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Making history: Labour's 3rd term: WAR COST 1M VOTES; Protesters turned backs on Blair because of Iraq.

Byline: By ROSA PRINCE Political Correspondent

LABOUR'S missing 1.1million voters punished the Government for ignoring their demand not to invade Iraq, anti-war campaigners claimed last night.

The party polled 9.6million votes - down six per cent on 2001 when 10.7million people put their cross in Labour's box.

The 1.1million difference mirrors the number of anti-war marchers who protested in London before the war.

At the time, Labour ignored the vast turn-out - an astonishing one in 60 Britons. Many Labour MPs condemned the decision.

Frustrated protesters said there seemed little they could do to force Mr Blair and his ministers to abide by their wishes. Until Thursday.

Forced to bide their time, they vented their frustration by voting for Liberal Democrat, Respect and Independent candidates in a tidal wave of individual acts of revenge.

Andrew Burgin, of the Stop the War Coalition, said: "This was pay-back time.

"We are calling this the Khaki Election because so many people didn't vote Labour because of the war who normally would have voted Labour.

"Many of those missing Labour voters were among those who marched on the anti-war demo and were angry that their views were ignored by Blair.

"After this election, Blair will never again be able to ignore the views of the people and go to war against their wishes.

"Even more important than whether or not you opposed the war was the fact that the Government took part in a military invasion which was opposed by the vast majority of the British public, which is a serious breach of democracy.

"People felt genuinely aggrieved that their opinions were so flagrantly ignored."

The strength of feeling against the war was forced home to Mr Blair on polling night when Reg Keys stood against him in his constituency of Sedgefield. In one of the lowest moments of the election for the Prime Minister, he listened as Mr Keys, whose soldier son Tom, 20, was killed in Iraq, denounced him in his post-poll address and demanded an apology for the decision to go to war.

Yesterday, Mr Keys said he was satisfied with his showing at the election after polling 4,252 votes - and even more pleased at telling the PM what he thought of him.

He said: "I needed to say those words and turn around and look Mr Blair in the eye."

The large Muslim population in the East London seat of Bethnal Green and Bow showed exactly what they thought of the Government.

They rejected Blair babe Oona King for former Labour MP George Galloway, who stood for the anti-war Respect party. It was an astonishing result in a seat Mrs King had held in 2001 with a 10,057 majority.

Mr Galloway, who is certain to be a thorn in the Government's side in the next Parliament, said in his acceptance speech: "This defeat is for Iraq." Condemning Mr Blair, he added: "All the people you have killed, all the lies you have told have come back to haunt you."

He predicted Gordon Brown would soon be PM, describing him as "grumpy old man" or "Blair without the laughs".

The biggest winners of the anti-war vote were the Liberal Democrats, who benefited from the mass defection of thousands of Labour voters.

A humble Mr Blair acknowledged many voters had registered their protest over Iraq and vowed to listen to the lessons of the election.

CAPTION(S):

JOY: Galloway celebrates yesterday; STERN: Newly re-elected Tony Blair listens to Independent candidate Reg Keys whose son, a Royal Military Policeman, was killed in Iraq
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 7, 2005
Words:594
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