Socialist Hugo Chavez turned the tables dramatically on international right-wing propaganda today to power his way to victory and retain his presidency in the Venezuelan elections.
Fireworks exploded over the capital Caracas and supporters jumped for joy as Mr Chavez grabbed 54 per cent of a historic 80 per cent turnout for a fourth term after almost 14 years in office.
As the president began another six-year term, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey welcomed the result as a "clear endorsement" of Mr Chavez's "progressive social policies."
The 58-year-old has been carrying out a self-styled socialist revolution - including building up a welfare state.
This is in sharp contrast to the Westminster government's vicious hatchet job where Chancellor George Osborne has just announced billions worth of more cuts to benefits.
Mr McCluskey congratulated the Venezuelan people on "holding another free and fair election."
He added: "Once again Venezuela has shown why former US president Jimmy Carter has said it has the best election process in the world.
"There should be no support from our government to those extremist movements in Venezuela calling for the results to be rejected.
"Those people refusing to accept the views of the Venezuelan majority are the very same people who backed the coup against Hugo Chavez in 2002. They are certainly not democrats."
He said: "Venezuela shows governments that put the needs of ordinary working people first can expect strong support at the ballot box.
"Rather than making ordinary people bear the brunt of an economic crisis, governments in Europe might want to learn the obvious lessons from Venezuela."
Mr McCluskey was a signatory to a letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague, along with MPs and leading figures from civil society, urging the British government to respect Venezuela's democratic processes.
His victory confirms Mr Chavez as one of Latin America's most commanding political figures. He left rival Henrique Capriles trailing at 45 per cent.
He recently underwent three cancer surgeries. His supporters were chanting: "Chavez, the people are with you."
On the cards could now be nationalisation plans for the banking, food and health industries. After his landslide win in 2006 he ordered takeovers in the telecoms, electricity and oil sectors.
Ahead of the elections the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign published an open letter from a group of leading British academics calling on sections of the media to end "misrepresentation" about polls in Venezuela.
They were concerned much of the reporting of the polls was just reflecting the spin coming from the right-wing candidates' camp that the race was tight.
Venezuela Solidarity Campaign co-ordinator Matt Willgress said: "Despite the negative media onslaught against President Chavez's electoral prospects he won a very convincing victory of nearly two million votes over his right-wing rival.
"This represents a fantastic further step forward for democracy and inclusion in Venezuela. It also represents a robust victory for those pursuing an agenda of social progress across Latin America.
"We should demand an end to US hostility and that Venezuelans be left free to determine their own destiny."
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