Friday, August 04, 2006


Blair Might Find He's Punished at Party Conference

Michael Brown's piece today in which he claims 'uncanny parallels' between Balir now and Thatcher in her last weeks is a curate's egg of an article. There was crisis in Middle East, there was even a Foreign Secretary demoted to Leader of the House getting critical on a crucial aspect of foreign policy. that's it. Attempts to drag in forthcoming reform of local government finance and rising interest rates fail to convince the parallel is all that close and Brown himself admits the biggest difference: Blair is down by his own word to go in about a year's time or very shortly afterwards while Maggie was convinced she could 'go on and on.'

Brown's article however, accurately identifies the grievances held by Labour MPs, especially over the current Lebanon War and Blair's insistence on hugging a line identical to that of the demon Bush as well as the volcanic frustrations of Labour activists on the ground. He suggests, interestingly, that Jack Straw, unfairly sacked from a job at which he excelled- that similarity with Geoffrey Howe is spot on- might replace Prescott as 'king-maker' post Blair and become Deputy Leader himself.

Brown says that every Prime Minister 'runs out of road' and this is of course true, but Blair has already more or less defined the length of road he intends to motor down before, no doubt, burnishing his legacy with mega money making. He correctly says that self preservation leads MPs and Cabinets to 'remove their leaders when they become an embarrassment', adding that Labour's 'cumbersome' machinery for replacement has so far protected Blair. 'But the mood this summer', he claims, 'looks set to change'; he predicts Blair will go before Christmas. This might prove to be prescient but I flag up a slightly more apocalyptic scenario: activists might have become so enraged with their errant leader, who has been deaf and blind to their concerns, that they exploit the conference- vehicle as it is for any planned replacement- not just to remove Blair, but to punish him for his many transgressions.

Thanks for an interesting article as always---I would however question whether Jack Straw"excelled "as Foreign secretary when he was supporting Blair so wholeheartedly over Iraq ----he may have warned Blair a couple of times of dangers he personally perceived but this came out much later ---one only had to watch him at PMQ sitting behind the prime minister nodding energetically (if somewhat myopically)at every sentence the PM uttered----this nodding incidentally stopped abruptly when he was made leader of the House.
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