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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 May, 2005, 22:31 GMT 23:31 UK
'A drift-off'

By Mark Mardell
Chief political correspondent, at Labour HQ

POSTED: Thursday 5 May, 2315BST

Labour are admitting that there has been "a drift-off" of voters, but are claiming that it could prove that their strategy was absolutely correct. They say that the Conservative vote doesn't appear to have increased at all and any gains they make will be as a result of people staying at home or voting Lib Dem.

Expect Labour candidates and ministers to claim throughout the night that this is still a great historical result that they have won a third term and the Conservatives have shown that they are not ready to form a government.

The biggest shame is that the real issues didn't come up in the electoral debate. The election period was al about managerial efficiency and not about conviction or belief. While I do not think the Tories have got every detail buttoned down I passionately believe in small government and personal enterprise underpinned by a caring society based on respect and tolerance. I don't see any of this in Labour or the Lib Dems so I am prepared to give Howard a chance.
Stephen Bell, Elmdon, Essex, UK

Looks like another Labour victory, a smaller majority so perhaps the Lib Dems can have some influence over policy and the Conservatives are still nowhere near Labour. A good result I think! Why Tony Blair should step down having won a third term despite Iraq shows that on the issues that matter, that shape the future, he is the most popular leader.
Lee, London, UK

Well, the most consistent pattern in the first three declared results is BNP gains! i hope the "drift off" isnt heading too far right.
Adam Corner, Cardiff

This is going to be a dire night for Labour, but they will hang on. I think it will be the beginning of the end for Tony Blair though. However, the Conservatives seem to be flatlining. Any gains they make will be from voters switching from Labour to Lib Dem, so Michael Howard might be out the door soon as well. I don't think anyone can call this election boring now.
David Patrick, Reading, UK

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