True, elections are supposed to be decided on local issues, but i am surprised that Blair's role as Bush's most loyal supporter hasn't warranted mention in this (admittedly rather general) article. It will be interesting to see if some non-marginal party brings up foreign affairs as this campaign develops. Were Blair to lose (most of the polls cited say he has a small lead at this point), there could be repercussions on this side of the pond.
Which inspired the following long reply that deserves to get a couple more readers by being posted here witha few amplifications.
Umm yes and no. Iraq is a factor but only in that it is part of the evidence for "Blair is a lying hypocrite". While that is true it may not affect anything. Blair may win simply because of the utter unelectability of anyone else.
Let me give a personal run down of the various groups hoping to get into parliament this year.
The Lib dems are a bunch of trusting gullible morons that, in the event that they got in to government, would sell the country to whatever transnational institution offered them the most "warm fuzzy" feelings. Evidence so far shows that most people in Britain don't actually like that belief and only voted Lib Dem as a protest against the other two parties - not that there are no true Lib Dem supporters, there are and I prefer to call them the woolly head brigade as a tribute to both their preferred dress and their capability to connect cause with effect.
This year we have a bunch of other protest parties that can split the protest vote. As well as the Greens (who are similar in most respects to the Lib dems but slightly keener on furry animals, wind power etc.) we have, on the left, RESPECT which is a bunch of D(h)im socialists who believe that there is no god but Marx and Allah is his profit or something like that and anyway it was all the fault of the Jews - this latter belief is usually the domain of the far right loonies but as this (long) article shows the far left have recently become infected with it (article thanks to Harry's Place). On the other side the protest party is UKIP - the UK Independance Party - and its various splinters and factions including the Veri Tanned partyVeritas. UKIP is mostly about getting out from the grasp of Brussels and is pretty much the diametric opposite of the Lib Dems. In many ways it is rational and proposes the sensible libertarian small government sorts of ideas that the tories (see below) have decided to avoid mentioning out of fear of being called "callous". Unfortunately it has sufficient eccentricities or foibles to make it hard to take seriously.
The Conservatives are mostly rational but seem plagued with a barely semi-competent and opportunistic leader who fails to inspire any trust what so ever. They have also dropped any serious attempt to reign in the UK public / government-dependant sector because they are scared that Labour will conjure up the ghost of evil services slashing Margaret Thatcher to scare the electorate. Indeed the proud party of Margaret Thatcher has fissured in ways that should be a major warning to the US republicans and the result is not pretty. Perhaps worse for the Tories, Blair has stolen most of their better policies meaning that in order to differentiate themselves they have to propose and discuss loopier policies.
There are of course the various regional parties - the Scotch and Welsh nationalists and the various Irish parties. In the grand scheme of things it seems unlikely that any of them will pick up enough votes to be important although it could be that the various forms of Ulster Unionists (Protestants) could pick up enough votes to be key to a commons majority and therefore be able to limit any backsliding with regard to Sinn Fein [In its own right it will also be interestng to see whether Sinn Fein is still popular in the Catholic community after the recnt criminal revelations].
This leaves New Labour. New Labour has the Blairites who seem to be basically of "trust me I'm from the government and the government can fix everything" and the Brownites who seem to believe that all money belogs to the government and they are very generous in letting you have some of it back. Despite the major hits to Blair's credibility and the evident less than sparkling success of Brown's attempts to throw large sums of government money at education and the health-service, not to mention employing an army of bureaucrats to administer said funds, verify that it is spent correctly and make sure that no ones tender human rights are violated by insensitive government agencies* the Labour party still exudes slightly more competence than anyone else, despite its fissures and despite the fact that every man and his dog person and his domesticated pet of choice can see them spinning and otherwise abusing the truth.
In the end I suspect that Blair will be the 2000s version of Harold Wilson getting his party elected and then buggering off leaving Brown and co to screw up Britain enough that at the next election a new Margaret Thatcher shows up and fixes things. In my heart of hearts I hope UKIP gets enough votes that they can be the balance of power in a hung parliament - perhaps in conjunction with some Ulster Unionists - but realistically I fear that UKIP will tend to draw more support from the Tories and thus will only help to ensure Blair remains in office. The ideal result IMO would be for the Tory party to form the next government with (required) support from UKIP, Veritanned et al.but I'm doubtful that this will occur.
Finally a word on election fraud. You chaps in America simply don't understand how to run a good fraud. It takes the moral slipperiness of New Labour combined with ahh immigrant determination to really grease the wheels and make an election that would warm the hearts of tyrants from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe. Under New Labour the Mother of Parliaments appears to be using postal ballots to return to the 18th century and rotten buroughs.
*offer not valid to straight white males with an education, a job and and a house.