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Blair: The Final Countdown

Seven members of Tony Blair's government resigned today in protest at the prime minister's reluctance to publicly name a departure date. (Guardian.) Blair faces wave of resignations (BBC).

A backbench revolt is one thing, but when it's led by junior ministers it tends to suggest that they expect to be richly rewarded for their early loyalty by the successor regime. Is the end nigh for Teflon Tony?

36 Comments

1:

I'm not sure what the fuss is about, I'm sure he'll resign as soon as we pull out of Iraq. (j/k)

2:

Tho' I'll probably be made a liar by him suddenly departing whilst I type this, my notion is that any scenario which relies on Blair actually putting his name to resignation papers, is just not on the cards.

He just ain't going to resign, na hah, regardless of however untenable his staying is politically, and however insane he looks -- and the recent leakage and statements from his office that the press are throwing around make him and his ultra loyalist buddies look pretty darn insane to me.

So it's going to have be actually formal methods of removal, which just aren't going to happen regardless of the angst because the Labour Party is still completely useless at sticking the knife in, and parliamentary votes of no-confidence are ranked among the more ornamental and meaningless parts of the constitution, as they're designed to never ever work.

I'm therefore expecting months and months of an ever more feverish and paranoid Parliamentary Labour Party Civil war where the remaining loyal and shrinking cadre Blairites get busy ripping Gordon Brown and anyone he ever spoke to, and anyone who spoke to them, limb from limb, because he's OUT to GET THEM with HIS CONSTANT DISLOYAL PLOTTING.

At some stage after Labour being wiped out in the Welsh and Scottish Election, and us having invaded Iran on the grounds that ALAMAJHED (sp?) has been PLOTING to ARM BROWN WITH NUKES and IS CLEARLY GORDONs GREATEST ALLY, the by now completely gibbering Blair finally will fire Brown from the cabinet, and it's only at the point does requisite number of Labour MPs finally get the courage up to mount a actual formal leadership challenge. A contest in which will, doubtless due to internal Labour party rules, take at least sixth months, with the frothing Blair aiming to be re-elected by the Party despite wearing his shiny straight-jacket, 'cos he's *still* not resigning as PM, na hah.

Of course by then we all here in .uk will be even more completely and utterly buggered up to hell and back than we are already by these guy's crackpot schemes made law, and will hate every politician who ever lived even more than previously.

Which means we're all doomed to get the [expletive deleted] Tories in again.

*groan*

3:

If your scenario comes to pass, England is doomed to get the Tories in. Scotland is perilously close to electing an outright SNP majority at the next elections (due any month now), and the SNP are committed to a devolution referendum within 90 days. With Alex Salmond leading them again, they've got credibility and a popular leader.

My money is, the longer Tony dithers, the greater the risk that Scotland will pull the eject handle from the UK. And neither Brown nor the rest of the PLP will tolerate a situation where Tony's madness threatens to cost them 70 seats on a permanent basis (and their current majority is what -- 35-ish?) so they'll be forced to act before the Scottish election.

If Tony is booted out by then, I suspect that even if the SNP win the election, they'll lose the independence vote afterwards. Tony isn't too popular up here (although he's not a patch on that bogey people use to frighten their wee ones with, Maggie the Thatch).

4:

If you will pardon the code, Here's a simple process flow for lazy reporters over the next few days, weeks etc

Question 1: When will you resign?
If (Tony fails to give a firm Date)
then
Do you have the full confidence of your party ?
Followed by a repeat of Question 1
else
How are handing power to Gordon ?
end if
Exception occurs (any mention of any policy)
Aren't you a bit of a lame duck ?
Followed by a repeat of Question 1

"All political careers end in failure" Enoch Powell
[one of the very few political quotes that is clear and accurate]

It's time to go, Tony, hanging on will not change anything.
The legacy [War on Terror, Iraq, an Independant Bank of England and 3 labour election wins] is cast in concrete.


5:

If my scenario comes to pass, and your SNP outright majority scenario also comes to pass in turn, then I'll doubtless find voting in favour of that eject lever quite horribly tempting myself, despite my English accent.

6:

The SNP is committed to an independence referendum. We already have devolution.

7:

And turkey's will vote for Christmas...

8:

And turkey's will vote for Christmas (or Thanksgiving for that matter)

-- Andrew

9:

Don't forget the US Elections in November.

Think of the reaction if Bush's lapdog quits before then.

The trouble is that Novermber doesn't leave much time to settle who's boss before the Scottish and Welsh elections become hot issues.

I must admit, I'd like there to be a Blairite crash-and-burn, embarassing to the Bushistas, before November.

10:

Has anyone considered that if Blair is removed for any reason, the US will re-classify the UK as a haven for terrorists and invade?

11:

Colin, the US has already invaded the UK.

The US military has 35 bases in the UK with a total of 16,500 personnel (as of 2004) (see this report for details).

12:

he US military has 35 bases in the UK with a total of 16,500 personnel.

We've had those since the cold war, so it's more a matter of not leaving when we're not needed. Of course, we also have bases all over the rest of Europe. :)

My dad was stationed at RAF Lakenheath in the 80s, and we loved the experience. I thought it was a great method of cultural exchange, though there were a few people who barely left base the entire time they were there. (Apart from the times when some local British punks tried to beat up my sister and I for being American.) My love of history and Europe comes from all of the trips we got to take to historic landmarks across Europe, and from the class they gave us on English history.

13:

What really amazed me is that Tony in his speech today actually acknowledged that the public does exist - and should be listened to - excuse me??? When did he start doing this?

Change is long overdue. The horrific thing about all of this is that it might let the Tories in to kill off the UK...

I'd like to see Gordon in charge as I'm sure he's had to bite his tongue, or hide his true thoughts in some New Labour cover-up for the past few years.

14:

We've had those since the cold war, so it's more a matter of not leaving when we're not needed.

And to think people used to diss the Red Army for that sort of thing...

15:

I used to think Brown would be a better bet, but that was ohh, about 6 years ago. Everything since then has confirmed my suspicions that he would be as bad as Blair. The last straw was hearing him promoting his amazing scheme for developing countries, that effectively involved a developmental version of the PFI, meaning that countries should borrow now and pay back later.

16:

And to think people used to diss the Red Army for that sort of thing...

That's funny -- the Red Army was always needed. The Revolution couldn't work without them to prevent the people from joining the West.

17:

Er, Tony, the French threw us out; why can't Britain?

18:

Actually, the US is sharply reducing its forces in Germany (since there's little danger of a massive Red Army attack through the Fulda Gap these days) and the Germans have been complaining about it, particualrly the communities concerned, who don't like the thought of Bulgaria getting those funds.

If Scotland did leave the Union, the proximate political result would be that the Tories would run England virtually in perpetuity -- they got a majority of the English vote in the last election, IIRC.

Glyph of irony: Scotland would secure independence just when the North Sea oil ran out. 'twould be a truly stupid move, almost as stupid as the original Union in 1707 was smart. Like most imperial splits, it would be bad for the periphery and good for the center.

Many previous Labor governments (and Liberals before them) depended on "Celtic Fringe" MP's during intervals when they couldn't win a majority of English seats, something the English tend understandably to resent.

19:

The really amusing thing about this is that Blair (and Brown) are the ones who turned Labor from an unelectable fringe cult into a governing party again.

Judging by a lot of the comment in the Labor press in Britain, the left wing of the party still haven't forgiven Blair for this, and have developed a convenient case of amnesia about the other Killer B.

I suppose they were happier with Foot and gnashing their teeth from the sidelines.

The post-Blair civil war in the Labor ranks will be entertaining to watch -- particularly to a certain Mr. Cameron.

Ah, well, democracy at work. The Ins become the Outs and the Outs become the Ins.

20:

As an American, I may be misconstruing this. But isn't there some irony in the fact that Devolution was included in the platform of the Labour Party which, thanks to Tony Blair, won in May 1997? Less than four months later a referendum of the Scottish electorate overwhelmingly supported establishing a new devolved Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Following the election of May 1999, power shifted from Westminster to the new Parliament, temporarily in the Church of Scotland's General Assembly Hall on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, on 1 July 1999.

On 12 May 1999, my wife attended the first meeting of the parliament, where her friend's aunt Winnie Ewing (a.k.a. Mother of Parliament) declaimed: "the Scottish Parliament, which adjourned on 25 March 1707, is hereby reconvened."

And -- the irony -- Blair seems to be presiding over the self-destruction of New Labour, which portends a landslide for SNP, at the expense of Labour and various splinter parties.

Is that really the plot twist unfolding, or am I utterly confused?

21:

The surprising thing to me is that it has taken so long for the USA to start getting troops out of Germany. I would have done it back in the 90's.
As for the North sea oil, production is falling, but high oil prices help keep the money coming in. I guess production should be just about done in 15 years time.

Meanwhile, England will have to Import more and more of its oil and gas. THe balance of payments will worsen continuously.

22:

SMS: You haven't had to put up with the NuLab control freakery for a decade. They've ditched Socialism and replaced it with Big-Brotherism. It's interesting to note that in his attempts to position the Conservatives as a viable opposition party again Cameron's trying to pull out the dusty libertarian stops on the organ and get them working again. Over the past decade, British politics seems to have been repolarizing along authoritarian/liberal lines, with Labour really nailing their flag to the Safety Nazi mast.

I'm not so sure Scottish independence would be a bad thing for Scotland; the SNP are looking west, across the Irish Sea, at their model for what they want to do with their pocket republic once they've cast off and set to sea. There's a lot of money to be made if you can round up some EU regional development grants and use them to subsidize inward investment from overseas multinationals looking to acquire an English-speaking toe-hold in Europe. Ireland has managed 7-9% annual economic growth for a decade on that basis, without needing to pump oil or gas. There is space for low-population high-skill economies in Northern Europe (as witness, say, Finland as well as Ireland).

23:

I'd just like to thank you all for prophesising Tory hell for me living in England. Maybe I should move back home and throw myself on the whims of the Welsh Assembly...

24:

If you like, I'll trade your Tories for my GOP. :)

25:

When you get down to it, Margaret Thatcher was brought down by her own party, and John Major got in and won an election.

I wouldn't bet on Gordon Brown, he's as much part of the Old guard as anyone in New Labour can be. But he and Margaret Beckett, and a few others, know where the bodies are buried.

Maybe literally|: MB isn't the brightest spark out there, and yet she still gets to be Foreign Secretary. What, I wonder, does she know about events in 1994?

26:

Jonathan, the SNP are such a shambles (more so than the Tories) that until someone up here gets their act together Scottish independence will remain a pipe dream - oil fuelled or otherwise. Just like their one dimensional economic policy.

27:

The latest official statement from Mr. Blair is intended to indicate that his departure date is now clearly stated to be bigger than a breadbox, but smaller than the table of my aunt.

28:

The Party Conference will be interesting.

I suspect the real players are trying to maintain plausible deniability until then.

29:

Guthrie,

The US did begin drawing down forces in the 90s. The late 80s peak for deployment in Germany was four divisions, two armored cavalry regiments, a handful of artillery brigades and various other odds and sods. Strength was cut to half that by the late 90s and now is drawing down further. I'm betting the US deployment levels in the UK followed a similar trajectory.

30:

BAOR followed the same pattern - at the top, there were two British corps, with four armoured divisions, a division-sized wedge of artillery, and a div or so of light infantry, plus a world of supports. Reduced to current level of 1 div since 1992.

On-topic, what I want to know is what an independent Yorkshire would be like.

31:

Plus troops in Berlin...

Not a bad posting, I gather, if you didn't dwell on the likely consequences of WW3 starting. Nowhere to run to, just like in 1945. All you'd need, Charlie, would be the zombies.

32:

INdependent Yorkshire? Would flat caps be compulsory?

33:

Colin Meier "Has anyone considered that if Blair is removed for any reason, the US will re-classify the UK as a haven for terrorists and invade?"


If there's one thing that the Bush maladministration has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's that they have the Blackadder military policy - never attack people with guns. Spears would give Bush pause. Even if the Trident has some backdoors which were never found by the British, the ability to slap Washington,DC or whereeverthef*ckinTexasBushgetsdrunk with a dozen nukes would deter the GOP.

34:

SMS: They've ditched Socialism and replaced it with Big-Brotherism.

-- they're dedicated nannyists who'd like to encase everyone in bubble-wrap seeded with sensors, but as the saying goes, you elected the buggers, didn't you?

"the SNP are looking west, across the Irish Sea, at their model for what they want to do with their pocket republic once they've cast off and set to sea."

-- the Irish created a business-friendly and low-tax environment (the French are always pissing and moaning about that), which I can't see the SNP doing.

They're instinctive put-them-on-the-public-payroll and jobs-for-the-lads types, from what I've seen. Admittedly I'm not an expert.

Also the Irish had the "demographic dividend" working for them. For a generation after a country's birth-rate drops below the replacement level, it gets a big boost (other things being equal) as the proportion of workers to dependents shoots up.

Then the chickens come home to roost as the median age starts to move out of the working-age bracket and the dependency ratio starts to shoot up again. The Irish (and for that matter the Chinese) are just starting to edge into the beginnings of that stage.

Scotland's demographics are quite different from Ireland's, and much less favorable.

It's really been yesterday's country since the 1920's, at least.

35:

One problem with talking about individual countries in the EU is that, as far as employment demographics go, they're not individual countries. If Scotland needs more workers, they can come from elsewhere in the EU. And if the jobs are elsewhere, Scots can move to the jobs.

We don't have a barrier like the border between the USA and Mexico. Which is why about half a million came from Poland to the UK, quite lawfully.

It gets our politicians all hot and bothered, and the people who oppose such things usually manage to make themselves look like racist thugs. But the EU has a far more open market in labour than the NAFTA.

And the EU has a history of finding regions which have a high-labour, low-capital, economy, ultimately vulnerable to those demographic shifts, and shifting the balance towards capital.

An independent Scotland, on Charlie's timescale, is still going to be getting the demographic problems, and the change in types of industry, sorted out. And it won't be held back by the dead hand of Whitehall. Currently, it's as if West Virginia had been reunited with the rest of the State after your Civil War.

36:

SMS: I'll have you know that I bloody didn't elect the buggers -- I have not voted Labour since 1989.

And I'd thank you to remember that at the last general election, 71% of those who cast votes cast them for different parties.

Finally, as Dave Bell notes, countries in the EU have free movement of labour (apart from the idiots who passed temporary opt-out clauses). I live in a city of 470,000 people, of whom 20,000 are Polish. Two years ago it was about 450,000, and less than 2000 Poles. From observation, I'd say their average age seems to be 20-25 ...

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