Dan Smith
"The Labour landslide" meaning the Labour party LOST? UK, R. F. Delderfield, "The Dreaming Suburb," 1958
R. F. Delderfield was a UK novelist. <em>The Dreaming Suburb</em> was published in 1958 and is part of a two-novel series called <em>The Avenue</em>. There is a reference to the 1931 election. The character, Jim Carver, was a Socialist and therefore supported the Labour party. We read:

<em>Jim Carver was not unduly cast down by the Labour landslide in October that year, and the virtual collapse of the party that was to have to ushered in the Millennium.</em>

In the UK, does "Labour landslide," without further explanation, mean that the Labour party <em>lost</em>?

In the United States, a phrase like "an Eisenhower landslide" would mean that Eisenhower <em>won</em>; a "Democratic landslide" would mean that the Democratic party <em>won</em>. To use "landslide" to refer to a loss, you would need to say so. In 1964, Republican Barry Goldwater ran against Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson. We would need to say "there was a Republican landslide loss" or "the Republicans lost by a landslide," or "the Republicans lost in a landslide," but we could just say "there was a Democratic landslide."
Jun 24, 2020 5:12 PM
Comments · 4
Either the common meaning has reversed since 1958, or Delderfield was confused. I'm going to bet on the latter.
June 24, 2020
I would expect 'landslide' to mean 'landslide [victory]': that's how it's generally used in the UK. For example, in more recent years, the term 'Labour landslide' has usually referred to Blair's decisive win in the 1997 General Election.

In Delderfield's time, 'Labour landslide' would have been understood as the Labour party's win in 1945.
June 24, 2020
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July 21, 2020
La Liseuse, the passage in italics is a verbatim quote, this reference is to the 1931 election, and it is perfectly clear that it refers to a loss by the Labour party. It is taking place in the 1930s, it refers to the "virtual collapse" of the party, and I admit that it's tricky but he says the Socialist, Jim Carver was "cast down" by the loss, just that he wasn't "unduly" cast down.

So I think you are confirming that "landslide" means the same thing on both sides of the Atlantic, and that Delderfield's usage is puzzling.
June 24, 2020
Dan Smith
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