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Labour wins but anger grows
NEW LABOUR'S claim to have a fresh mandate will look very threadbare in the months to come. Elected on the lowest turnout since records began, Blair's New Labour looked likely to have a majority of about 160 seats as we went to press.
"Opinion polls show that all the major policies Labour outlined during the campaign, such as greater privatisation of public services, are opposed by 80% of the population."
But this so-called landslide did not reflect the 'politics of contentment' as Jack Straw claimed on election night. Labour had fewer votes than it did in 1997. In turn that was lower than the vote John Major got in 1992.
On the surface it looks as if little has changed since the 1997 general election. But a lot has changed since then. There are signs of huge discontent from this election, showing Labour will be in for a turbulent second term.
The Wyre Forest result, where there was a higher turnout because people saw they could deliver a bloody nose to Labour on its NHS mess, shows how anger will turn into opposition against Labour.
40% of voters did not turn out in this election - a massive rejection of the establishment parties. Labour won this election because people voted against parties rather than for them - but only about one in four eligible voters appear to have voted for them.
Many more people did not vote than voted for the party that will now claim to govern. The low turnout, which was even more marked in 'traditional' Labour areas, shows that there was no enthusiasm for Labour.
This is a further sign of the Americanisation of British politics, where millions are effectively disenfranchised with no mainstream party to effectively represent them.
Millions of voters now view this as Blair's 'last chance' election and will only give them a short time to improve things. Recent opinion polls show that all the major policies Labour outlined during the campaign, such as greater privatisation of public services, are opposed by 80% of the population.
Those who voted for Labour have done so holding their noses. The Wyre Forest result and the good result for socialist candidates show that where there is an alternative offered Labour will not be given that second chance.
In The Socialist 9 June 2001: