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BBC News Vote 2001 Vote2001 | Audio Video 
Election Battles 1945-1997
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1987: Three on the trot for Thatcher
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Overview
Battlefield
Campaign
Personalities
Issues
Results
1987: Mandelson
Peter Mandelson ran Labour's well drilled campaign

Watch and listen 1987
The BBC takes stock the day after the election
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Michael Heseltine resigns from the cabinet
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Margaret Thatcher: “I hope to go on and on”
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Norman Tebbit, on the “Thatcher factor”
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Kinnock the Movie
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The Alliance unveils its campaign battlebus
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What they spent
Conservatives
£9m
Labour
£4.2m
Alliance
£1.8m

This is only the third term we are asking for. There is still a long way to go.
Margaret Thatcher

Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to go to university?
Kinnock in Kinnock the Movie

We are the only credible alternative, the Labour Party is unelectable.
David Owen

As she had done four years earlier, Margaret Thatcher waited until good tidings in the shape of a strong showing the May local elections pointed the way to a June election.

With inflation low on 4%, unemployment dipping below three million and the two opposition parties still scrapping for the anti-Tory vote, the Conservatives had every reason to be happy.

Spurred on by the need to do much, much better than the party had in 1983 Labour’s campaign organisation - much to the surprise of the Tories - was turned into a tough and well organised fighting machine.

Peter Mandelson and Bryan Gould hammered out the presentation and the substance of Labour’s message. They helped the party stick to issues that would work to Labour’s strengths - such as health - and did their best to steer clear of trickier areas such as defence.

Kinnock himself was a good campaigner - it was something he enjoyed, and his personality was displayed to good effect in what was to become a seminal election broadcast known as Kinnock the Movie.

Able to outspend the opposition - blowing £3m on a poster campaign in the last few days alone - the Tories could also rely on the tabloid press with The Sun printing such articles as Why I’m Backing Kinnock, by Stalin.

It was perhaps no wonder the Labour leader called it a "pretty mucky campaign".

Where Labour excelled on presentation the Alliance struggled.

It never succeeded in finding a compelling way to sell the joint leadership of David Owen and David Steel - a point their opponents did not fail to highlight.