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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Labour facing new political landscape

ANALYSIS
By Andrew Marr
Political Editor, BBC News

The point of elections is to change government, and this one has - not in the usual way of changing the party in power, but rather by forcing a change of style, tone and agenda from Labour.

Tony Blair
Mr Blair has lost much of his power and will need the support of others

Tony Blair with a majority of 66, and a limited time left in power, is not the Tony Blair of 1997 or 2001.

He has not lost power, but he has lost unconstrained power.

He will have to work in a more traditional way, taking advice, making deals and learning to handle a much harder Commons, in which the rebellious and discontented count more.

It is hard to imagine he will enjoy this but it will be essential if he is to get through any of the more radical reforms he promised.

Above all, he will have to work closely with Gordon Brown as they have campaigned together but not actually governed together before.

Achieving the impossible?

The bones of a deal are obvious - he sets a tighter limit to his time in office, and the chancellor works the party as only he knows how, in order to achieve some of what Mr Blair desires.

The prime minister proves that if his wings are clipped, he's not a lame duck too, and Mr Brown gets a timely, smooth transition.

What about the country?

The pundits said that if people wanted Labour, but restrained and chastened, that was not possible - there was no such option on the ballot paper.

But democracy is a remarkable thing and that is exactly what the voters have achieved.





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