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This article picked by a teacher with suggested questions is part of the Financial Times free schools access programme. Details/registration here.

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Specification:

  • AQA Component 3.1.2.3: Political parties: factors affecting electoral outcomes

  • Edexcel Component 2.4: Political parties: various factors that affect party success

Background: what you need to know

This article reviews the consequences for the Conservatives of the 2 May local election results. With the sole exception of Tees Valley, where their candidate, Ben Houchen, distanced himself from the Conservative brand, the party performed very badly. There were high-profile defeats, for example, in the London and West Midlands mayoral contests.

The article argues that this is largely attributable to the failed electoral strategy of Rishi Sunak, and predicts that it means a crushing defeat at the coming general election. So — how important is party leadership in determining electoral outcomes?

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

Sunak’s instincts are leading the Tories to ever worse defeat

There is more detail here on the fallout from the local elections:

Crushing Tory losses in London and West Midlands pile pressure on Sunak

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

  • Explain and analyse three factors that influence the fortunes of political parties in UK general elections. [9 marks]

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 1

  • Evaluate the view that party leadership is the most important factor influencing the fortunes of political parties. You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks]

    TIP: Consider other landmark elections where the decision-making and public image of the party leader has been a key factor in the outcome — either a strong performance by the opposition leader or a poor one by the incumbent. The 1997, 2010 and 2019 contests spring to mind. What other factors may play a part?

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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