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As British politics relocates from the Hutton inquiry to the party conference halls it is dominated by two “truths”: New Labour is in turmoil, and New Labour will win the next election. Blair has alienated the left over public service reform, the right over Europe and the so-called chattering classes over Iraq; he is even said to have lost the trust of the wider electorate. None of this, yet, seems to count for much outside the Westminster hothouse. Tory weakness is one reason. The new low-participation political culture, making opposition seem factional and shallow, may be another. And commentators forget…

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