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Labour party adaptation to multilevel politics: evidence from British general election manifestos

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Some policy areas debated in British general elections are the responsibility of devolved institutions, not the UK parliament. Devolution means that state-wide parties produce different versions of their general election manifestos in the devolved territories. Deploying a multilevel party framework, this article examines intra-party variations in Labour’s manifesto content through an original study of British, Scottish and Welsh Labour party manifestos from 2001 to 2017. The analysis focuses on the content and structure of Labour’s general election manifestos across the UK. It examines the roles performed by these documents, revealing how the Labour party has responded to the challenges of devolution. The analysis highlights the variable speeds at which sub-state parties embrace autonomy. It finds that Welsh Labour is more inclined to diverge from the content of UK Labour manifestos than the Scottish party, suggesting Scottish Labour has been slow to understand the politics of national identity and reluctant to embrace opportunities created by devolution. The article has implications for three key literatures: approaches to manifesto analysis; the roles performed by party manifestos; and party adaptation in multilevel systems.




Bennie, L., & Clark, A. (2020). Labour party adaptation to multilevel politics: evidence from British general election manifestos. British Politics, 15(4), 411–432.

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