Election 92 Author Nicholas Jones BBC Books 1992 ISBN 0-563-36124-7
BBC political correspondent Nicholas Jones kept a daily diary while following the 1992 general election campaign. Election 92 is his inside account of what went on behind the scenes between 11 March and 10 April, in a campaign whose outcome shook Britain.
Jones examines the pressures which built up inside the Conservative Party headquarters as the opinion polls suggested a Labour lead or a hung parliament. He shows how - despite his repeated expressions of confidence - John Major was unsettled by criticism of the Tory campaign. And he investigates clandestine moves to stiffen the resolve of the Tory press, revealing how reporters rounded on a cabinet minister declaring Tory campaign strategy a shambles.
The Labour Party paid a heavy price for their glitzy, triumphalist - and much televised - campaign. Nicholas Jones shrewdly analyses the mistakes that cost them dear and explains how Neil Kinnock's faith in the opinion polls led to some tactical errors. He shows, too, how Paddy Ashdown's steadfast refusal to use negative campaign tactics - particularly during the "saga of Jennifer's ear" - won him public admiration but lost him vital news coverage.
As John Major eventually discovered, when it comes to winning elections, there is no substitute for political passion. He became a street fighter, campaigning from a soapbox and discarding the cosy image of "Citizen John Major" so carefully crafted by Tory media planners. But Jones concludes that it was not John Major but the inexorable machine of the Thatcher revolution which lost Neil Kinnock the election. It was a revolution which swept aside Kinnock's personal crusade to revive Labour's fortunes and inevitably claimed him as its final victim.
Reviews: "One of the reasons that Nick's book gives such a detailed insight to the election is that he uses what are normally private conversations with press officers and politicians. Nick claims that he was justified in doing this as those he spoke to did so in the knowledge that they might be used. I say that as one of those working in the Labour Party press office during the election, I spoke to Nick and it was not until later that I dscovered he was writing a book. Once I realised this I was obviously more circumspect with what I said, as others must have been." Charlie Whelan, AEEU press officer, AEEU Journal, Septeber 1992.