Parties, mandates and multilevel politics: Subnational variation in British general election manifestos

Alistair Clark (Corresponding Author), Lynn Bennie

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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The three main state-wide British parties – Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats – all produce different versions of their manifestos in British general elections. Many policies debated in a British general election no longer apply at the sub-national level, where separate devolved institutions control large areas of policy. This article therefore assesses the roles of national party manifestos at the sub-national level in British general elections. It develops an original theory linking Strom’s alternative party goals to Ray’s typology of mandate/contract manifestos, advertisement manifestos and identity manifestos. It then explores a comparative overview of British parties’ general election manifestos at the sub-national level, before focusing in detail on Labour’s 2010 and 2015 general election manifestos, which reflect the party’s strategic difficulties caused by devolution. The expected variation is found between the national and sub-national manifestos. In some instances, multiple goals are pursued simultaneously and this is reflected in manifestos which assume elements of more than one manifesto ideal type. This supports the additional conclusion that manifestos can perform multiple functions in complex multi-level systems of government.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-264
Number of pages12
JournalParty Politics
Issue number3
Early online date16 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • Manifestos
  • Britain
  • devolution
  • Scotland
  • Wales


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