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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Analysis: What elections told us
By David Cowling
BBC Political Research Unit

Tony Blair in pensive mood
Tony Blair's election-winning aura has vanished
Labour was badly wounded on 10 June, but it was not a killer blow.

Tony Blair's reputation as an election winner has been shredded and it will take more than a media-choreographed apology to restore it.

But even though voters may have fallen out of love with Labour, there is no sign that they are willing to transfer their affection to any other party.

The Conservatives needed to deliver a knockout punch this June and singularly failed to do so.

Populus poll

They made fewer than 300 net gains in the local elections, virtually stood still in London and saw the biggest decline in vote share of any party compared with the 1999 European election.

This is not general election winning form - given they will need a swing of more than 10%.

Their showing is in line with the Populus poll from early May, which found while 74% of voters were unhappy with the government, only 35% would prefer the Tories in power.

The Liberal Democrats' results in the local poll were mixed.

Michael Howard
The Tories did not make a major breakthough
They took seats in Labour heartlands which will not translate into Westminster constituencies but lost seats in the south where many of their existing MPs are defending slim majorities against Conservative challengers.

In London, Simon Hughes came nowhere near overtaking Steve Norris but in the European election their 13% share five years ago rose to 15% this time.

The biggest winners of the European election were the minor parties.

The UK Independence Party just surpassed the Green Party's 14.9% share in 1989 and finished with 12 seats.

With a significantly higher turnout than in 1999, the fact that one in three voters rejected all three main parties seems down to voter antipathy rather than apathy.

General election

So what conclusions can be drawn?

Pre-election polls found very large numbers of people who intended to vote on 10 June would not vote for the same party at the next general election.

Encouragingly for the government, the ICM/BBC election night programme poll found 58% of respondents thought Labour were delivering a strong economy.

The European election delivered a blow to the political establishment.

But the voters concerned saw it as a pain free option - something they could do without visiting any consequences upon themselves.

Ultimately there are no grounds for complacency for any of the main parties, but nor do these results give us any insight into the outcome of the next general election.



Blair's big task
Labour leader needs to reassure his MPs after European election disappointment




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