Tuesday, September 05, 2006

That Non-Existent Timetable In Full

The Scum is reporting that Blair will announce his retirement on the 31st of May next year and will officially step down on 26th July (no link yet, it was on Newsnight and News 24).

For anyone who needs reminding, the Scum accurately "predicted" the date of the last two general elections called by Blair. They called the 2005 election date in November of 2004. It's not called the Downing Street Echo for nothing.

With this news just breaking, Hilary Benn appeared on Newsnight to defend Blair in what can only be described as a breathtaking performance. He suggested that Blair had been "absolutely straight with people" and went on to say that Blair had "the interests of the party at heart" before recommending that "people should trust him".

He then had to desperately backpedal when Kirsty Wark pointed out that the Prime Minister is actually employed to have the interests of the country at heart rather than those of the Labour Party but I struggled to hear him over the sound of my own hollow laughter. The idea that Blair has the interests of anyone but himself at heart is just too ridiculous. And the suggestion that people should trust him? Well, I struggled to tell whether the tears running down my cheeks were from laughing or crying.

The finale of the interview then topped everything that had come before. Wark asked him about the Scum report and he replied:
"I have no idea where the Sun got that story from and it's not for me to comment on it. I don't know. I think we should trust the Prime Minister..."
These people really do think we're all intellectually challenged. If I want to be insulted, I'll book an appointment to visit Room 12 (not Room 12A of course, that's for arguments (although the guy who works there might deny that)). I don't expect to be insulted by public servants.

In truth, Hilary Benn is a bare faced liar; he knows exactly where the Scum got that story from. It takes a certain kind of person to man the barricades in defence of Blair these days and Benn junior has all the right attributes. I wonder if his father is still proud of him?

So then, despite Benn's pitiful denials, we now know that Downing Street has leaked the date when Blair intends to announce his retirement. May 31st 2007. It's nine months away.

It looks as if that'll be too long for some in the party and that he could be forced out before then. I'm firmly of the view that he needs to be forced out for all sorts of reasons (and I'm slightly more optimistic about the possibility than I was even earlier today). The clock is ticking.

On a related note, I'm struggling to know what to think about those previously loyal MPs who've finally decided to push for Blair's departure. In the previous post, I characterised these people as being motivated by self-interest and there's no doubt that this is an important factor. It is also true, however, that there are other factors at work. Blair's stance on Lebanon, for example, genuinely seems to have had an affect on many in the party. There is still a conscience in there somewhere.

But we're talking about people whose silence has enabled Blair to stay in power long past the time when it became clear that he was not fit for the task. For me, the year 2004, when it became absolutely clear that there were no WMD in Iraq, was a turning point. Anyone who, even by their silence, continued to support Blair after that was knowingly defending the indefensible.

So, if these previously loyal MPs are at last going to force Blair out, I welcome that. But it may take some time for me to offer my thanks to those who, more than two years late, have finally decided to speak up. And if they're going to do it while saying "Tony has been a great PM..." then I doubt I'll ever thank them.

This country will feel the negative consequences of his disasterous foreign policies for years, no, decades to come. That might have been a price worth paying if these policies had delivered something positive and worthwhile in return. But they haven't; it's all pain and no gain. If that's the work of a great PM, I'd hate to see a crap one.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bad news for Gordon then. A definate date allows the "Down with Brown" camp to effectively mobilise to a timetable.