Saturday, September 09, 2006

Blair Clings On: for the moment

It has been a rather hectic political week, to say the least. Beginning with Blair’s article in The Times announcing he would not set a resignation date we have seen, inter alia: the leaking of the memo detailing the truly astonishing proposal for Blair’s vainglorious “farewell tour”; the “revolt of the Blairite lickspittles” (Chris Bryant, Sion Simon, et al) and the resignation of Tom Watson and a bunch of Blairite PPS’s (followed by Blair’s petulant response saying he would have sacked Watson anyway); all against the background of the open warfare between Blairites and Brownites. Now a reluctant Blair has conceded that he will resign before next year’s conference season; and Charles Clarke has attacked Brown and talked-up Milburn as a leadership candidate (and someone – probably John Reid – told Nick Robinson that Brown would make a “fucking awful” PM). Today Blair says that Labour will lose the next election unless the in-fighting stops (as if it had nothing whatever to do with him, although it is reported that Byers’s “out-riding” on inheritance tax followed “orders from on high”). Brown is to give an interview to Andrew Marr tomorrow morning and it will be interesting to see if Brown says that next May is soon enough. If he does it will not end the war. The uber-Blairites will be looking for a challenger to Brown (Milburn? Reid? Johnson?), and will do whatever they can to undermine Brown. They have nothing to lose, since they will secure no preferment under Brown (I doubt if Bryant and Simon will be rewarded for their disloyalty to Blair. Brown is likely to think that if they can betray one patron, they can betray another). I think Blair will not endorse Brown as his successor: he will say it is up to the party to chose, and will opt for public agnosticism, while his troops organise against Brown. Everyone knows that the electorate dislikes divided parties, and that Labour will be punished for this at he polls. The most astute comment was Denis Healey’s: that Labour’s civil war is (for him) depressing because it involves no great issue of principle. This is absolutely correct: it is not left versus right, and there is no great ideological rift between the rival camps, it is chiefly about personal hatred, ambition, and vanity. The feeling I get from the people “on the Clapham Omnibus” that I talk to is that (unlike us politaholics) they are fed-up with the whole thing and think that “there are more important things going on the world”. It did cross my mind that Blair might surprise us all and announce in Manchester in a few weeks time that he going immediately (or as soon as a new Leader is elected): but on reflection I think not. He is too arrogant, has too careless a regard for the party’s future (as distinct from his own reputation), and nothing would please him more than shafting Brown one more time. There could be a Cabinet revolt: but surely the opportunity for that was this week?

3 Comments:

Blogger Robert Jackman said...

hey - interesting comment. I wouldn't say I agree with Dennis Healy. There are isuses of principle within the Labour rift, unfortunately it is the rivalries and vanities which the media concentrate on.
Labour must change their approach - trust in New Labour is plummeting but inequality and need for social justice action is rising.
Have a read of my blog and leave a comment if you would
:)

5:48 pm  
Blogger Robert Jackman said...

Thanks for the comment, I'll put a link to your blog on mine - it seems a really interesting read.
Brown can opt for a foreign policy less supine towards Bush without too many problems - an aliance with a President who will only have1 and a half years left in power isn't too desirable.
I originally found your blog through Google Blog Search, but my blog doesn't seem to come up on it. Do you know how I can change that?
Thanks very much

9:19 am  
Blogger politaholic said...

Thanks for that Robert. I have just looked for your blog on Google Blog Search and I didn't have any trouble finding it (type in Robert Jackman and up it comes!). I have also inserted a link to your blog on mine, but it doesn't seem to have taken immediately. I'll fix it if it doesn't appear in a day or so.

11:19 am  

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