A triumph of numbers, not policy

A brief point to help John Redwood in planning the Conservative recovery ("Don't forget about me", 14 February). The Conservatives did not win in 1951 because they "promised more freedom and more prosperity through having trust in free enterprise". In that general election, Labour got more votes than any party in British history to date, seemingly because people wanted more of what Attlee was delivering with redistribution through taxation and nationalisation. Conservatives won because of first-past-the-post operating in constituencies whose boundaries kiltered the national choice. This has sometimes worked in Labour's favour, but let's not pretend that deep political meanings can be drawn from the imperfections of electoral mathematics.

Ian Flintoff
London SW6

This article first appeared in the 21 February 2000 issue of the New Statesman, Just wait for the gold rush to end