Evangelical fervour that seeped out in the polls

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One persuasive explanation for Tony Blair's landslide is that so many voters really cared about a Labour victory. One elector in 10 - over 4 million voters - felt so strongly committed that they actively persuaded others to vote Labour. A new MORI analysis of the political scene suggests that Labour attracted more than three times as many of these political foot soldiers as the Tories did.

Applying the MORI excellence model technique, developed for its work with corporate clients, we found that nearly one in four (24 per cent of) Labour voters said they supported the Labour Party so keenly that they encouraged others to vote for it without being asked, while only one in 10 of those who expected to vote for the Conservatives were out there convincing their friends.

At the other end of the spectrum, four times as many people (12 per cent) across the country said they were so strongly opposed to the Conservative Party that they actively attempted to discourage others from voting for it without being asked. Only three in a hundred were as strongly opposed to Labour. This meant there were over 5 million electors actively arguing against John Major's re-election, countered by only just over a million true blue Tories rubbishing New Labour.

This passion for Blair was especially pronounced among young voters. Twice as many under-25s were criticising the Conservatives as praising them - by 6 per cent to 3 per cent. The reverse was true of Labour; 7 per cent of under-25s were active enthusiasts compared to the 3 per cent who were active opponents.

Only 35 per cent of the electorate thought that the Conservatives would be good at doing what is best for Britain if the party continued in power, while 52 per cent thought Labour would perform well in government. The extent of the transfer of alliances recorded in election booths is reflected by our finding that one elector in six, or 17 per cent, said that they'd changed their mind with the coming of New Labour, and that although they had never voted for Labour in the past they probably would in the future.

MORI interviewed 1,133 British adults face to face, in their homes, on 22 April 1997.

Robert Worcester is chairman of MORI.