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Focus group follies? Qualitative research and British Labour Party strategy

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journal contribution
posted on 2008-01-22, 16:26 authored by Dominic WringDominic Wring
Media coverage of the contemporary British Labour party routinely suggests party leaders, notably Tony Blair, have been overly reliant on using focus group as a means of obtaining voter feedback. The paper explores this popular understanding by considering how and when qualitative forms of opinion research began to play a significant role in developing campaign strategy. Following their incorporation into party planning during the mid-1980s, focus groups provided an increasingly influential (and at the time more discreet) source of data and support for the leadership's Policy Review later that decade. Following the 1992 election defeat selective findings from the party's qualitative research programme became integral to the public relations' initiatives of Labour's self-styled 'modernisers', particularly in their largely successful attempt to delegitimise and then marginalise the role of the party's once formidable affiliated union supporters in internal affairs. Crucially this contributed to a climate that enabled the key moderniser Tony Blair to emerge and win the leadership.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


WRING, D., 2006. Focus group follies? Qualitative research and British Labour Party strategy. Journal of Political Marketing, 5 (4), pp.71-97.


© Haworth Press

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This article was published in the journal, Journal of political marketing [© Haworth Press]. The definitive version is available at: https://www.haworthpress.com/




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