Last night, a link from Alex Wilcock reminded me to look up a speech by Jeremy Browne in which he hammered both the Labour party and the Conservatives, largely about the 10p tax rate. I wrote about it for Lib Dem Voice here – giving some edited highlights and a link to the full speech in Hansard.
But one jibe stuck with me and this afternoon I’ve been checking the figures:
If the Conservatives cannot stand the relative heat of being a smaller Opposition than Michael Foot was able to muster, they are obviously not quite the Government in waiting, as they have come to style themselves in recent weeks.
So I checked on Wikipedia. 1979 general election: 269 Labour MPs; 2005 general election: 198 Tory MPs. David Cameron went on to inherit the 2005 cohort, which he still has, give or take the odd defection; Michael Foot inherited the 269 members from the 1979 election, give or take a few by-elections.
Michael Foot went on to write “the longest suicide note in history”, but still won more MPs in 1983 than the Tories have now – 194 according to Wikipedia.
In fact, the Labour party have not had fewer than 200 MPs since 1935 – the Tories have, however, been under 200 before 1997, in 1945.