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  • Edexcel Component 1, 2.4: UK political parties in context: various factors that affect party success

  • AQA Component Political parties: factors affecting electoral outcomes

Background: what you need to know

This article argues that detailed policies are not necessary for a political party to win popular support. The example given here is Keir Starmer’s decision (on grounds of cost, at a time of pressure on living standards) to drop Labour’s £28 billion green investment plan.

It argues that a victorious Labour Party would have a mandate for change in the eyes of the voters, without a need for more than a handful of specific policy pledges. The author draws a parallel with Tony Blair’s victory in 1997, which you should also know about for the examination.

Click the link below to read the article and then answer the questions:

Mandates are overrated — Keir Starmer just needs the win

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • ‘The most important factor that determines whether political parties win general elections is the policies that they offer to the electorate.’ Analyse and evaluate this statement. [25 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 1

  • Evaluate the view that political parties’ electoral fortunes are mainly determined by the manifesto promises and policies that they offer.

    You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: You should compare the importance of party policies, as compared with other factors, in determining the outcome of recent general elections. For example, do parties win because they run effective election campaigns - or lose because of the reverse? Theresa May was criticised for a lack-lustre campaign in 2017, when she lost her majority. How important is the wider context? You could examine the impact of the financial crisis on the 2010 election to illustrate this point.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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