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Bad News From Across the Pond

In British local government elections today, Gordon Brown's Labour Party took a serious drubbing, finishing third with 24% of the total popular vote to the triumphant Tories (44%) and the Liberal Democrats (25%). It also appears that London Mayor Ken Livingstone has lost to Tory Boris Johnson, who would become the first elected Tory mayor of the city.

Explanations of the terrible Labour showing range from voter fatigue with a party that's been in power for eleven years; a weakening economy; and some controversial recent tax changes. Some on the Labour Left argue that the entire Blair-Brown "New Labour" project has gradually eroded the party's electoral base.

The next national parliamentary election is not required until 2010, though Brown could call it earlier. If the local election pattern held, the Tories would likely win a landslide victory similar to Labour's back in 1997.

Two years can be an eternity in British as well as American politics, but Brown's obviously got some fence-mending to do.