Friday, May 06, 2005
So, it's a good news/bad news day for Tony Blair. Blair goes into the history books having produced a record third consecutive general election win for Labour, but with significant losses. But do Blair/Labour losses translate to Conservative wins?
A savvy young Tory-leaning Brit political writer emails -- at around Friday morning, 5:30 A.M. (UK time), so the numbers are not final.
He's a bit more sanguine than most of the British media about what all this means:
"Blair's majority is halved, from 160 to about 75. So this is a slap on the face -- but not a very hard one. He's got 75 more MPs than every other party combined.
The share of the vote, shows Labour losing to the left LibDems. And where does it leave our Conservatives?
Not as far as they should be. [Tory leader Michael] Howard set a target of 50 seats - he won [about] 30. He underscored by his own measure.
[H]is share of the vote was up 0.5% - not much. Howard will go -- but not until Brown replaces Blair at Labour's helm...So, no breathrough for Conservatism here. But for once, it was not abject defeat. And, for us, thats a start."
Make of it what you will.
UPDATE: Kenneth Baer, filling in for the honeymooning Josh Marshall asks the question of why do campaigns feel the need to hire consultants whose last big-name job resulted in spectacular failure. This is problematic just dealing with domestic concerns, but it seems even more so when you decide to go overseas for "good help." Kos made a similar observation about Bob Shrum. Though, to be fair, Kos should recognize that Labour still, you know, actually won.
Again, it seems to me that the biggest predictor of who wins national elections, on both sides of the Atlantic is a) which side manages to create an ongoing, understandable, narrative and b) economic stability/growth. If the opposition can't create a counter-narrative to top that of the party in power, they can do well at the margins (i.e., individual district/constituency seats), but they can't create a complete wave that will bring them to power. Compare this election, for example, with the 1994 off-year US election that brought the GOP into a majority.
UPDATE II: Buh-bye, Mr. Howard, exit stage right. As our UK political writer above observed, Howard "underscored by his own measure." Who's next. Don't know, but how about, for once, Tories, you elect an opposition leader who, has, um, hair?
UPDATE III: While everyone focused on the Liberal Democrats contributing to Labour's decline by clawing away anti-war supporters on the left, UK blogger Richard North points out the real action was on the anti-EU right, where the UK Independence Party (UKIP) drew support that would otherwise have gone to the Tories (hat tip to Andrew Sullivan. Of course, I had to link directly to Mr. North's site because I thought his blog template was way cool!)