Saturday, April 08, 2006

Blair: the Endgame

Andrew Rawnsley in last Sunday's Observer suggests that uber-Blairites are considering persuading Blair to set a late date for his departure (the autumn of 2008 or early 2009) thus inviting the Brownites to do their worst. David Clark in the Guardian (7/4/06) says that some Blairite fanatics are "flirting openly with the idea that it might be better for Labour to lose the next election under Brown...". My own view is that it is obvious that Blair does not want Brown to succeed him, and if he cannot stop Brown, he will try to delay the succession. When the time comes there will be a challenge to Brown, probably by Milburn; and once Milburn throws his hat into the ring others will follow. My guess is that Brown will win although a good outside bet is the "shapeshifter" Peter Hain (if there is a mood to return to Labour values after Blair). The contest will be sooner rather than later: Blair setting a late date for departure will simply hasten an early challenge. According to Guido Fawkes' rather right-wing but excellent - and entertaining - blog (one has to be philosophical about these things) Glenda Jackson could be a "stalking horse" as early as the next party conference. My guess is that faced with a stalking-horse (and realising that the game is up) Blair might go; and I think he could easily declare his support for Milburn (having discovered some issue over which to break with Brown). If all of this so damages the Labour Party that it loses the next election I don't thnk this would disturb Blair overmuch. The left has often described the Blair faction as "hijackers". Well, its not that unusual for someone who has hijacked a car to leave it a burning wreck. (It would also appeal to Blair's apalling vanity if Labour, having won elections with him as Leader, then lost one under Brown). As for his "legacy": I can't see why it should worry Blair too much if Cameron became Prime Minister, especially since Cameron so clearly models himself on Blair. The odd thing is that - Polly Toynbee nothwithstanding - there is no great idelogical difference between Brown (the champion of PFI's and "flexible labour markets") and Blair. It is all about ego and ambition. Anyway here's the bottom line: I think Blair will be gone before the end of the year.


Blogger skipper said...

Good post and agree with most of it. But don't think Blair, for all his faults, would drag the party down in flames with him. Remember the public school background? Play the game? And what would happen to his 'legacy' if the party was shredded and Dave installed? I don't see Blair doing this but he would go if enough PLP members made it clear they wanted him to go.

8:19 pm  
Blogger skipper said...

Just reread your post and do not agree Blair will be gone by end of year; it was your later timescale I agreed with. Not that it matters what we say to be honest, but it is a fun game to play just at present.

8:21 pm  
Blogger politaholic said...

Thanks for that Skipper. You are, I think, the first to post a comment on my blog (only been going since March!). I agree we are all playing a guessing game - before the end of the year is just my guess. I wouldn't wager more than I could afford to lose on it. No one really knows how the endgame will play out - it depends on the mood of the PLP, the opinion polls, and Blair himself. I have no direct experence of public school playgrounds myself, but my reading of Blair is that his relaionship to the Labour Party is contingent, and he has always proved capable of combining high-minded moralising with mendacity and low skullduggery.

7:43 am  

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