ES1702's Wikibox & Graphics Thread

Tony Goes Long...and Misses
Tony Blair had been widely expected to call a general election for May 2005, four years after the no-change election in 2001 that resulted in a historic second landslide for Labour under his leadership. By the end of March 2005, though, with just days to go until an election coinciding with the local elections would have to be called the opinion polls had stubbornly shifted in favour of Michael Portillo's Conservatives. The scale of the 2001 victory might have meant that even the small Tory lead suggested by the polls might've still led to a third Labour term, but with the Liberal Democrats also up it was judged that it was best not to take the risk and that the party should take stock at the local elections before considering when to launch their bid for a third term.

In the end, the local elections proved to be a triumph for the Conservatives. Gaining two hundred seats and control of several councils, while Labour slipped back across the country. Any prospect of a snap June election was off the cards. While Labour recovered in the polls over the summer months, by the time a chance arose again for an election to be called Portillo was cementing another strong run of poll leads. In the end, Blair decided to go long and put off the election until May 2006 - just one month before the absolute latest point he could go the country.

The gamble, to go long and try to win the country over, didn't work and Blair missed spectacularly. Labour's vote slipped to 28.4% - the worst since 1983 - although it's 2001 base cushioned the fall in seats to place the party of 271 - just 11 behind the Conservatives, who scored 35.7% and 282 seats. The Liberal Democrats achieved the best third-party vote share since 1983 at 22.9%, although this translated into only 5 additional seats taking them to 56 - the best performance since 1929. Charles Kennedy had already explicitly ruled out a coalition with Labour, and a deal with the Conservatives seemed unlikely. Having underperformed expectations, and unwilling to prop up an unpopular Prime Minister, the Lib Dems opted to excuse itself from talks on the formation of a government.

Accounting for the Speaker and abstentionist Sinn Fein, the absence of the Lib Dems from any arrangement left a precarious situation in the parliamentary arithmetic. The "Labour bloc" formed of Labour, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the SDLP returned 292 MPs. The "Conservative bloc" of the Conservatives, DUP and sole Ulster Unionist also returned 292 MPs. Ultimately, Blair resolved to push on as Prime Minister and gave a commitment to stand down as Labour leader before Easter 2007. The death of Conservative MP Eric Forth on 17th May made the parliamentary maths ever so slightly easier for Blair when it came to the Queen's Speech vote on 23rd May - it passed by 291 votes to 290.


Tony Blair's third government did not last long. Surviving vote by vote, the battles over the Identity Cards Bill ultimately precipitated the fall of the government. Considered a key piece of legislation in Labour's agenda, the Bill had been delayed in the previous Parliament by the House of Lords but brought back after the election. Faced with rebellious backbenchers and a united opposition from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the Second Reading was delayed repeatedly from June until the crunch vote was finally called at the beginning of November. The Bill was roundly defeated with the opposition and more than a dozen Labour backbenchers uniting against it. After holding the Pre-Budget Report on 8th November, Blair announced that he would be calling an election for 7th December with dissolution on 13th November in a bid to regain Labour's lost majority.

The election resulted in the first Conservative majority in 14 years, with Michael Portillo becoming Prime Minister with 329 seats - an overall majority of 12. Labour slipped to 217 seats - it's worst showing since 1983. The Liberal Democrats saw a drop in their share of the vote, but increased their seats to 61 - the best showing for the third party since 1923. Blair resigned as Prime Minister on 8th December 2006 - ending nine and a half years of Labour government.


I was personally rooting for Sajid Javid. Mordaunt seems like the next best candidate. Rishi is way too posh, and every time he opens his mouth I hear Cameron and Osborne.
Mordaunt’s got the momentum. Truss is irrelevant, as everyone is either talking about Rishi the frontrunner, Mordaunt’s strength, or the surprise showing of the lesser candidates.
I am a bit worried about the prospect of Truss uniting with Badenoch and Braverman and overtaking.

Butler, Burnham and Greening Fight for PM Job as Assembly Convenes
BBC News - 18 September 2023

Deputy Prime Minister Dawn Butler's presumed easy walk to Number 10 hasn't gone quite to plan. As part of the coalition agreement between the Green Alternative and Butler's Solidarity Union after the 2021 election, in exchange for Patrick Harvie remaining as Prime Minister it was agreed that - given the closeness of the results with the Greens winning 51 seats and Solidarity winning 50 seats - the pair would swap roles halfway through the term. That day comes today and the Federal Assembly is convening a special sitting to elect a new Prime Minister after Harvie formally notified the Speaker and President Blair of his intention to resign last week.

It is Andy Burnham, the Social Democratic Party leader, who has thrown the spanner in the works for Butler. After joining in both of Harvie's coalitions after the 2017 and 2021 elections, Burnham and the SDP have chosen to use this moment to flex their muscles to extract more concessions. The SDP's key demands are a renewed commitment to nuclear energy to help keep the cost of household bills low, a freeze to Air Passenger Duty and tougher controls on migration including a two-year freeze on skilled migrant visas and scrapping the planned cut in the minimum residency to claim benefits from 6 months to 3.

Burnham was initially thought to be prepared to back Christian Democratic Alliance leader Justine Greening for Number 10, after denying her approaches in both 2017 and 2021. With the Freedom Party offering their support, that would have paved the way for Burnham to become Deputy PM and wield far more influence than he does now. But now sources in Westminster say Burnham believes he can go one step further and move into Number 10 himself.

SDP sources have told the BBC that Burnham has met with both Alliance Party leader Susan Kramer and Freedom Party leader Nadine Dorries in his Westminster office today ahead of the Assembly voting at 5pm. Kramer's Alliance refused to back both the coalition and Greening in the 2021 vote, despite the last time they were in government - when they led it under David Laws between 2009 and 2017 - only happening because of the support of the Greens and Solidarity. The Alliance have not backed an SDP Prime Minister since 2001. The Freedom Party, despite providing votes to successful bids for the Prime Minister in the past, has never been in government.

It would be unprecedented for the SDP to form a government with the Alliance and the Freedom Party. It would be a gamble but it could be one that pays dividends. A coalition of the centre-left, the centre and right would be the most balanced government since Stephen Dorrell's in 2005 and it would install the first SDP Prime Minister for almost two decades. It sounds like a too good to be true scenario for Social Democrats. And it might just be that. Burnham can have as many discussions as he would like, but whether such a coalition could work in reality is unknown. Whether the three party's AMs are willing to take that gamble and vote for it is doubtful. And, even if they did, whether they'd be sure to win the vote in the Assembly this evening and send Burnham off to the Palace for an audience with the President is an entirely different question.

As AMs convene in the chamber it is not yet clear who will be nominated or who will be backing whom. All that is clear is that Dawn Butler, who was so confident just a week ago of walking into Number 10 today, will be doing anything but sitting comfortably in the chamber this afternoon.

New PM: Burnham Takes Shock Win By 1 Vote
BBC News - 18 September 2023

SDP leader Andy Burnham will be Britain's next Prime Minister after sweeping to a shock 1 vote victory in the Federal Assembly's vote to choose a successor to Patrick Harvie as he leaves office after 6 years. Today's vote was expected to be a formality after the three coalition parties agreed in 2021 that Harvie and SDU leader Dawn Butler would swap jobs halfway through the term, but third partner Burnham demanded more concessions from Butler in exchange for his support.

In the end, after initially flirting with the idea of voting for CDA leader Justine Greening, Burnham chose to pursue the top job himself. Swift negotiations with the Alliance and Freedom Party seem to have resulted in a new three-way coalition. It will see the SDP take the premiership for the first time in 18 years, the Alliance return to government after 6 years and the Freedom Party enter government for the first time ever.


Greening has offered her congratulations to Burnham and wished him luck. Dawn Butler has not yet commented and there is speculation that members of her party, and the Greens, are so incensed by Burnham's apparent betrayal of them that they may seek to bring a no confidence motion in the government to the Assembly as soon as possible in a bid to force an election. A bid that would be successful if they can get either the CDA or the BNP on board.

Patrick Harvie will shortly travel to Buckingham Palace to meet with President Blair and formally tender his resignation. Burnham will then make the same journey to be appointed, before going on to Downing Street to address the people directly for the first time. He will then begin the process of forming his new government. What the exact division of jobs will be between the parties is not known. All the SDP have confirmed so far is that Alliance leader Susan Kramer will become Deputy Prime Minister, in addition to an as yet unconfirmed departmental job, and Freedom Party leader Nadine Dorries will become Defence Secretary. How long any of them will last in their new jobs, if a no confidence vote becomes a reality, is anyone's guess.