Monday, January 29, 2007

Who Wants To Be President?

The other day, while watching Blair make a bad job of delivering a televised speech, I was struck by one thought; that's it, he's finished. I was just about to articulate this when the other person in the room turned to me and said "he's finished, isn't he?"

Thursday's QT saw Matthew Parris say "I honestly think that he's losing his reason" to much applause. Parris pointed out that Blair's refusal to attend the Iraq debate in parliament was far more damaging than anything that could have happened to him if he'd attended the debate. I doubt there's more than a handful of Labour Party member in the whole country who would disagree. Leaving aside the morals of it, avoiding the debate was an absolutely awful political judgement. He's lost it.

Over at Blairwatch, Tom asks if Tony is fit to govern. I wonder if even his closest supporters could look you in the eye and tell you that he is.

But the Labour Party, aware that he's going soon and worried about creating a scene, are now content to let him have his final few months. Why they think that it's a kindness to Blair or to the Labour Party to allow this shell of a man to continue as leader is one of life's little mysteries. The Tories are the only one's who're actually going to benefit.

Tom picked out a quotation from Blair's interview with Jon Soppel:
I won an election in 2005.
This isn't a further sign that he has lost it; it's been clear for a long time that Blair has no respect for the conventions of British parliamentary democracy. He's thought of himself as Presidential in even his most rational moments. In the U.K, we elect a parliament of MPs and everything else is built on that. Blair's inability to understand that fundamental principle (and its implications) was one of his greatest failings.

It is interesting to note that Blair Lite appears to think exactly the same way. Voters did not vote for Blair at the last general election just as they won't vote for Dave in the next one. If the boy wonder wants to be elected President, he should say so and start campaigning for a new constitutional arrangement.

Instead, he appears to have accepted Blair's doctrine. Rather than promising to repair parliamentary democracy, he accepts that Blair's abuse of the unwritten rules of the current system has created a Presidential Prime Minister and he wants to be the next one at the earliest opportunity.

But what about Brown? I don't have the faintest idea what he thinks. Between the Blairite spinning against him, the Brownite spinning for him and his own supine acquiescence and his endless positioning to keep Blair onside, it is impossible to know.

If Brown's refuses to hold an early election, especially if Labour goes through a boost in the polls when he takes over and it looks like they could win, this could, perhaps bizarrely, be a demonstration of his commitment to British parliamentary democracy. A snap election during a poll bounce, on the other hand, would be cynical indeed.

Either way, Brown's continuing involvement in the Blair government means that he already has a whole lot of baggage to contend with. It'll take a lot more than a few headline grabbing initiatives to shake that legacy off his back. To be honest, I can't see how it can be done.

I know this is fanciful but wouldn't it be great if democracy was about more than just choosing the least worst option?


redpesto said...

I know this is fanciful but wouldn't it be great if democracy was about more than just choosing the least worst option?

Yes - but that means Polly 'Nosepegs' Toynbee would be out of a job? ;-)

But seriously: Cameron knows he'll get all of Blair's toys to play with if he wins, and the fact that Blair seems closer to the Tories than to Labour (see health and education) will make it so much easier for him.

Anonymous said...

I would tend to think that Tony's last act will be to send NuLab to the wilderness for the next 20 years.

Luca's Ade said...

What was that about losing his reason?....."Mr Blair, who has not named an exit date but is widely expected to remain in his job until June, told Today it would "not be very democratic" to stand down earlier than he had planned."