Monday, May 01, 2006


Blair will find Local Government elections can make for an even worse week

Local elections now head the list of events I'm interested in. Not just because of the last-minute pile of Labour Party leaflets I've been asked to deliver-at least I don't have to defend the government on the doorstep like some fellow party activists-but because they threaten to dig even the deeper the political hole which Tony Blair occupies. The reasons why he is in the hole are depressing and several:

1. The incompetence of Charles Clarke in neglecting to act on deporting foreign criminals despite being warned of the problem. Blair-keen to retain a truly Blairite Cabinet ally- has now qualified his support by saying his retention depends on what happens i.e. on how embarrassing the subsequent crimes of the 'deportees' prove to be. Clarke must find it hard to sleep easily right now.

2. The absurdity of his Deputy, John Prescott. Alright, affairs at work are part of life, we shouldn't rush to moral judgement and he didn't put the nation's security at risk or even say disloyal things about his colleagues, but he behaved with singular lack of grace and in a fashion which has rightly made him the nation's number one laughing stock- probably for quite a while. And if you think it's all over check out Guido. Come back David Mellor, all is now forgiven.

3. The deficit in NHS spending boggles the mind in view of the huge cascade of money poured into it since 2002. Voters must think it's either appaling financial control, ancient structures or too many administrators. Moreover, why are so many doctors and nurses being angry with the source of such beneficent largesse?

4.Education: In 1997 Labour promised primary school classes would not be bigger than 30- recent figures suggest this figure is now being breached regularly.

And there are other political spades which have thrown yet more soil out of the deepening hole, like the mess over legal aid, rapidly rising levels of council tax and the constant, ongoing crises in Afghanistan and Iraq. Only the relative strength of the economy and the possibility of a new settlement in Northern Ireland provide any solace to the beleagured Blair and, sadly, Ulster has always been a bore to voters who have also come to accept low inflation growth as a normal-taken-as-read constant instead of the rare act of longterm political brilliance it actually is.

Maybe the polls are not as bad as they might be? Sorry, Tony, they are. Yougov in the Sunday Times put Labour three points behind Conservatives at 32; ICM had the same gap but with smaller shares at 27% Labour and 29% Tories; while a MoS survey had the latter on 35% and Labour on a disastrous 26%. Moreover 57% agreed with the statement that Labour was 'sleazy and incompetent'; 56% thought the foreign criminals gaffe was 'very damaging'; and 67% thought the same about NHS staff layoffs. Redcived wisdom seems to be that, if in defending some 1750 council seats on Thursday, Labour lose 2-300, then the screw will tighten on Blair possibly to the point of the process leading to his demise.

Please add reasons 5 and 6 Skipper

5. Sleazy financial dealings

Arranging loans for peerages in secrecy behind the backs of his own party colleagues.

6. Illegal invasion of Iraq

Based on completely groundless claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction - plus doctored dossiers claiming they were only 45 minutes away.
Quite happy to do so. Unfortunately short posts cannot do justice to the recent and not so recent shortcomings of New Labour which seems to be exhausted and corrupted by power. But if not them, then who?
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