|A LABOUR LANDSLIDE|
What will Tony Blair's government mean for the UK?
May 6, 1997
in this forum:
What is Tony Blair's mandate? What is Labour's agenda? What does this election do for the Liberal Democratic Party? Will the Labour Party break into factions? What will the election mean for the Irish peace process?
May 2, 1997:
ITN reports on the inauguration of the new Labour government.
April 29, 1997:
Simon Marks reports on the final days of the campaign.
Browse the NewsHour's index of European affairs.
ITN's Election Page
GE97 is an election site sponsored by Yahoo UK/Ireland.
A question from Don Wheeler of South Bend, Indiana:
British Election Forum
A large majority in a parliamentary system is rare-more often a mere plurality is a good accomplishment. I wonder if Mr. Blair will view this as a mandate to make major (no pun intended) changes--despite his announced intentions.
I also wonder if the Labour Party-having been out of power for so long-is more likely to maintain unity on major issues, or will it be susceptible to factionalization?
I'd be very interested in your thoughts.
Mary Dejevsky of The Independent responds:
Big majorities - though not as big as this majority - are more common in Britain than some European countries, because ours is a strict 'first past the post' system, not the proportional representation that can lead more often to a 'hung' parliament.
It will certainly make it easier for Mr. Blair to get his legislation through parliament, though his agenda - especially on social policy - looks quite radical (and right wing!) as it is, without adding much to it.
With such a large majority - as the Tories found under Thatcher - there is a risk that party weakens: unity appears less necessary to the MPs themselves and, because there are so many MPs, there may be more at the philosophical 'fringes.' Particular points of friction could be education - relations of public to private sector; social benefits - should a workfare system be compulsory; and on Europe - where Labour is just as divided as the Tory party.
Tom Rhodes of The Times responds:
The Labour Party is still in shock after its landslide victory, but Mr. Blair and his closest advisers need look no further than their conservative rivals to recognise the consequences of divisions within the party. Traditionally a party of factions, Labour appears to have outgrown its past and really is, as its title suggests, New Labour. Even idealogues such as John Prescott, the new Deputy Prime Minister, have shown little inclination to revert to the old days. If history is precedent, however, it will not be plain sailing.