WRING, D., 2006. Focus group follies? Qualitative research and British Labour Party strategy. Journal of Political Marketing, 5 (4), pp.71-97.
Media coverage of the contemporary British Labour party routinely suggests party
leaders, notably Tony Blair, have been overly reliant on using focus group as a means of
obtaining voter feedback. The paper explores this popular understanding by considering how
and when qualitative forms of opinion research began to play a significant role in developing
campaign strategy. Following their incorporation into party planning during the mid-1980s,
focus groups provided an increasingly influential (and at the time more discreet) source of data
and support for the leadership's Policy Review later that decade. Following the 1992 election
defeat selective findings from the party's qualitative research programme became integral to
the public relations' initiatives of Labour's self-styled 'modernisers', particularly in their
largely successful attempt to delegitimise and then marginalise the role of the party's once
formidable affiliated union supporters in internal affairs. Crucially this contributed to a
climate that enabled the key moderniser Tony Blair to emerge and win the leadership.