Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Blair’s Legacy: Conservative Rule in Britain?

Posted by K.E. White on April 8, 2007

The Labourites are in a jam. Their old leader has fallen badly into disrepute and his supposed heir—Gordon Brown—is not sealing support among the ranks.

 The result? Labour may be on course for a messy and reckless leadership brawl.

 The Sidney Morning Herald reports:

Gordon BrownSenior Blairites say that in recent weeks the party’s private polling has shown the Chancellor’s popularity falling badly among voters – particularly after a 2 per cent cut in income tax was denounced as a budget “con trick” by the Conservative Party and he was found to have acted against warnings from his civil servants in his decision to stage a “raid” on pension funds in 1997 that has cost £100 million ($240 million).

Ministers close to Mr Blair also say the next Labour leader should be English (Mr Brown is Scots). They suggested that Mr Blair feared Mr Brown would “wreck” Labour’s achievements.

A close ally of the Chancellor hit back on Saturday night, saying: “Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are working flat out to win every Labour vote they can in the local elections. That is what every person with Labour’s interests at heart should be doing and we will not be distracted from that effort by this self-indulgent, divisive nonsense.”

The Economist weighs in—bemoaning Brown’s attempts to muzzle any leadership contest:

So far the only heavyweight figure who seems to be thinking seriously of mounting a challenge to Mr Brown is Charles Clarke, the former home secretary. Mr Clarke is no admirer of Mr Brown and he has distinguished himself in a series of thoughtful speeches in recent months. He has argued for co-payments by users to help finance public services, more green taxes and a stronger commitment to Europe. He has also expressed doubts over the rush to replace Trident, Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Last week he criticised moves to split up the Home Office.

Whether Mr Clarke runs will depend in part on whether he can muster the required 44 supporting signatures from Labour MPs. As long as the Brownites persist in seeing any backing of a rival candidate as a hanging offence, Mr Clarke, who cuts quite a lonely figure at Westminster these days and has only a few brave backers, will struggle to get himself on the ballot.

For their part, the chancellor’s supporters are bent on getting their man into Number 10 with the least possible difficulty or upset. They appear to care little that the resulting stitch-up will strike many voters as shabby and unconvincing. It is time they realised that the more tarnished Mr Brown has become, the more urgently he needs the purifying fire that only a proper contest can provide.

David MilibandBut it seems that Clark is not the man to run, but Environment Secretary David Miliband:

So, it’s game on, is it? As further polls erode the position of Gordon Brown, and an ever wider array of newspaper columnists turn on him, an old-style New Labour spin operation lets it be known that Tony Blair, no less, believes that David Miliband could and should challenge the chancellor for the leadership. Suddenly, despite denial from Downing Street, what was certain seems less so. Not a coronation after all, perhaps, but a bare-knuckle fight. It isn’t just the rising sap of spring that has refreshed the mood at Westminster, but relish for a proper political scrap. (The Guardian)

David Cameron, the clear conservative leader come the 2009 Parliamentary elections, seems to take Miliband seriously:

CameronDavid Cameron has ordered Conservative Campaign Headquarters to prepare for a Labour leadership crisis by setting up a special unit to target David Miliband.

Officials have been told to start tracking every aspect of the Environment Secretary’s activity, including his speeches, media appearances and even his Internet blog. (Evening Standard)

So is Labour on its way out in Britain? It’s far too early to make any predictions. But one thing is clear, Britons are in need of change—and the next Prime Minister will be presented a with the rare opportunity to realign the British electorate.

2 Responses to “Blair’s Legacy: Conservative Rule in Britain?”

  1. Thanks, always good posts on your blog!

  2. And one year on where are we here in Britain? With a sub-prime minister who has reminded people just how good the previous one was. And Labour is about to be walloped in the local elections on Thursday (1st May, 2008). And the Tories are about to benefit despite having nothing much to say except that Blair was right all along.

    What a crazy world.

    Btw, I am not convinced that Britain did want to be rid of Blair. The papers said we did, but the papers have been wrong before. They even thought that Gordon Brown as PM would be a good idea!

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