (talk) 18:18, 7 November 2010 (UTC) Sorry - that should have been me. (Thought I was already logged in). Multiculturalist (talk) 18:21, 7 November 2010 (UTC)

I am at fault here for not having got round to writing up an entry based on the detailed examination of the evidence in the Shepherd biog. I think one should be wary of using talking head coverage in 1970 as a serious analysis of Powell's influence on the result. Television reporters and mainstream politicians (and Dykes, Raison and to some extent Maudling were all on the left of the Tory Party) had their reasons for belittling Powell's influence. I dare say that on election night in 1997 or 2001 Ken Clarke, Michael Heseltine and the elderly Sir Edward Heath all said that the Tories did badly by being "anti-European", while conversely I remember a Telegraph editorial saying that the Tory pledge to stay out of the Euro for at least ten years was too equivocal and that they would have swept the country if they had said firmly that they would always Keep the Pound. In itself it doesn't really tell us a great deal apart from the opinions of the commentators.Paulturtle (talk) 10:45, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

You dismiss "talking head coverage", but in fact Jeffrey Preece certainly knew what he was talking about because he was the BBC's Midlands correspondent at the time, and that was the area where Powell was supposed to have had his greatest influence. Preece cited the strong Labour performance in Smethwick and in Birmingham All Saints (the latter one of only three seats to register a swing towards Labour) and he said "This refutes, to my mind, the suggestion that the Powell influence helped the Tories in the black country". Harold Wilson, when interviewed by David Dimbleby, also dismissed a special "Powell factor", even implying that Powell may have brought out church goers to vote Labour, and citing the success of a strongly "anti-racialist" Labour candidate in Smethwick. Another seat, which declared later and which showed a good Labour performance, was The Wrekin - and it was remarked in the studio that as this was on the periphery of so-called "Powell country" it, too, undermined suggestions of a "Powell effect". It was also pointed out that the pro-Tory swing in Powell's own constituency was less than in the neighbouring Wolverhampton seat. Sir Robin Day actually mentioned that Conservative candidates had told him they were worried they would lose immigrant support because they were afraid a Tory government would be Powell dominated. Regarding Hugh Dykes, he was actually on the right of the Tory Party at that time: when it was declared that he had gained Harrow East for the Conservatives, the commentator mentioned that he had given an anti-immigration speech at the previous autumn's Tory conference (and even suggested that he might be an ally of Powell in the new parliament). Not until much later in his career did Dykes move to the left of the party (largely, I suspect, because the party itself moved to the right under Thatcher). At 4pm, during the next day's TV coverage, when Dykes was interviewed by Sir Robin Day, he was asked about the influence of Powell and stated "I don't think he had a bearing on the main result which was mainly economic." Finally, I don't see how you can say Reginald Maudling was "to some extent" on the left of the Tory Party when he himself gave a controversial anti-immigrant speech in the mid-1960s. Pressed by Sir Robin Day as to whether he thought Powell was an asset or a liability, Maudling stated "I should think probably broke even." But guess what: during the same interview, Maudling made what was undoubtedly the most profound remark of all about the issue of Powell's alleged influence. He said "Historians and psephologists will write about this for generations." How right he was. Multiculturalist (talk) 16:35, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

The idea that Harold Wilson and Reginald Maudling's opinions can be compared to psephologist's academic studies is somewhat ridiculous. I doubt that on election night they sat down and studied the results and came to the conclusions they did, rather than guessing off the top of their head when asked by an interviewer.--Britannicus (talk) 19:03, 17 November 2010 (UTC)
Both Wilson and Maudling would have had considerable feedback from the campaign on the ground - and would, therefore, have been in at least some position to evaluate whether Powell had an influence and what that influence was. Furthermore, your comment overlooks the fact that psephologists are not united in their view about Powell's alleged influence: the academic study you choose to believe in is at the very extreme end of the scale in terms of the effect it attributes to Powell. Incidentally, when Enoch Powell himself was interviewed by Sir Robin Day on election night, he complained bitterly that Heath had attacked him during the campaign (by calling him "unChristian" and "inhuman" and by accusing him of being "a divisive force in the community"). You have still not explained how Powell's supporters would have been attracted to vote for Heath when the latter had done so much to distance himself from the former. Logic is simply not on your side. Multiculturalist (talk) 21:13, 17 November 2010 (UTC)
Again, you still do not understand Wikipedia. You cannot edit an article based on your "logic" derived from your original research because articles have to be referenced from reputable sources. Powell repeatedly and emphatically advised the electorate to vote Conservative in well-publicised speeches, and in dealing with Powell's influence in the election, that part of the article should be sourced from academic studies, not the parroting of official party lines by politicians.--Britannicus (talk) 21:56, 17 November 2010 (UTC)
I have not used my "logic" to edit this article. I have provided a sourced reference to comments made by, amongst others, the BBC's Midlands correspondent - who emphatically refutes the notion that Powell helped the Tories in the black country. This is someone who closely followed the campaign in that area and who had time to analyse the election results in some detail on the night. How on earth can you claim to have a greater understanding of this issue than him? Further more, what I have not mentioned is that during the 14-hour long BBC results coverage a number of analysts, politicians and members of the public (including Tory activists in the Midlands) described Powell as "an embarrassment" to the party. People who are embarrassing do not generally attract votes. As one Tory put it "It's a good thing to have a united looking party." Multiculturalist (talk) 01:19, 18 November 2010 (UTC)
How on earth can you claim to have greater understanding of this election than psephologists, who spend their days studying elections? The fact is that Powell was popular and that he attracted votes to the Conservatives which helped them win the election. The only question is how many votes he helped attract. Anyone who claims he made the Tories more unpopular does not deserve to be taken seriously.--Britannicus (talk) 00:37, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Once again, in considering the election night coverage, I think one has to be wary of the degree to which TV journalists and "mainstream" Conservative politicians would have sought to minimise Powell's airtime and suggest that his views were mad, extreme, held only by stupid bigots, etc etc in much the same way that in recent years they did to those who (quite correctly, as current events are demonstrating) warned that a single European currency wasn't a very sensible idea. In fact Powell's public support was enormous and he was consistently voted one of the most popular politicians in the country. (Please note that I am not condoning Powell's use of racially inflammatory language, merely noting that he was tapping into widely-held public concerns.) The argument is not that Powellite candidates did particularly well in 1970 - it is common ground in the sources that they did not. The argument is that the support which he attracted helped boost the Conservative vote across the board, at least in part because other Conservative politicians had seen the need to toughen their rhetoric on immigration, and possibly enough to provide the margin of victory given how narrow Heath's percentage lead was. Some of this support would have come from voters who knew Powell was a Tory but didn't understand the minutiae of how he was never going to be invited to join Heath's Cabinet or be elected leader by Tory MPs. I haven't come across any serious claim that Powell was a net vote-loser for the Conservatives in 1970, whatever some brownnosing activists may have been told to say at the time when asked ("That Mr Powell, he's so disloyal, why can't he be more of a team player" etc). If there was any such evidence I have little doubt that Reggie Maudling would have mentioned it on election night (instead of grudgingly conceding that Powell "broke even") and Heath would have mentioned it in his memoirs (he is silent on the subject, although quick to criticise Powell for not resigning by the correct procedure in Feb-74).Paulturtle (talk) 10:17, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Britannicus: it is strange that you once again raise the issue of what psephologists say when during the whole of the time that you have concerned yourself with this article you never once thought to revert the psephologically illiterate passage that claimed that the polls had "predicted" a Labour victory. A few weeks ago I changed the word "predicted" to "indicated" because polls are merely a snapshot of public opinion at a given point in time - they do not "predict" anything. This is a basic psephological rule and it is surprising that you did not seem to be aware of it. Paulturtle: surely readers can judge for themselves how much weight to attribute to the comments of the BBC's election night commentators. I fail to see how you can assume that Heath's Conservative Party was a net beneficiary of the influence of Enoch Powell. Would this factor have helped the Tories with the immigrant vote which was so pivotal in many of the west Midlands marginals where Powell's influence was supposed to be at its greatest? Robin Day's conversation with the new Labour member for Derby North during the election night programme seemed to suggest the answer was no. But how various people would have reacted to the issue of Powell is incredibly difficult to analyse: had I been old enough to vote in 1970, I would have voted Tory as an endorsement of Heath's firm anti-Powell line (and because I would have feared that a third Labour victory would have resulted in Heath being deposed as Conservative leader in favour of Powell). In a mock school election in February 1974, I did vote Tory for much the same reason. Of course you are correct in saying that Powell tapped into widely-held public concerns but whether, in these circumstances, his influence made a significant net different to the result is questionable. Back in the day, when support for capital punishment was at around 80%, very few changed their vote over the issue (otherwise why did the Tories never poll above the forties despite being seen as the pro-hanging party?). I simply question the extent to which apparently emotive issues actually change votes when people are in the sobriety of the polling booth. Multiculturalist (talk) 13:47, 25 November 2010 (UTC)

A clearly mathematically absurd claim that Powell added 5m votes or whatever it was should not stand without at least some warning flag to the incautious reader. On the other hand, if you were writing an article about the effect of euroscepticism on the Conservative vote in 1997 or 2001, you wouldn’t treat the BBC election night coverage as the main source, would you? If you trawled hard enough you could find some interview with Hezza or Ken Clarke claiming that joining the euro would bring stability and prosperity, staying out would cause boom & bust and riots on the streets of Athens, Madrid and Dublin, and anyone who didn’t realise this was clearly a xenophobic bigot … I exaggerate, but only slightly, for comic effect because the exact opposite has of course ensued.

Lots of studies believe that Powell had at least some net positive influence on the Conservative vote. I haven’t come across any such writer who believes that Powell was a net vote-loser and if there was any such evidence his enemies (eg. Heath) would have trumpeted it with glee. Of course many immigrants would have voted Labour but middle-aged and older white people are far more likely to register and to vote than new immigrants, and there were a lot more of them.

The Tory Big Beasts had already arranged to meet at the Hirsel (Home’s country seat) to arrange Heath’s deposition after his assumed election defeat, with a view to keeping Powell out. Had Powell still been a Conservative (he continued to describe himself as a “Tory” for the rest of his days) in 1975 things might have been different (who knows, faced with a leadership challenger he took seriously, Heath might even have stepped down and handed the leadership to Whitelaw….now there’s an interesting counterfactual …), but he wasn’t, so they weren’t.

No major politician has campaigned for hanging in the way that Powell campaigned for voluntary repatriation. It’s an interesting speculation, but ultimately irrelevant as it never happened - the matter was treated as one of conscience for MPs most of the time.MissingMia (talk) 16:59, 19 April 2012 (UTC)


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Reference number 3[edit]

"BBC Election Results Programme, 18–19 July 1970."

Really? The BBC broadcast a (long, evidently) results programme about the election a month after it happened? Shouldn't that read "..June 1970"? Harfarhs (talk) 20:51, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

Labour candidates[edit]

Does the 625 Labour candidates standing including the Northern Ireland Labour Party? And does the total votes include the NILP votes? --185.18.49.19 (talk) 11:12, 31 August 2017 (UTC)

Yes, it does (probably worth a note, actually). The NILP candidates were endorsed by the British Labour Party, as they were at most general elections, and so are counted together here. Warofdreams talk 13:54, 31 August 2017 (UTC)