Friday, May 06, 2005


British election results still coming in

Tony Blair's Labor Party has decidedly but not decisively won what everyone terms "an historic third term" (simply because Labor had never managed three consecutive victories). This was not unexpected; the polls had uniformly predicted that Labor would carry the day. But Labor's losses were substantial, and everyone—including Labor spokesmen—lays this at the feet of the Iraq war.

According to The Independent's chronology, The BBC's first projection was that Labor would lose 94 seats in Parliament, which would leave it with a majority of 66. Early this morning BBC predicted a Labor majority of 68 based on actual results rather than exit polls.

Both Conservative (Tory) and Liberal Democrat (Lib Dem) parties made substantial gains, but all of the gains for the Lib Dems came from Labor-held seats. Geographically, Labor's greatest losses were concentrated in the London area.

It is not yet clear (to me) what portion of the Tories' gains can be attributed to the drain of Labor support to the Lib Dems in those constituencies held by Labor, but I will hazard a guess that it was substantial.

With respect to the Iraq war, the Tories were not an alternative to Labor. Tory leader Michael Howard has repeatedly and consistently said that he would have gone to war regardless of what is now known about the "facts" that were presented leading up to the war. So British voters whose principal voting issue was the war were left with only the Lib Dems in most constituencies. A minor party "Respect," whose best-known leader is George Galloway, offered an alternative in some constituencies, and Galloway managed to pull off a huge upset in London.

It appears that if the Tories had opposed the war, they would have won this election.

Breaking news: Michael Howard has just announced he will resign from the Tory leadership position, though "he intends to stay on as leader until the Tories have the opportunity to consider whether it wishes to change the rules governing the choice of his successor."

We await a similar bulletin on Tony Blair.

I'll write more on the election after final results are in.

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