Thirty-nine million British voters are eligible to vote today in elections outside of the London area. They will be the biggest test of popular opinion in this Parliamentary session. Voters will elect a new Government for Scotland (where Labour's fifty year dominance is threatened), a new Assembly for Wales (where a grand coalition of opposition parties may emerge victorious) and across English local government (where Labour may fall back to twenty year low levels of representation). It will also be Tony Blair's last set of elections. The man who has been Labour's most successful ever leader is set to resign next week, almost exactly ten years after becoming Prime Minister, on the back of one of his party's worst ever set of results. The Iraq war, declining disposable incomes and a seemingly relentless rise in anti-social behaviour have all contributed to his weakness. Many American conservatives adore Tony Blair for his resolute support for George W Bush but he is very unpopular with British conservatives who have watched this Clintonian spinner tinker disastrously with the Constitution and impose Britain's biggest ever tax burden.
Nile Gardiner of the Washington-based Thatcher Center writes about the Queen's forthcoming state visit to the USA today on the Heritage Foundation's website. In this context he looks at the looming threats to the relationship between Britain and America. He highlights anti-Americanism within the UK electorate, failures of imagination in US public diplomacy and Britain's loss of powers to the EU.
It is debateable whether Blair's departure from Downing Street will be good or bad for the Special Relationship. In so many ways Mr Blair has been a staunch defender of the shared interests of our two nations but little more than a quarter of British voters now trust him. His popularity has declined ever since the Iraq war and his low standing prevents him from preparing the British people for future struggles in the war on terror.
Speculation in tonight's London Evening Standard is that he might even resign as a Member of Parliament before the next General Election. Every expectation in Britain is that he will spend much of his future on the American side of the Atlantic - enjoying the lucrative lecture circuit.
If you wish to follow tonight's UK election results there will be live blogging on ConservativeHome, this site's sister blog, from 10pm UK time (5pm EST).