25 March 17 - 04 June 17
The 1997 general election.
Please note this exhibition will be closed on Mon 27 March PM, re-opening Wed 29 March AM and closed Fri 31 March AM, re-opening Sat 1 April AM. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.
The 1997 general election.
Time 10:00 - 17:00
Duration 7 hours
Cost In order to keep our exhibitions programme affordable to everyone, please make a donation. Suggested donation £3
The 1997 general election was a unique moment in Britain’s modern democratic history. It saw a rebranded ‘New’ Labour Party end 18 years of Conservative government. With a 179 seat majority in the House of Commons, the election laid the foundations for an unprecedented 13 years in office for the party.
Yet in 1992 experts said Britain had become a one-party state: after losing four elections in a row Labour was finished as a party of power. Within five years however, Tony Blair proved them wrong and led the party to office on the back of one of its biggest ever victories.
Such was the optimism of the time, when Blair asked on the morning of 2 May 1997 when the scale of Labour’s victory was fully apparent, ‘A new dawn has broken, has it not?’, many believed a New Britain was really about to be built.
Blair claimed this would be a Britain based on fairness but also economic efficiency, one fully consistent with Labour’s ideals. Critics however argued that the price of this reversal of electoral fortunes was Blair’s abandonment of the party’s basic tenets, such as Clause Four of its constitution. He had, they claimed, transformed Labour into a pale echo of the Conservatives. That was certainly the view of Jeremy Corbyn, then a backbench MP.
The exhibition will explore this vital but controversial moment in Britain’s democratic history, helping visitors reflect on the issues it raises and explore an election that feels much further away than just two decades in the past.
Suitable for all ages
- Follow @newdawn1997 on Twitter – a project in conjunction with the exhibition by The School of Politics & International Relations at the University of Nottingham
Check out our New Dawn? programme of events marking 20 years since the 1997 general election:
- Friday 7 April, 6.00pm – 8.00pm: New Dawn? In Conversation with Polly Toynbee and David Walker
- Thursday 20 April, 12.15pm – 2.00pm: New Dawn? In Conversation with Peter Mandelson
- Friday 28 April, 6.00pm – 7.30pm: New Dawn? In Conversation with Jacqui Smith
- Friday 19 May, 1.00pm – 3.00pm: Have Your Say! discussion event, linking to the 20 year anniversary of ‘New Labour’ winning the 1997 general election
- Saturday 3 June, 11.00am – 4.00pm: Conference: New Dawn? The 1997 general election