Tony Blair – – June 8 2001 – – happier times
One of the great dangers for General Election punters is to look at the forthcoming contest through the eyes of the last one.
The big division that we see on this site is between those who think that Labour will continue to enjoy the massive advantage of getting many more seats in relation to votes casts compared with the other parties and those who don’t.
But the election of June 2001 took place in a very different era. A month or so earlier, after their first main meeting, a reporter asked President Bush whether he had anything in common with Tony Blair. He replied that they “both used Colgate toothpaste“.
Now look at the two leader’s relationship and the prop it offers the President, as in Friday’s TV debate, when dealing with charges that the US was in a mess in Iraq because he had not created an international coalition.
In June 2001 Labour had had, with the exception of the petrol protest blip the previous September, huge opinion poll leads with the Labout share in the high 40s or low 50s. It had gone through a Parliament without ever being troubled by by-elections and on election day it had an almost clean sweep in seeing off Lib Dem challenges in Labour seats on Charles Kennedy’s target list.
In June 2001 Labour strongholds in the cities were, with one or two notable exception, immune from the Lib Dem challenges and major councils like Newcastle were still firmly in party hands.
In June 2001 Tony Blair could look confidently to the Muslim communities for a large share of their votes.
In June 2001 Tony Blair had large “trust” ratings in the opinion polls.
Will we revert back to the 2001 seats for votes model on polling day? If we do then Labour is home and dry with another huge majority. But if there is a different dynamic then anything could happen.