Bits and Pieces

Friday, May 06, 2005

Post-Election Opinion

Apart from the unfortunate loss of Internet access, last night went pretty well. Surprisingly enough, most of the exit polls were deadly accurate - Labour are back in with a projected 356 seats with less than 30 constituencies left to report. However, this majority is far from ideal for Blair. While an historic vote of confidence from the British people to ask him back for a third term, it's clear to see that the political landscape today is very different from anything we've seen in the last 4 years.

The Conservatives may once again have become a viable opposition. They're projected to finish up with 198 seats in this parliament - far from threatening, but a good sign nonetheless for the Tories. Similarly, the Lib Dems made significant gains at the expense of Labour. While I doubt I'll live to see a Lib Dem administration it's very interesting to see them win seats such as Manchester Withington.

The most important outcome of the night, of course, is the slashed majority of the Labour Party. A stark contrast to the Labour landslides of '97 and '01 when voters rejected Thatcherite conservative politics in favour of Tony's New Labour, Blair escaped this year with around 36% of the popular vote - only 3% more than the Tories.

One of the reasons for this reduced majority has been th protest vote factor, previous Labour voters turning to the Lib Dems to protest Blair's handling of the Iraq war. While not enough to unseat him it's more than enough to give the party a scare. Labour must now work hard to win back the trust of these protest voters. Without these voters to create a buffer between Labour and the Conservatives it could be a very interesting night indeed.
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