Twenty years ago this month: New Labour sweeps to power with landslide victory

Library picture dated 15/04/97 of nine month old James Austin being kissed by Labour Party leader Tony Blair during a walkabout at The Broadway, Crawley. James, now 5, handed a letter to Cherie Booth, at the famous door of 10 Downing Street, London, Monday 22 July 2002. He has written a letter to ask for his school, Three Bridges First School, Crawley in West Sussex, to be saved from a cost cutting merger. James was famously pictured as a baby being held by Tony Blair in the 1997 election campaign. See PA story EDUCATION School. PA Photo: Sean Dempsey.
Library picture dated 15/04/97 of nine month old James Austin being kissed by Labour Party leader Tony Blair during a walkabout at The Broadway, Crawley. James, now 5, handed a letter to Cherie Booth, at the famous door of 10 Downing Street, London, Monday 22 July 2002. He has written a letter to ask for his school, Three Bridges First School, Crawley in West Sussex, to be saved from a cost cutting merger. James was famously pictured as a baby being held by Tony Blair in the 1997 election campaign. See PA story EDUCATION School. PA Photo: Sean Dempsey.
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On May 1, the YEP editorial read: “As our democracy renews itself through the ballot box, Britain is yearning for a new purpose and new hope.

Whoever forms the next government - Labour after 18 years in the wilderness or the Tories for a fifth term - inherits a massively daunting task. It is nothing less than to restore our faith in government.”

And guess what this paper listed the main priorities for any government as: proper funding for the NHS, overcrowded schools and crime. Some things don’t change…

But some things do and on May 2, the YEP led with the headline: ‘Blair’s Britain’ after a jubilant Tony Blair won a landslide victory, which stunned the nation, leaving the Tories with fewer than 170 MPs. Some of those flung out into the wilderness after losing their seats included Michael Portillo, David Mellor, Malcolm Rifkind, Michael Forsyth, Ian Lang and Marcus Fox.

There were also defeats for Norman Lamont in Harrogate, Elizabeth Peacock in Batley & Spen but there were also huge gains for Labour MPs, including John Battle, John Gunnell and Fabian Hamilton.

Anti-Sleaze MP and former newscaster Martin Bell swept to victory over Tory Neil Hamilton in his Tatton stronghold.

Within days of taking office, Chancellor Gordon Brown raised interest rates by 0.25 per cent to 6.25 per cent but added from then on the Bank of England would be responsible for setting interest rates, with the government setting an inflation target of 2.5 per cent, which they had to try stick to.

Dutch Premier Wim Kok hosted Tony Blair in Amsterdam - the Treaty of Rome, the third major amendment to the 1957 Treaty of Rome), which enshrined in law the Schengen agreement (or free movement of people within Europe). Mr Blair was responsible, however, for watering down the treaty, which initially also wanted to take charge of nation state’s defences.

Stars in the dark skies at Gisburn Forest.

Days Out: Hidden Horizons, North Yorkshire