Gone the Dream Ticket

Following Meadow's fantastic "Things Can Really Get Worse" I have been inspired to make a rip off/homage with my own "Timeline in a Day". This idea has been floating around in my head for a while and has been subject to a number of my PM lists and one botched TL opening. I hope this style of TLs continue, otherwise I may never finish any of my ideas. So without further ado I introduce Gone the Dream Ticket fingers crossed it goes well.

By Alfie J Steer


The death of Neil Kinnock in a driving accident turned the 1983 Labour Leadership election on its head. Rather than a landslide victory for the most “uniting” candidate, an all-out battle began between the right and left of the party. Peter Shore became the image of the left wing firebrands, supported by Tony Benn, while Roy Hattersley became the bastion of the right, gaining the support of Denis Healey. As the election campaign progressed and with no third way candidate viable to stand many on both sides feared further infighting could cause and even longer stretch in opposition. As a result following a long series of phone calls on a dark evening in July 1983, the “moderate Leftists” of the party pledged their support to Hattersely, providing that one of their own – Robin Cook – was endorsed to be deputy. Michael Foot called it their “Dream Ticket”.


Roy Hattersley: 54%

Peter Shore: 33%
Eric Heffer: 13%


Robin Cook: 58%

Michael Meacher: 25%
Gwyneth Dunwoody: 10%
Denzil Davies: 7%

Subsequent Leader: Roy Hattersley

Subsequent Deputy Leader: Robin Cook
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Hattersley and Cook’s “Dream Ticket” proved to be one of intense modernization. Robin Cook’s “Progress and Democracy” speech at the 1984 Labour Conference would go down in history as one of the first major acts to expel the Militants from the party. The revamped image of the party with the new Red Rose being adopted and the push for more moderate policies made the party finally an electoral force, with Hattersley running a very tight ship as leader.

As the four years of the ’83 - 87 Parliament progressed the Labour opposition grew in confidence as the Tories bounced from crisis to crisis. First the Miner’s strike in 1984, the IRA London Bombings in 1985, highlighting the failure of government security and the mass resignations following the Westland Affair further risked Thatcher’s Premiership. As time progressed further pressure was put on Thatcher as unemployment figures brought no relief to a slowly recovering economy.

By March 1987 the game was up. As Thatcher increased leadership threats from the left of the party and the defection of eight Tory MPs to the SDP-Liberal Alliance (including Edward Heath, Ken Clarke and Michael Heseltine) led to her shock resignation just prior to the expected General Election. At the Party’s spring concert and emergency election was held with Geoffrey Howe, Norman Tebbit and Leon Brittan standing to become Thatcher’s successor.


Norman Tebbit: 50%
Geoffrey Howe: 29%
Leon Brittan: 21%​

Subsequent Leader/Prime Minister: Norman Tebbit

Government: Conservative Majority
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The 1987 General Election left may at a loss of what could happen next. After intense campaigning from all three major parties the result was a hung parliament with the Conservatives as the largest party. Labour had gained nearly seventy seats and the Alliance had achieved its largest seat count for any third party since the 1920s. Despite initial negotiations between the SDP and their old allies in the Labour Party no control of the House and Downing Street could be achieved.

Almost immediately Tebbit invited David Steel and David Owen to No.10 to discuss a coalition. Following his refusal to introduce any form of electoral reform the two men pulled their parties out of any negotiations, deciding instead to focus on internal matters for the time being. By the end of the week however a deal had been struck with the Ulster Unionists and the Conservatives muddled on in a minority government with UUP leader James Molyneaux becoming Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.


Conservative: 310 (-87)
Labour: 277 (+68)
SDP-Liberal Alliance: 40 (+17)
Ulster Unionist: 9 (-2)
SNP: 3 (+1)
SDLP: 3 (+2)
Plaid Cymru: 3 (+1)
Democratic Unionist: 3 (NC)
Sinn Fein: 1 (NC)
Ulster Popular Unionist: 1 (NC)

Subsequent Prime Minister: Norman Tebbit

Government: Conservative Ulster Unionist Minority


Labour were disappointed by the results but happy to have reduced the Tories to a minority. Roy Hattersley however decided to “pack it in” and swiftly resigned as Labour Leader. His long term ally and Shadow Chancellor John Smith quickly announced his candidacy, with a challenge coming from Tony Benn and John Prescott. Robin Cook faced no challenge for the deputy leadership, despite many rumours of a possible standing from Jack Straw and even the young Tony Blair. At the party conference that September Hattersley delivered his “Farewell address” despite already being expected to carry on in the cabinet as Shadow Home Secretary. With the Tories struggling to govern the party hunted for a candidate to not only lead, but to ultimately and as it seemed inevitably Govern as Prime Minister. They found that candidate in John Smith, dubbed by the media as the “Edinburgh Bank Manager”.


John Smith: 57%
Tony Benn: 32%
John Prescott: 11%​

Subsequent Leader: John Smith

Deputy Leader: Robin Cook


By 1989 the minority government was reaching the end of its possible existence. As the government were constantly challenged in the House over issues of Europe and their economic program it seemed dissolution was unavoidable. Many were preparing themselves not only a defeat but a heavy one. On one of the darkest days of the government’s two year existence, Norman Tebbit even drafted a resignation statement after a heated cabinet meeting. Both the Labour Opposition - led by John Smith - and the newly merged Democratic Party - led by David Penhaligon – tore into Tebbit on a daily basis, whether it was during PMQs or debates on policies.

However, the fall of the Berlin Wall and success of a number of by-elections gave Tebbit the confidence to call a snap General Election in November 1989. The result was the first Labour Government in ten long years. Norman Tebbit’s plan had backfired and was sent packing from Downing Street as his party was reduced drastically yet again. John Smith entered Downing Street the same day, welcomed by huge crowds of cheering supporters, his speech “Times of Change” on the steps of No.10 became one of the most well known in modern British history. Meanwhile the Democrats enjoyed yet another stunning result and increased presence in the House of Commons.


Labour: 339 (+57)

Conservative: 236 (-74)
Democratic: 56 (+16)
Ulster Unionist: 9 (NC)
SDLP: 4 (+1)
Plaid Cymru: 4 (+1)
SNP: 3 (NC)
Democratic Unionist: 3 (NC)
Ulster Popular Unionist: 1 (NC)

Subsequent Prime Minister: John Smith

Government: Labour Majority
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After six turbulent months out of office, struggling to hold onto the leadership, Norman Tebbit finally resigned as Leader of the Conservative Party. The two main factions of the party the “Wets” and “Dries” quickly snapped up candidates to lead the party, one of them under the continuing banner of Thatcherism, the other in a more liberal direction. Despite receiving praise and support publicly, many within the party saw Tebbit’s leadership as a failure and too disconnected from the public. As a result they searched for a new more moderate leader, one who could unite the party from both ends and end the Conservative’s “nasty” image. Modernization became the key word of the leadership election and it gained traction most of all with the young John Major, the former Foreign Secretary.


John Major: 44%

Norman Lamont: 32%
Douglas Hurd: 24%

Subsequent Leader: John Major
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On the morning of 8th May 1994 Britain awoke to watch a new Prime Minister take to the steps of Downing Street. Gordon Brown’s infamous awkward smile greeted them. Following a number of operations earlier in the year the Prime Minister John Smith announced his intentions to not seek re-election in May. The result came as a shock to everyone. His great sweeping reforms, the introduction of the minimum wage, the devolution of regional parliaments and the successful economic boom coming Britain’s way had made an election victory in 1994 a dead cert, including his clear dominance over John Major in the House of Commons.

Nevertheless he chose to act in an almost “caretaker” role in the weeks of the election campaign while his successor as Labour Leader, Gordon Brown toured the country. John Major’s “Back to Basics” campaign failed and his soapbox style seemed laughable compared to Brown’s almost presidential style at rallies and speeches. Meanwhile the new leader of the Democrats Paddy Ashdown gained notable coverage for a third party as they hoped to make history once again.

As it was Labour won an easy re-election and the new dynamic partnership of Brown and Cook swept the political table with a massive three figure majority.


Labour: 382 (+48)

Conservative: 180 (-56)
Democratic: 67 (+11)
Ulster Unionist: 10 (+1)
SNP: 7 (+4)
Plaid Cymru: 4 (NC)
SDLP: 3 (NC)
Sinn Fein: 2 (+2)
Democratic Unionist: 2 (-1)​

Subsequent Prime Minister: Gordon Brown

Government: Labour Majority


By 1998 Gordon Brown called another General Election, once again facing a dead cert victory. The independence of the Bank of England and the thriving economy had made Labour a “safe pair of hands” while the Conservative opposition still fought among themselves as their new Leader Michael Portillo was ridiculed for being a “Thatcher MK2”. The Democrats, led by the former Tory Ken Clarke was yet again fighting for the Centrist vote, but soon came under pressure from Gordon Brown’s “New Labour” movement.


Labour: 350 (-32)

Conservative: 216 (+36)
Democratic: 63 (-4)
Ulster Unionist: 6 (-4)
SNP: 5 (-2)
Plaid Cymru: 4 (NC)
SDLP: 3 (NC)
Sinn Fein: 4 (+2)
Democratic Unionist: 5 (+3)

Subsequent Prime Minister: Gordon Brown

Government: Labour Majority
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