First press report of 'Landslide syndrome'Eos logo
The Eos Life~Work resource centre
Page updated 14 June 2001

Parliament in transition:
honeymoon, crisis and recovery

Transition management issues following the UK election landslide in 1997

Dai Williams, Chartered Occupational Psychologist

Cover of Parliament in transition, Dec 97

Part 1 - After the honeymoon I Part 2 - from crisis to recovery I Part 3 - Review

"A survival guide for MPs" - BBC Newsnight Producer, 31 October 1997

UK press headines Oct 1997- Feb 1998

Copyright © Eos Career Services 1997-2001. All rights reserved. ISBN 0 9532083 2 X


Part 1: After the honeymoon (first edition - 7 October 1997)

1. Objectives
2. The post-election transition
3. Adult life events and the transition cycle
4. Hazards and opportunities during transitions
5. Surviving and thriving: managing personal change
6. Differing challenges for specific groups
7. Potential impact of other major events
8. Recommendations
9. Conclusions

Part 2: From crisis to recovery (second edition - 7 December 1997)

1. Objectives
2. Career First Aid
3. Lifeline - your past as a key to your future
4. Your defining moment
5. Transition scenarios for the new Parliament

Part 3: Review supplement (review edition - September 1998)

1. Hypothesis, forecast and events
2. Transition management interventions
3. Conclusions for theory and practice

Introduction to the Internet Edition

Parliament in transition included forecasts and survival strategies for the first year of the new UK Parliament after the May 1997 General Election. It started from the question "What happens after the honeymoon period for new governments?"

This Internet edition has been published for people interested in prospects for individual politicians and the UK Parliament after the Government's second election landslide victory on 7 June 2001. Changes of role for Cabinet Ministers and some Government departments, the Opposition's task of electing a new leader, the arrival of new MPs and the departure of experienced ones are likely to start a new transition period for individual politicians and some parties. These changes may be less dramatic than in 1997 though external events promise other transition crises for the Government later this year.

The principles of personal and political transition management described here should be as relevant for individuals and parties in the first year of the new UK Parliament as they were in 1997-98. They have practical implications for politicians, political parties and new governments in any country - past, present and future. As before transition theory offers warnings of potentially hazardous crisis periods but also new opportunities and encouragement for losers as well as winners.

The Internet edition combines the first and second editions plus the Review written a year later comparing original forecasts with actual events. The Review Edition was compiled in 1999 because of the wider potential for political transitions in politics for changes then and forecast for 2000.

Parliament in transition opened up a whole new area for research and practice by applying established organization and work psychology principles to political arenas. Political analysts and commentators can apply the transition cycle template to other political events in the UK since spring 1998 for individuals and parties, including political 'come-backs' for individual MPs and ex-MPs. More strategic issues and events were reviewed in another Eos study - Accidents waiting to happen - in February 2000, and applied to international transitions in 2001 in the Power or Peace project in February 2001.

Transition effects are most serious when they affect the state of mind of individual world leaders and other senior politicians prior to national or regional crises in any country. By 1999 transitions and crises arising from political conflict and personal trauma were affecting senior politicians and communities in Northern Ireland, the USA, Indonesia, Malaysia and Russia and elsewhere. They may have played a significant role in triggering international crises e.g. in Sudan, Iraq and the Balkans.

Transitions are a natural psychological process that affects all individuals in periods of change. They need to be managed with care to minimise their hazards and maximise their opportunities. Transition management was recognised by Shell International several years ago as a strategic issue in personal development and organisation change and is now a significant aspect of their management development.

Conflicts in Iraq, the Balkans and in Palestine and Israel presented new traumas for senior politicians and others directly involved in the UK, Nato and other countries. These were likely to start other personal and political transition periods, or in some cases an extension of previously unresolved crises. The hazards and opportunities of transitions described in Parts 1 and 2 can apply in many contexts.

The start of new regional assemblies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 1999 were more positive political changes but also involved creating new organisations starting a potential Devolution transition with similar crisis and recovery periods. Again the change management principles introduced in Parliament in transition were likely to apply.

The experiences of the new UK Parliament in 1997-98 were valuable opportunities to learn about political change in the UK and elsewhere. The transition proposition needs rigorous research and interdisciplinary debate but does seem as relevant to politicians and political parties as it is in other careers and organisations. If so it may become a significant factor in strategic forecasting and psychohistory.

Parliament in transition raises serious questions about leadership styles and political practices (see Part 2 and the Review) but it has tried to avoid criticising personal motives or political policies. It was written for politicians of all parties. Transition management in politics is about how individuals and parties may avoid walking into minefields and how to get out of ones they may already be in, quickly and with minimum casualties. When transitions are recognised and managed they can liberate new insights, energy and wisdom for individuals and transformation for their parties, communities or other organisations.

Dai Williams
11 June 2001 (adapted from Postscript to the Review edition written in May 1999).

Copyright © Eos Career Services 1997-2001
This paper may be copied for personal use, education or research purposes provided Eos copyright is acknowledged. Brief extracts may be quoted for media review. Eos copyright is reserved. No part of this document or its illustrations may be used for commercial purposes or publication without prior agreement and agreed licence fee from the author. The printed version is available from Eos price £6 including postage.

NOTE: Since this Internet edition can be downloaded in separate parts some references and illustrations are duplicated.

Your comments are welcome on the Eos Life-Work Forum or by Email to Dai Williams at For other papers on transition psychology see the Community projects index and Life-work themes on the Eos website at

Page added 14 June 2001, updated 27 June 2001

Return to top

Parliament in transition links:
Part 1 - After the honeymoon I Part 2 - from crisis to recovery I Part 3 - Review

Other Eos website links:
Community projects index I lifework themes I professional networking
Eos intro I for you I for your organisation I specialist services I lifework forum