Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Blair's Exit

Following disastrous headlines for two weeks, a disastrous local election result, and an attempt to reinvigorate politics in his own party with a reshuffle, Tony Blair seems to have used up all of his nine lives. The Times carries a headline poll putting Labour at its lowest point for fourteen years. The Guardian labels the position as delusional. It has a whiff of inevitability about it - finally - and it could get messy before it gets better. Gordon Brown began to put his own type of pressure on the PM before the weekend, talking about the party's need for renewal. He apparently met with the PM over the weekend, having discussions described by Blair as private. Today, he tells the Beeb two things of importance. First, that no timetable was discussed over the weekend, which seems odd. And second, that Blair 'is going to talk to senior colleagues about the details of the "stable and orderly" transfer of power'. Furthermore, Deputy PM John Prescott has warned party members against a war over the future, which presumably means that he at least thinks that war is a possible outcome from the current impasse.

Blair's number is up. Brown is beginning to find the steel necessary to make the position his. Rather than wielding the knife (casting him as the man destined not to wear the crown), rather he is nudging his old mate Tony towards falling on his own sword. That's not going to work, however. It may well be that the old codger Prescott is the man for the job. Loyal to the party before Blair, and just about the best liked New Labourite of the Old Labour faction, his nose has proved most sensitive in the past, and he may well tell the PM it's time to go.

Prescott's real job, in this writer's opinion, is the facilitation of the transition. Prescott the smooth-overer, the pressure manager, the diplomat, the common ground. In essence, the kingmaker. Won't be long now though.

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