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Election Battles 1945-1997
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1997
1997: Blair's landslide
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1997: John Major
John Major struggles to lead a divided party

Watch and listen 1997
BBC Radio examines the results
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John Major ends the “phoney war”
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Neil Hamilton and Martin Bell lock horns in Tatton
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The Lib Dems stage a Punch and Judy show
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The best of election night coverage
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Tony Blair: "We will govern as New Labour"
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Tony Blair was by no means alone in creating what was to become New Labour, but he more than anyone else came to personify it.

It was under his leadership that the "modernisation" of the party was escalated to a degree not previously thought possible. The priority remained to strip away policies that he believed had lost the party the crucial support of the middle classes in 1992.

Blair - a public school, Oxford-educated barrister - was no son of the left or the Labour movement, although he was a onetime supporter of CND.

Before becoming leader in 1994 he was shadow home secretary, but having entered Parliament in the Thatcher years he had no experience of government.

After gaining the support of his powerful colleague and potential rival Gordon Brown for his leadership bid after John Smith's death, Blair won hands down in the contest between himself, John Prescott and Margaret Beckett.

The dramatic changes - in the face of disquiet - Blair oversaw to his own party allowed him to cast himself in the role of a strong, commanding leader, taunting John Major: "l lead my party, he follows his".

For John Major the 1992-1997 parliament had been a bruising ride.

The Tories lost their way as feuding over European policy and sleaze both pointed to a party tired after having spent nearly 20 years in office.

Things got so bad between Major and members of his own cabinet he was even caught on tape referring to several of them as "bastards".

But despite the Tories' problems, by 1997 Major could point to a strong economy - and campaigned on the theme "Britain's booming, don't let Labour ruin it".

However, since the Tories had denied responsibility for the recession of the early 1990s, the voters did not give them credit for the subsequent recovery.

For Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown - the oldest but perhaps most energetic of the main party leaders - the campaign was particularly demanding, as he was the key nationally recognised figure in his party.

His strong personality - and his ability to speak with authority on foreign affairs, particularly Bosnia - as well as a forthright style impressed many voters, even though his party seemed to be polling a lower share of the vote than in 1992.