British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labour party has suffered a heavy defeat in local elections in England as voters registered their dissatisfaction with the government. As counting neared completion, Labour lost control of a number of key councils across the country. The opposition Conservatives benefited the most but the far right British National Party also did well at Labour’s expense.
It is the culmination of a very bleak period for Tony Blair. Labour’s cause has been undermined by political scandals, the bungled release of foreign prisoners and health service cuts. Some analysts say the outcome could hasten Blair’s departure as prime minister. A cabinet reshuffle is expected.
But equally under the spotlight is the new leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron. His supporters want to see this election as more than a mid-term protest vote against the government. Britain’s third party, the Liberal Democrats did not do as well as they had hoped. But the anti-immigration BNP is celebrating successes in several municipalities. England was the only part of the UK to vote.