Labour’s Neighbours: reconceptualising the Ramsay Street boom and British politics from Thatcher to Blair
journal contributionposted on 2023-08-30, 19:21 authored by Richard Carr
This article considers two overlapping phenomena: the huge popularity of the Australian soap opera Neighbours in Britain during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the failure of the Labour Party to mount a successful electoral challenge until the leadership of Tony Blair. It argues that Neighbours’ appeal—community focussed, friendly, classless, unthreatening, a mixed economy, and in some ways small ‘c’ conservative—was precisely the platform that Labour needed to convince voters (particularly women and those living in suburbs) that it failed to reach between 1983 and 1992. Neighbours offered an albeit imagined and fictionalised window into Bob Hawke’s Australia that many of the British electorate found attractive, but until the Labour party tapped into such support, significant numbers of ‘floating voters’ would continue to back the Social Democratic Party and, subsequently, John Major’s Conservatives. There were generational dynamics at play here—with the 8 in 10 12–15 year olds who watched the show in 1990 unable to vote at earlier elections, but joining the franchise in time for the first Blair landslide of 1997. Neighbours was of course not the only influence on such voters, but it was a meaningful one.
Publication titleContemporary British History
PublisherTaylor & Francis
- Accepted version