BBC Homepage News World Service Sport Education My BBC BBC News Vote 2001
BBC News Vote 2001 Vote2001 | Audio Video 
Election Battles 1945-1997
Intro 1945 1950 1951 1955 1959 1964 1966 1970 1974
1979 1983 1987 1992
1997: Blair's landslide

1997: Ashdown manifesto
Ashdown - looking for a Lib Dem breakthrough

Watch and listen 1997
BBC Radio examines the results
real 28k
John Major ends the “phoney war”
quicktime 56k real 56k
Neil Hamilton and Martin Bell lock horns in Tatton
quicktime 56k real 56k
The Lib Dems stage a Punch and Judy show
quicktime 56k real 56k
The best of election night coverage
quicktime 56k real 56k
Tony Blair: "We will govern as New Labour"
quicktime 56k real 56k
Labour's five pledges
Cut class sizes for five, six and seven-year-olds
Fast track punishment for young offenders
Cut waiting lists by 100,000
250,000 young people off benefits and into work
No income tax increase
No to a federal Europe
Aspiration of 20p income tax rate
Privatise London Underground
Pension reform
Higher married couples allowance
Liberal Democrats
£2bn for education
Free eye tests
Free dental checks
Voting reform

New Labour fought this election with its policies already clearly hammered out.

In the summer of 1996 it released a draft manifesto, and a few days later released its pledge card.

The five pledges - used throughout the campaign - with their promise not to raise income tax, to cut class sizes and reduce NHS waiting lists, were designed to defuse still further any Tory attacks on Labour as a tax and spend party.

This strategy was built on in January 1997 when shadow chancellor Gordon Brown accepted Tory spending plans for Labour's first two years in office - should the party be elected.

The manifesto proper, released during the campaign - New Labour Because Britain Deserves Better - fleshed out the five pledges, again underlining that there would be no increase in income tax.

It also made clear in a 10-point contract with the people that education would be the government's top priority. Also included were pledges to "clean-up politics" and give "leadership" in Europe.

The Tory manifesto, released a day ahead of Labour, was entitled - You Can Only Be Sure With the Conservatives - and kept the party's options open on whether to join the single currency, but firmly rejected a federal Europe.

It made pledges to privatise the London Underground as well as imagining a state were the State Earnings Related Pension was phased out - neither commitments were solid vote winners.

Like Labour the Liberal Democrats put education at the top of their agenda.

They promised £2bn would be pumped into the schools system, while they also offered to restore fee eye and dental checks.

To make good his commitments Paddy Ashdown told the voters that the party would need an extra 1p on income tax if elected.

Also standing at this election was the Referendum Party, founded and funded by millionaire businessman Sir James Goldsmith.

The party had the simple aim - opposed as it was to the creation of a European super-state - of ensuring a referendum was held on the future of the UK's relationship with the EU.