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The moving centre : preferences for government activity in Britain, 1950-2005

Bartle, J and Dellepiane Avellaneda, Sebastian and Stimson, J (2011) The moving centre : preferences for government activity in Britain, 1950-2005. British Journal of Political Science, 41 (2). pp. 259-285. ISSN 0007-1234

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The political ‘centre’ is often discussed in debates about public policy and analyses of party strategies and election outcomes. Yet, to date, there has been little effort to estimate the political centre outside the United States. This article outlines a method of estimating the political centre using public opinion data collected for the period between 1950 and 2005. It is demonstrated that it is possible to measure the centre in Britain, that it moves over time, that it shifts in response to government activity and, furthermore, that it has an observable association with general election outcomes.