Labour in Trouble?
Just a few weeks ago, the UK election seemed all but settled. The Blair government had weathered accusations of manipulation and dishonesty in the lead up to the Iraq war, the Tories appeared incompetent and scattered, and the Liberal Democrats struggled to find a voice. However, an onslaught of anti-immigrant pandering from the Conservatives (and, in pure New Labour fashion, a bit of counter-pandering from the Blairites) has helped to narrow the margins in the polls.
Meanwhile, the cold war between Blair and rival Gordon Brown has heated up, and many party activists are calling Blair's personality a liability. They want to see a "stronger role" for Brown in the election campaign. Blair is seen as "too presidential", an attribute which is alienating married women and working class men, two key Labour demographics.
I would still predict a Labour victory, but it is conceivable that Blair will not last through another term. A Brown leadership could signal a slight move to the left, though it is doubtful that Britain's foreign policy will change dramatically. Slavishly defending American policies has been the political consensus in Britain since the Second World War, and dogged skepticism toward latching their fortunes to Europe will persist for some time.
If Blair steps down, however, it will lift the burden of loyalty from many cautious Labour MP's and activists, and we may hear more anti-war noise coming from the party's base. This can only be a good thing.