Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Legacy of Sophistry

OK, here's a serious point concerning Blair's statement. I noticed this earlier but thought it was just me being overly cynical. Having thought about it, and having read Guido express similar thoughts, I'm now not so sure.

The money quote from the statement:
"The next party conference in a couple of weeks will be my last party conference as party leader."
Party leader. Not Prime Minister.

I'm sure I don't need to give examples to show how carefully Blair chooses his words but here's one anyway. Bush has finally admitted that the CIA are indeed operating secret detention facilities in which an "alternative set of procedures" have been used to interrogate suspects.

Here's what Blair said when questioned about those facilities back in December 2005:
I have absolutely no evidence to suggest that anything illegal has been happening here at all, and I am not going to start ordering inquiries into this, that and the next thing, when I have got no evidence to show whether this is right or not. And I honestly, it is like all this stuff about camps in Europe or something, I don't know, I have never heard of such a thing, I can't tell you whether such a thing exists.
At the time, much of the media effectively presented this as a denial of the existence of these facilities. Blair actually said no such thing.

Today, much of the media is saying that Blair has agreed to step down as Prime Minister within the next twelve months. He actually said no such thing.

Perhaps this is nothing but this is Blair we're talking about. One thing we should all have learned by now is that it's extremely foolhardy to extrapolate Blair's statements beyond the confines of the precise meaning of his exact words.

If I was one of those in the Labour Party who've been demanding he clarifies the date he intends to vacate Number 10, I don't think I'd be feeling too happy tonight.

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NotSaussure said...

Hmmm. Since Blair's been asked by Her Majesty to serve as her PM by virtue of his being able to form a government for her, doesn't the scenario of his being PM without being Leader of the Labour Party depend on his being able to pursuade Cameron and others to join him in a Government of National Unity? Don't see it somehow.

I think the reason for the phraseology is just that he attends party conferences in a party, as opposed to official, capacity.

. said...

Brown lost his nerve, yet again. Possibly he was spooked by the Sun's vehemence in defence of Blair, knowing full well that having Murdoch on his case from the beginning would be a nightmare.

Nosemonkey said...

Our man NotSaussure is on the money - Tony doesn't decide if he's PM, the Queen does. If he loses the ability to manage parliament, he loses the ability to be PM - hence the chaos of two elections in 1974 (if I recall, Heath initially offered the premiership despite having polled worse than Wilson, because Her Maj reckoned he'd be able to run the country more effectively with the MPs he'd got).

One thing which no one seems to have mentioned - anywhere - is that Labour don't just have conferences once a year. If this is his last Labour Conference as leader, that means he's going to be gone by mid-February, when the Glasgow Spring Conference kicks off.

CuriousHamster said...

I see what you guys are saying but I'm trying to think of this from our great leader's bizarre point of view. I agree that he won't lead a national unity government and I'm sure Blair, delusional as he is, knows this too.

But he might be thinking that if he steps down as party leader, that'll be enough to keep the Labour Party supporting him as PM for a bit longer. If that was to happen, that'd mean her Maj wouldn't need to get involved. I know this sounds far fetched but again, this is Blair we're talking about. It wouldn't surprise me if he thought that was a plausible strategy.

I did originally dismiss the idea because, well, what could he possibly hope to achieve by doing that? But then, what does he hope to achieve by going on for another few months anyway?

I'm fairly certain it won't work but I'm not certain Blair doesn't think it would. This is just idle speculation of course.

Interesting about the Spring Conference. I doubt if he'll actually last even that long. As the man said "Events, dear boy, events".

CuriousHamster said...

The Sun's rage was extraordinary. It sort of leaves you wondering whether there's some specific reason why Murdoch wants Blair in Downing Street for a bit longer.

Sort of makes you wonder about the timescale for possible military action against Iran. Blair would undoubtedly give it his wholehearted support but does Murdoch (or indeed anyone else) actually know if Brown would?

Niels said...

And of course, it would be foolish for a PM to step down when there's a war on. Wouldn't be in the interests of the country, would it?

The sophistry is pretty bad, but when he can get away with flat-out contradictions it's hardly surprising:

"'s the country that matters, and we can't treat the public as irrelevant bystanders in a subject as important as who is their prime minister. "

"And I know you've got reams of questions but I don't think it's very sensible for me to go into them now. "

So we can choose our PM as long as we don't hold them to account?

NotSaussure said...

I don't think the idea of Murdoch telling the Sun to back Blair in the expectation of his support for US military action against Iran is a starter.

It's not really an option that's open the Americans, for reasons explored in depth in the recent Chatham House report on Iran, Its Neighbours and The Regional Crises -- summed up, some months before the report, by Riverbend thus:

if you live in Iraq- you know America’s hands are tied. Just as soon as Washington makes a move against Tehran, American troops inside Iraq will come under attack. It’s that simple -- Washington has big guns and planes… But Iran has 150,000 American hostages.

Even if it were, Blair's backing such an attack would assuredly lead a no confidence motion and his immediate removal as PM by outraged MPs on all sides.

CuriousHamster said...

Neils, indeed. And he apparently strolled past a whole lot of protestors on his way in to make that announcement without giving them a second glance(or even a first one).

notsaussure, I sort of agree. If there was to be military action against Iran, what's currently happening in Iraq would look like a walk in the park. And I don't think any sort of ground invasion is on the cards. The US military just couldn't do that without the draft and that'd be political suicide for the Republicans.

Again, I'm trying to consider this from the point of view of the idiots who didn't predict the current disaster in Iraq. They still seem to believe that a show of strength is the best solution to any problem and that the difficulties they're experiencing are because they've not been tough enough. I wouldn't rule out a massive air campaign at some point soon if Iran continues to "defy" the US.

I do agree that this'd cause chaos in Iraq; I'm just not sure the US govt fully appreciates that.

It is possible, likely even, that it'd bring Blair down. But again, would Blair, increasingly detached as he is, realise that? I'm not sure.

I hope you're right though.

CuriousHamster said...

And thanks for the links. I'll read that CH report once I'm finished trying to wade through the Senate report.

Lurker lurcher said...

If there is military action against Iran against the wishes of the people, citizens will have to stop the apparatus of the state. We don't want war, only one man does, if the Labour Party won't stop him. We will have to do it our selves, NVDA citizens!