Monday, March 20, 2006

Time's Up

Matthew Parris in the Times (via Jamie) is worth reading in full. A snippet:
No more excuses. Just hand in your homework and go, Prime Minister
The genius Mr Blair showed this week in extricating himself from this latest corner was breathtaking. If a burglar, caught red-handed, should by effrontery and oratory make from the dock so stirring a call for the fundamental reform of the Theft Acts that the whole court were distracted from the charge and persuaded to “move on" ... then the tour de force would hardly be more impressive.
Close colleagues and Labour MPs mostly know already what he is. Forget the bleatings of the hard Left, the Tories and the likes of me: it is Tony Blair’s political allies who should now act. They must accept that he is no longer an asset to the new Labour cause and that, if they do not cut him loose soon, he may drag a whole brave political project down with him. There is not much time to lose.
And today's Guardian editorial:
Nine years is long enough
The departure must be timely. There is no excuse for foot-dragging, no excuse for trading on the patience of his party, the country or his successor. Carrying on simply because he can will begin to look self-indulgent. Better reasons are needed if the transition is to be postponed.

It is increasingly hard to think what these might be. Adrift in Iraq, opposed by much of his own party on education reform at home, caught in a net of soft loans which looks worse by the hour (and yesterday led even John Prescott to admit he was unhappy), Mr Blair risks becoming a leader without purpose beyond power: accident-prone and asking for trouble.
He should go this year. Mr Brown's last budget speech as chancellor this week should be followed this autumn by his first conference speech as prime minister.
Two views of Blair. One conclusion.

Parris, an ex-Tory MP writing in the Times, gets Blair exactly right.

The Guardian's rather generous suggestion that "Mr Blair risks becoming a leader without purpose beyond power" is consistent with a newpaper which, despite the criticisms it does air, has backed Blair pretty consistently over the years.

Indeed, naively so. In the Observer general election leader, they said:
If there was one general overarching change we would demand from Labour in the parliament to come it is that it should better respect the visible and invisible lines of the separation of powers in British government: the centrality of parliament, the importance of cabinet, the independence of the judges, the indispensable role of independent scrutiny and audit.
This, while urging people to return to power the man who's government is trying to introduce this monster. The centrality of parliament, far from being better respected, is to be largely abolished. The only seperation of powers being promoted by this government is the seperation of parliament from it's power to counter-balance the ever increasing power of the executive.

It's hardly surprising to most people though. A leopard cannot change it's spots. No amount of woolly headed optimism from Guardian HQ will change that fact.

(In fairness to the Guardian, it's probably fair to say that they hoped Blair would leave sooner rather than later after the election. The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, unfortunately, will not leave with him, when he goes. The opposition, and Labour MPs who value democracy, really need to stop this one.)

Anyway, the point is that you could hardly argue that Matthew Paris and the Guardian editorial team are singing from the same hymn sheet. They are, however, singing the same song.

So long Tony Blair. You won't be missed.

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