Thursday, March 23, 2006

Blair-must-go watch: the story so far

The general consensus on the political impact of the Budget is that it has rendered Tony Blair even more of an irrelevance as British politics gears up for the Brown v Cameron era. This piece by Jonathan Freedland is typical of many that have appeared in today's papers. I'd include another by the great Peter Oborne if the Mail had bothered to put it online.

Interestingly Mike White took a different tack in a post-Budget discussion with Sky's Jon Craig on College Green yesterday. Together with the Telegraph's Rachel Sylvester and Andrew Pierce of the Times, White said he still expected Blair to go next summer, openly questioning his own paper's editorial stance. "I'm not sure they've got that quite right," he said of Monday's leader calling on the PM to go this year. I suppose when you are Mike White you can get away with that sort of thing....

Anyway, a week after I launched Blair-must-go watch, here's a reminder of what the key opinion formers (!) in both the MSM and the blogosphere have been saying so far:

  • The Economist kicks things off by arguing that it would be in Blair's own interests to go now rather than get mired in a damaging war with his party.

  • Guido Fawkes reveals that his money - a lot of it apparently - is on a Labour Conference handover.

  • Polly Toynbee urges Mr Blair to retire with good grace in the wake of the schools rebellion and the loans-for-peerages affair.

  • Yours truly finally succumbs to the temptation to fire Cromwell's golden bullet in Blair's direction, telling him: "In the name of God, go!"

  • Matthew Parris exceeds even my level of vitriol by branding Mr Blair an "out and out rascal" and "pathological confidence trickster."

  • Iain Dale agrees with Guido that an autumn handover looks increasingly on the cards.

  • The Guardian publishes its by-now famous editorial saying that nine years is quite long enough.

  • BBC Newsnight publishes the results of a poll showing more than 50pc of the public now want Blair to go.

  • Charlie Clarke bravely attempts to hold the line by telling the womens' lobby lunch the PM will go in 2008.

  • Jonathan Freedland tells Blair his luck has run out, citing Iraq as the major cause of his inevitable downfall.

    That's about all for now. By my reckoning the Sun, the Mirror, the Times and the FT are the only national newspapers who haven't yet called on Blair to go in some form or another, so it will be very interesting to see who's next.

    And if anyone is wondering why I'm rehashing all this, then let's just say that that New Labour's "repeat messaging" techniques taught me a thing or two...
  • 8 comments:

    Bob Piper said...

    ...let's just say that that New Labour's "repeat messaging" techniques taught me a thing or two...

    What, such as people easily get bored reading the same thing?

    Paul Linford said...

    Well no-one's forcing you to read it Bob.

    David Gladwin said...

    Keep repeating it, Paul - I bet it's working on him subliminally...

    skipper said...

    You didn't mention the great Sir Simon Jenkins in the Gruaniad who argued Blair was better staying than going and that it was in Brown's interests to keep Tony there, for the full term. absorbing Cameron's attacks and wiping the floor with him.
    Max Hastings today though is very dyspeptic on the New Labour icon and feels he should go soon. I'm looking for odds on him staying until summer 2008 minimum and spring 2009 max.

    Bob Piper said...

    David, I don't need 'working on'. I opposed the Blairites when everyone else was jumping up and down singing 'things can only get better'.... including our modern day SDP/Liberals.

    stalin's gran said...

    Paul - re your comment on Guido (and thanks for the praise, very kind) I can only say,! I am who I say I am....Stalin's Gran. And by the way, from reading between the lines, I suspect that Mr Pascoe-Watthefeckisgoingon is of a more Conservative persuasion than you think....

    Paul Linford said...

    Okay Gran, I won't get into the game of trying to expose peoples' real identities in public, suffice to say I have my strong suspicions! It is fairly obvious from a lot of your comments (including the one on my blog about Ming Campbell's initial havering over whether to oppose the Iraq war) that you are Lobby or ex-Lobby, and given that I spent nine years there from 1995-2004 I am reasonably sure we actually know eachother, which is slightly spooky for me as you know perfectly well who I am while I can't be 100pc sure who you are!

    As for GPW, what you say about his Conservative persuasions only bears out my wider point, ie that he is enough of a professional to sublimate his real political views in pursuit of a good story. The previous poster on Guido (Mike Wood) was trying to make out that Pascoe was some sort of leftie who had steered the Sun's political coverage away from that of true-believer Trevor K. You and I both know that is bollocks.

    stalin's gran said...

    Indeed Paul, total bollocks. Mr Pascoe-Watson is a vacuous chancer of the first order but at heart a natural Conservative (adopted tendency) of the old order. He will swing behind Cameron (and that IS a golf analogy) very quickly and has already tried to do so (cf his interview on allegedly becoming political editor) until Irwin Stelzer (aka Keith Rupert Murdoch) slapped him down. Not a good start....