Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Beginning Of The End

Tony Blair has faced further questions about his leadership this week.
In a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart Mr. Blair repeated a call that he wanted an end to personal attacks in his party. Earlier in a speech in London he warned the Labour Party risked defeat at the next election if in-fighting continued. His comments came after former Home Secretary Charles Clarke criticized the PM's likely successor Gordon Brown. If all the bloodletting and fighting over his departure date has taken its toll on the prime minister - and there was a fresh round of it in Saturday morning's papers - he was not letting it show. Addressing an audience of loyal Blairites, at a long-planned event in central London, Mr. Blair was in relaxed, almost jovial form. The prime minister was not in denial exactly - the first thing he said when the standing ovation at his entrance had died down, was "I haven't gone yet".
But he had obviously decided to treat the events of the past week as a bit of a distraction, a minor bump in the long road to the eventual "triumph of Blairism", as last week's leaked memo had it.

Gordon Brown has begun a fight back against his critics by insisting he had nothing to do with an attempt to unseat Tony Blair as prime minister. In an interview for the BBC's Sunday AM, Mr. Brown said he had told anyone who had asked him that it was for Mr. Blair to decide when he stepped down. The chancellor said he would welcome a leadership contest. Mr. Blair later said he "accepted the assurances" when asked if he believed Mr. Brown had not tried to unseat him. In the BBC interview, Mr. Brown swept aside claims he lacked the ability to get on with other ministers. He insisted he was a "team player" but said chancellors sometimes had to "say no" to other ministers in the interests of the country. Yes, this is true but for sake of Cabinet continuity and Labour Party unity current Party infighting must stop.

Two recommendations are offered here. The first of which is that Mr. Blair should step-down by this October. Next May, local elections take place and with Labour lagging in the polls behind the Conservatives and their charismatic leader David Cameron having a new Labour Party leader like Mr. Brown is the best course of action. The second recommendation is that this course of action be made public at the Labour Party conference. The infighting between those who follow Mr. Brown and Mr. Blair would cease. It would also for a moment, and a moment is important, stop the countless speculation in the press that whom, until recently where the opposition. One thing is for certain the next few months will be interesting.

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