Tuesday, August 02, 2005

There is a question that has been taxing me a lot lately.

Is Tony Blair really going to stand down 'at the next election' as he promised?

Clearly he has been on a political 'high' since May 5th, even the catastrophic bombing in London has proved him right about the threat to us from extreme religious groups, a danger that some of us were frankly beginning to doubt before the election.

He is clearly enjoying the job and shows no signs of really wanting to stand down - and lets face it he is young enough to carry on for years yet.

And who gains if he goes sooner? Certainly not most of the cabinet, most of whom will lose out badly if Gordon gets the leadership on a silver plate. And not just because as 'Tony's men' they may lose power and status under a Gordon premiership but also because, as I have always pointed out, everyone in politics secretly wants to be Prime Minister.

If Gordon takes over the leadership the ambitions of all the other cabinet members is crushed, Brown is only in his early 50's and cute observers know that the New Labour oligarchy is beginning to wane so time is running out for those senior older dogs who really fancy being 'top dog'.

Blair has continually led his Chancellor on a merry dance over the 'accession' and I predict that the drama is going to enter a new phase very soon.

So here is one prediction. Boosted by his own 'falklands factor' (the war on Terror) and with the economy on the slide Tony Blair will sideways move his chancellor in his first big cabinet reshuffle possibly next spring.

He will risk the fall-out in the clear knowledge that his cabinet colleagues, the majority of the parliamentary party and, for once, the majority of public opinion will be on his side. Although I suspect that Gordon might prefer the damage of a sideways move in preference to being in charge at the Treasury as the economy falls apart.

In my view Tony Blair is the sole reason Labour won power and held on to power - in spite of our (somewhat tasteless) attempts to discredit him in the election campaign the public voted to keep him in No10 and they will carry on doing so until we Conservatives come up with an alternative Prime Minister.


Anonymous said...

Be quiet

Anonymous said...

Blair aides have said today that he is going to stand down as an MP as well as Prime Minister at the next election.

Are you saying that they are lying?

Marcus Wood said...

Er, not neccessarily.

Actually the publicity and news about all this in the last couple of days makes my thesis look a bit unlikelier, but Blair has got where he is by doing the unexpected!

Anonymous said...

I think that Blair was a big reason for Labour winning in 1997, but the reason they won again in 2001 was because the country decided to give them a bit longer. They won in 2005 because the country looked around and thought 'blimey, we don't like this bunch of clowns but they are better than anything else on offer' - the Conservative campaign varried between disgrace and shambles, and the Lib-Dem one never really got going. It says something abotu the state of British politics that the current governement only retained power because they were the least bad option.

Marcus Wood said...


I can't help but agree with much of what you say but maybe I think you are a bit harsh on our campaign. I don't think the campaign itself was the problem I think there wasn't much of an appetite for Howard to be in 10 Downing Street.

We were negative, relying a lot on a 'whinge list' of things at fault with Britain and with Labour but in opposition, and especially when you are behind in the polls, you have little choice.

Likewise the Government have so little to crow about the temptation to simple slag us off was overpowering.

Yes, negative campaigns turn people off the Government and in the meantime it didn't turn them 'on' to us (meaning low turnout) but that is a good base to build on.

Provided we make a good choice of leader (here's hoping...) by next time we will have an inspirational campaign lead by an alternative Prime Minister which will make for a very different and much more positive contest.

Anonymous said...

Well the Conservative Party must make the right choice of leader this time - the botched election of IDS really set the party back a long way.
My problem with the Conservative campaign was that it was very much 'anti-', as you say. There were very few positive messages, and calling the Prime Minister a liar, whilst arguably entirely correct, didn't help. I also had a big problem with the rhetoric on immigration and asylum, which bordered on xenophobic in my opinion (and I know that it did put off a lot of potential Conservative voters - and seeing as how the party's vote actually went nowhere you have to wonder whether it actually did much good). It is that part that I would label a disgrace.
As I say, the current government isn't a very good one at all, but the fact that they are still there says everything about the opposition parties.
Get it right this time! Please!

Marcus Wood said...

I agree about the immigration in part, actually there were some leaflets printed which we felt uneasy about giving out. However the initial point 'it's not racist to limit immigration' went down very well - it's the fact that we kept coming back to it that pushed it into dodgy territory, IMO.

It was the same as the 'save the £' in 2001, a populist slogan that most people agreed with but sadly not enough to influence their voting decision.

We have to learn that just because you say things that lots of people agree with does not mean they want you as their next Government.

Anonymous said...

Even the 'its not racist to limit immigration' slogan made me uneasy because it seemed to hint at a sort of nudge nudge, wink wink message. But yes, banging on about it was both tiresome and counterproductive - and as I say, I know people who didn't vote Conservative becuase of the focus on immigration. It also didn't help when you get people like Bob Spink coming out with "what part of 'send them back' don't you understand Mister Blair". It just made me shudder.
I also agree with you about the save the £ campaign in 2001 - again, tedious and boring.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading this thread and I don't agree that the immigration line was a bad thing for the Tories. I don't vote Tory normally but I was tempted to this time because i thought they are the only ones who are prepared to discuss what we all know, which is that we are running out of space for ever more immigrants and that too many of the ones we have don't seem to want to settle in properly.

Mind you having said that I didn't vote conservative in the end because where I live it wouldn't have made any difference.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with that comment - most of those I know who are socially dissafected are young white males born in the UK. Most people from outside of these shores want to integrate and 'prove their worth' and pay taxes but the law doesn't allow them too.
The other thing is that people come to this country for economic reasons because they see the economy doing well - if we want to cut the number of economic migrants it is simple: wreck the economy and they will go somewhere else.
As regards asylum and refugees (not the same thing despite attempts by the Mail and Express to conflate the two), people come here because they know us to be a kind, welcoming and tolerant people.