Blair wins with style

Report from Britain

Polling Day was Thursday, May 1. That evening my wife and I were sitting in an Indian restaurant across the road from the local Labour party headquarters. Through a window we watched the candidate, for whom we had voted earlier in the day, emerge with a party worker and set off jogging down the road. "It’s a long wait for them," said my wife. "They’ve got to do something to pass the time and keep their spirits up. He can’t get drunk, he’s got to keep sober for the count." We didn’t expect him to win; we live in Warwickshire, traditional Tory territory of small towns, rich countryside, and pretty villages, long represented in the House of Commons by a now septuagenarian knight. But we were wrong; when the result came through in the small hours of the morning, Sir Dudley had been defeated by the Labour man. And so it proved across the country, in a night which tumbled many records. The Labour party, with 419 MPs in a House of Commons of 660, has won the greatest victory in its history, surpassing its previous high-water mark at the 1945 election, and has the largest majority of any party for years. There are more women in Parliament-mostly on the Labour benches-than ever before. The Conservatives are down to 165, a quarter of the total, fewer than at any time since the great Liberal victory of 1906. And Tony Blair, taking office a few days before his forty-fourth birthday, is the youngest prime minister since 1812. It...

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About the Author

Bernard Bergonzi is the author of A Study in Greene, among many other books of literary criticism.