This is a nightmare ending for Blair and catastrophic for the Labour party. Having watched breaking news on and off all night (wakeful – don’t know why – usually log-like) the pundits have concluded that having named the day – Tony won’t last the course. Poor sod. Name the day! Name the day! Tony names the day (via the Sun) – and then the day isn’t good enough.
I would feel sorry – but much has been brought upon himself. If their was ever a Faustian pact ‘twixt him and Brown, once in he clearly didn’t want to go at the end of two terms. Clever (but not really) to announce he wouldn’t stand again at the next election as it warded off the inevitable speculation briefly about his tenure. Followed so swiftly after the election by when, when, when.
Tony’s marginal MPs fear their ending at the next election – and yet even in my short time in politics it has dawned that what the public like least is internal wars about the who. Concentrate on the greater good rather than the Labour good.
Having been one of those who signed my name on the letter that helped trigger Charles Kennedy’s demise, I also know that sometimes you have to do what you believe is in the best interest of the party – even to the very person who you have supported and championed. But as with Charles’s ending – which at least was swift in the event and for reasons of health (both his and the party) – it takes time to heal and move on. With hindsight now – and looking at what is happening in Labour – our own troubles seem to have been tackled and got over remarkably quickly. It was just a matter of weeks really, whilst Labour has been hobbled for month after month after month of speculation, plotting, intrigue and infighting.
Labour could have had an ‘orderly transition’ if Blair and Brown had worked it out and worked for the benefit of the party and the country. But given the enmity and the nature of the two men and the political context in which they hate each other – and the now rising realisation that Brown may not be the saviour he is cracked up to be (as I have been banging on about publicly for around two years now) – I can’t see that there is going to be any sort of happy transition.
Charles Clarke and Stephen Pound (both of whom I kind of like to be honest), I see, are both seizing the moment – and to remind the players in this ghastly ritualistic sacrifice that the people might be more impressed if the challenges that face the country were the priority of the government rather than this unseemly mess.
But you can’t have an effective government without an effective leader – and that’s the conundrum that the Westminster bubble will all enjoy over the coming weeks and months.