Fox News reports that Tony Blair has won an historic third term as prime minister of England. The projection is that Blair’s Labour party will win 356 seats in parliament, compared to 209 for the Conservatives, and 53 for the Liberal Democrats. The popular vote is projected at 37 percent for Laboor and 33 percent for the Conservatives.
Labour’s parliamentary margin has been sharply reduced. Fox suggests that this is “punishment for going to war with Iraq,” and so it might be. On the other hand, the anti-war Liberal Democrats only gained two seats. The party that really gained, the Conservatives, pretty much supported the war, although it has denounced Blair for allegedly misleading the country about it. Moreover, it’s a bit unrealistic to expect any leader to win three landslide victories in a row.
Early on, I viewed this election as win-win for the U.S. Either Blair, our staunch friend, or a more conservative and similarly pro-U.S. party would win. I don’t think it’s turned out quite that way, though. Blair’s margin may not be large enough to enable him to govern effectively, given the leftist leanings of his party, and he may eventually turn over control to the less attractive (from our perspective) Gordon Brown. Nonetheless, Blair has made history with his victory tonight, and the three main leaders of the coalition that toppled Saddam now have all been re-elected.
UPDATE: Joe Trippi, the liberal who ran Howard Dean’s campaign, worked for Blair’s re-election campaign this year. Appearing on MSNBC, Trippi says that the Conservative gains had much to do with their tough stance against immigration. Trippi doubts that Blair was the victim on an anti-war backlash. He speculates that such a backlash would have helped the Liberal Democrats, not the Conservatives.
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