Tony Blair and his wife Cherie went to cast their vote in a poll which may well weaken the British prime minister’s authority, after recent weeks which have seen the government’s image tarnished by allegations of corruption and incompetence. Blair’s administration is hoping that voters in today’s English local elections will take the long view on it’s record – notably it’s economic success, with Britain in its 14th year of uninterrupted growth.
New Conservative leader David Cameron is hoping that his attempt to change his party’s image, making it more modern and compassionate, will pay off in electoral gains. Like Cameron, the new Liberal Democrat leader, Menzies Campbell, is likely to benefit from Labour’s unrelenting stream of setbacks.
One of the main battlefields in today’s ballot is London, where Labour is expecting to loose half of the boroughs that it currently controls. Smaller groupings such as the far right British National Party and the Greens may also see electoral gains at Labour’s expense. It is feared that abstention rates may reach record levels of 70 per cent.