Sunday, October 02, 2005


Blair and Brown squabbling over leadership

The most memorable moment from Labour’s Party Conference will be the ‘PR disaster’ when the 82 year old delegate Walter Wolfgang was forced out the conference hall for heckling the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw. The Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany had the temerity to say ‘nonsense’ when Jack was defending the Iraq War. Laughably they had to use bouncers to throw him and another guy who complained and then Walter was threatened wit prosecution under the Prevention of Terrorism Act when he attempted to go back in.
Is this the new Britain we are going to be faced under the so-called ‘War of Terror’? It seems Orwell was 21 years out when he wrote 1984. Criticism is not to be tolerated in Blair’s Britain. We have been given our enemy and our script – and we mustn’t go off message otherwise we become the terrorist. All Blair’s reassurances that politicians and the police will not abuse these new terror laws have already proven to be worthless.

Meanwhile the charisma-lite Chancellor, Gordon Brown was preening his lacklustre feathers and still desperate to take Tony’s job. Blair has already said that he will not seek re-election but has promised that he will serve a full-term. Although I’m sure he and Cherie will try to hang in there at no.10 for at least 2 years if there’s isn’t a coup but also I’m sure that even Blair will not keep this promise and will hand over the reins to Brown before his full term is up.

Blair has now become the lame-duck Prime Minister, similar to John Major who he replaced in 1997. Major was hobbling throughout his term not because he volunteered he would go at the next election but because his parliamentary support was so weak it just needed a slight push from the electorate to get rid of him. In 1997 that push turned into a landslide. Whereas despite Blair’s dictatorial leadership and blunders in Iraq, the official opposition under the Tories have been a shambles. Blair is a lame-duck because now he announced he is going – then it will be a continual tussle between him and Brown to exactly when this will be. Meanwhile Blair’s colleagues will slowly transfer their allegiance to Brown.

Blair could feasibly win a fourth election but he knows his own party is sick of him for turning his back on most of the values they hold dear. He was the Trojan horse that was to get Labour out of the wilderness but unfortunately the wooden PM didn’t keep to deal he allegedly struck at the Islington restaurant, Granita in 1994. No one seems to knows what was struck but one version has it that Blair agree to hand over the PM job after 1 term if Brown didn’t run against him in the leadership contest. Looks like Blair played Brown for a sucker and Brown has been in a sulk for many years.

These background deals of yesteryear and planned handovers shows how much contempt Blair and Brown have towards the electorate. Although we elect our MP locally which when totalled up around the country decides which party wins, the person who leads the country makes a massive difference. Undoubtedly Brown policies would be different to Blair if he ran the country and yet we have no say in the matter. If a party changes leaders and if that means a change in Prime Minister then it should go into a General Election. It is bad enough that the Prime Minister gets to choose when to hold the General Election within 5 years.

Brown has plenty to be proud about as Chancellor. Overall the economy over the last 8 years has performed pretty well compared to a lot his predecessors. Although at the moment it looks like the economy may be heading for some choppy water. Maybe this is why Gordon is so keen to bale out and land the PM job? There is nothing wrong with being ambitious but Brown takes it to levels where he seems to be activate undermining Blair. As much as some of us might dislike Blair’s policies – he was the one who ran again as PM and Labour’s manifesto can be seen as very Blairite. This is what the electorate voted for.

Unfortunately Labour has a poor record in keeping to it’s manifesto promises as it is. They said they would not introduce student tuition top-up fees and they would hold a referendum on Proportional Representation. Yet they lied on both. So with a change in leader – I’m sure Brown would quite happily pick and choose which manifesto promises suited him. Blair is primarily concerned about his legacy but he will chiefly be remember for reforming Labour to such an extent that he got them elected and for making a hash out of the Iraq War. There was something pathetic about the way it was Blair himself that had to remind his party that he was the only Labour leader to win three consecutive elections whilst all around him his colleagues are counting the days until his dictatorship falls.

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