Monday, June 19, 2006

 

Every Day Blair Remains is a Gift to Cameron


This is rather a unflattering image of our Prime Minister, but it does seem to describe his attitude towards the rest of us, especially members of the party which put him where he is. Like so many Labour party members I'm aware of my schizoid attitude to Tony Blair. He it was who cast out the awful discredited Conservatives after a painful 18 years in the wilderness. He it was who offered so much in those early years: different style, different policies, a species of hope we perhaps had never known. The disillusion has been desperately painful. I felt he should have resigned once Iraq went pear-shaped early on and certainly once Hutton and Butler revealed Number 10's fingerprints on dossiers which had clearly been 'sexed up'. But he stayed and tried to draw the sting of his critics by saying he'd not contest in 2009. Whilst he ought to have gone then, I came to realise that he wouldn't go until the very last minute. And it seems this is still the case; indeed with knobs on as the picture suggests.

But he must now know that the game is up and that continuation in power is blighting the prospects of his successor, whoever that person may be. Jackie Ashley reflects on the situation today and you can feel something of her despair, shared as it is by the majority of party members. The Compass poll of party members taken for last Saturday's conference revealed that 71 per cent wanted him to go before September 2007 with over a third wanting him to go within the next three months. Why? Over half identified the Iraq invasion as the biggest mistake made by the government. But so far Blair ignores negative feedback totally; as Michael Meacher commented at the conference: 'Even when the Government does consult, it gives no indication whatsoever that it listens to what is said or modifies its policies.'

Jackie Ashley thinks that since the demise of Prezza, there are few people now available to knock on Tony's door with the proverbial revolver and bottle of whisky, though Neil Kinnock gets a possible mention. More persuasive might be those MPs with slim majorities who are now agonising over their chances; or maybe those young ministers who are blanching at the far from impossible idea- mooted by the Brownite MP, Michael Wills- that Labour will lose the next election and be out of power for 15 years. For the sake of the party and all the hope it still stands for, he should go as soon as possible.

Comments:
Out of power for 15 years, not to mention tories in for 15 years scares me to death.
 
Did Wills pluck the 15-year figure out of thin air, or was there a thought process behind it?
 
Sam
Presumably because he thinks Labour will be out of office for at least three terms as it was after 1979 and as Tories have been since 1997. I assume it's the perceived depth of disillusion which is the factor influencing him.
 
Okay, but since the period between general elections is usually four years, I make that 12 years all told. Anyway, I was implying that Wills is banding these figures about in order to exacerbate the media storm behind the Blair departure (or lack of). Wills is doing the party no favours, the country no favours, and Gordon Brown no favours.
 
Sam
Actually I think 15 years in the wilderness is quite a believable period. Since 1979 we've had four election victories adding up to 18 years of Conservative rule and three election victories giving nine years of Labour. Given the depths to which Labour is now sinking, we might have to sweat out a long period before being trusted again.
 
Unless nothing changes, 15 years is certainly possible, even though it'd be unlikely that many Tory governments over that period would be majority ones.

That things *probably* will change doesn't make that point any less relevant.
 
For an illustration of voter apathy, one only needs to see the results of the last local government election here in South Tyneside, one of the strongest areas of Labour support in the U.K. The successful Labour candidates in May were elected by only 16% of the registered electorate, they were only elected because they were opposed by so many differing parties, in a two horse race they would have lost. This position will take some time to recover and I can feel David Miliband's vote eroding as I write.
 
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