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Tony Blair elections 2001
The House of Commons election 2001. The new cabinet list.
Article added on June 16, 2001

The House of Commons election 2001
Voters turnout 2001: 59% (1997: 71.5%). In total: 659 mandates.

 
  
New Labour
Tories
Liberal Democrats

2001
 
413 
166 
  52

2001 
 
40.7%
31.7%
18.3%

1997
 
418
165
  46

1997
 
43.2%
30.7%
16.8%

In May 1997, Tony Blair came to power after a landslide win in the General election (House of Commons election; there is no election for the Lords). But in fact, New Labour won half a million votes less than John Major five years before. This was only possible due to the first-past-the-post electoral system.


 
In the first years in power, Blair could count on record support from the public (over 90% at times) as well as from the press - something unseen in democracies before. Since these glory days, the wind has somewhat changed but due to the catastrophic situation within the Tory Party, a change of power could never be envisaged in 2001.
 
Whereas Tony Blair put New Labour at the center of the political map, William Hague and the Tories drifted towards the right, fighting against the Euro, Europe and asylum seekers. But these were not the themes at the heart of British voters who, for years, have been caring about the health, education and transport systems. As it turned out in 2001, being a rightwing populist does not always pay off - an experience Jörg Haider and the FPÖ recently made at the local elections in Vienna.
 
Health, education and transport are areas in which New Labour could not fulfill its overzealous promises. But because the voters believe that the Tories would perform even worse in these fields, the Conservative Party could not profit from the government's weaknesses and, by the way, the Tories did not even seriously try to present an alternative program in the mentioned areas.

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Regarding the Liberal Democrats, one has to say that, as New Labour moved to the center or even to the center right, the Liberal Democrats moved to the left. Being more social than Tony Blair earned them a 1.5% gain, but due to the first-past-the-post electoral system and the established two party system in Great Britain, the Liberal Democrats still had no chance to win enough seats to force New Labour into a coalition government.
 
Voter turnout massively decreased from 71.5% in 1997 to 59% in 2001. It mostly hit New Labour's strongholds, largely because Blair pursued Margaret Thatcher's and John Major's economic policies which alienated traditional Labour voters. In 2001, Blair's party got 0.5 million votes less than at the lost election in 1992 and 2.5 million votes less than in 1997.
 
Despite a robust economy with a yearly growth rate of some 2.5% since 1997, an unemployment rate which has fallen from over 7% to around 5% and an inflation rate of a bit more than 2%, Blair's economic record is not flawless. John Major's government had a similar record and laid down the foundation on which Blair could build on. Despite a reduction of taxes, the total amount of duties and taxes weighing on the private households has increased from 42% in 1997 to 46% in 2001 - all that without the promised healthcare, education and transport reforms implemented. Therefore, hard times may lay ahead of the British taxpayers.

 
Blair's new cabinet 2001

Prime minister

Tony Blair

Deputy prime minister

John Prescott

Chancellor

Gordon Brown

Lord chancellor

Lord Irvine of Lairg

Foreign secretary

Jack Straw

Home secretary

David Blunkett

Defence secretary

Geoff Hoon

Environment, food and rural affairs

Margaret Beckett

International development secretary

Clare Short

Work and pensions secretary

Alistair Darling

Transport, local government and regions

Stephen Byers

Trade and industry secretary

Patricia Hewitt

Health secretary

Alan Milburn

Education and skills secretary

Estelle Morris

Culture, media and sports secretary

Tessa Jowell

Northern Ireland secretary

John Reid

Welsh secretary

Paul Murphy

Scottish secretary

Helen Liddell

Treasury secretary

Andrew Smith

Leader of the Commons

Robin Cook

Leader of the House of Lords

Lord Williams

Chief Whip

Hilary Armstrong

Minister without portfolio

Charles Clarke



In the biggest government reshuffle for two decades, Tony Blair's replacement of Foreign secretary Robin Cook by Jack Straw, Home secretary in the previous government, came as the main surprise. Cook is now the Leader of the House of Commons. The general explanation given to this change stresses the fact that Cook was an outspoken pro-European and pro-Euro politician, whereas Straw was more reserved on these issues. Blair is said to try to carefully prepare the British public for a possible referendum on the Euro.
 
John Prescott remained Deputy prime minister, but he was not up to his job and, therefore, had to leave his mega-office for environment, transport and the regions, which was divided between Stephen Byers and Margaret Beckett.
 
In total, the reshuffle concerned 13 ministries. For the three top jobs of reform, health, education and transport, Blair chose three people of confidence. The Health minister, Alan Milburn, was confirmed in his office. The new education secretary is Estelle Morris. These two ministers are supposed to bring in a fresh wind of market reform into hospitals and schools. Margaret Beckett takes over as secretary for environment and agriculture from Nick Brown who, in times of BSE and mouth disease, was not up to his job.



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Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
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 © Copyright  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber All rights reserved.