Mayor Livingstone and the Coming Labour Split

The Labour Party's lopsided victory in the UK elections in 1997 was the result of a massive decline in the Conservative Party vote, rather than surge toward Labour. Labour candidates received approximately the same number of votes as they had five years earlier in 1992.

Consequently, some Labour and Liberal Democratic candidates won in 1997 with fewer votes than they lost with in 1992. The collapse of the Conservative vote produced a huge Labour majority. This majority, far from being a mandate for Labour, was a repudiation of the Conservatives. The average Conservative candidate received 5,000 to 10,000 fewer votes in 1997 than they had in 1992.

So, it was inevitable that the Labour Party would eventually fragment. Ken Livingstone's independent candidacy for Mayor is the first sign of this coming fragmentation. He will win the Mayoralty of London, no sweat, and become a second locus of power within the Labour Party.

Livingstone's candidacy and victory will be good for the UK and good for the Labour and Conservative Parties. It will create a viable opposition to Blair until and if the Conservative Party gets serious about governing again.

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf