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Major Government falls over Scott Report (Feb 1996)


left labour poster on here
Bit of a random thing I stumbled across today was that following the Scott Report into the Arms-for-Iraq scandal, the Major government survived a motion of no confidence by just 1 vote.

What effects, if any, would there have been had their been an election in March/April 1996. Polling around this time was approaching Peak Blair levels (frequently over 50%) so an even bigger landslide could be possible, but could there have been any greater ramifications?


Well-known member
The most immediate consequence might be for the Tory leadership. Labour winning an extra 40-50 seats would probably mean that Ken Clarke loses his seat. It's difficult to see who picks up the 'wet' vote in the leadership contest. Dorrell perhaps, or maybe Heseltine is pressured into standing by that wing of the party. I'm not really sure I can see either of them winning, but if Clarke doesn't make it back into parliament, then I can see a more ideologically flexible moderate defeating IDS or Portillo next time out, and that might mean the Tories recover faster.

An even bigger Labour majority is not really going to make that much of a difference to what they do, as they already had more than enough MPs to push their programme through in full. However, the bigger cushion they built up from such a massive victory could ultimately mean they are able to cling on for a fourth term further down the line.


Opinions from the Student Union
The polls going into 1997 also had Labour on around 50%. http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/historical-polls/voting-intention-1992-1997

The polls in this period, even after 1992, still had a tendency to over-estimate Labour support, and they would continue to suffer from this sporadically until 2015. ICM for the Graun is generally the most reliable in this period, and they fairly consistently had Labour on much lower figures. (Though even they have a 50% outlier around this time) I think it's possible for Labour to do better, but not by much - maybe 2%, though if that's uniformly spread over the OTL vote, and assuming it comes mostly from the Conservative vote, (An assumption that may not be true in some places) it could still pocket Labour about another twenty seats.

My feeling is that 1996 probably was a worse time politically for the government than 1997, and you also hadn't had another year of economic upturn. But I wouldn't expect huge differences over the OTL result.

I guess it's possible that with less than a year as a cabinet minister, (And a worse defeat) Wee Willy decides to stick with backing Michael Howard ITTL. That should improve Fat Ken's chances of winning the leadership - though even Howard would probably be an improvement over Hague.


rip geronimo rip babycakes i want to run to you
Major's reputation would've been even more dented. I also wonder how the Labour government would tackle the issue of iraq, given that the media narrative would be that Iraq was a major reason for Labour winning by such a landslide.

Depending on how bad the night is for the Tories, the Lib Dems might start to claim to be the 'real opposition', but actually mean it, and push the 2000/2001 election as their chance to actually overtake them as the second-largest party, though I think this is unrealistic and the ground they had lost would've been recovered. But the media might make some #dramz over it.


a sinking dumpling. He/Him.
I suppose that if Major's govt directly fell over Scott/Iraq, the incoming (presumably) Blair govt may have considered 'sexing up the dossier' prior to the next round in Iraq to be an atrocious gamble which could come back & bite 'em in the arse an awful lot quicker than it actually did.

The very fact that Major did pull through it, despite flailing around like Jack Douglas from Lamont's first post-election budget onward, was bound to encourage the Mandelsonian sharp operators that it'd be a breeze for them in comparison.