Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Robert Ludlum, eat your heart out

Ludlum, right? Author of crappy thrillers, who invented the standard operating procedure of titling your book The (enter random name) (enter intriguingly sinister plot item). I present something similar. What might finally push the Blair over the edge?

I theorise that it's The Edinburgh Gambit. According to Tom Green Ribbon Griffin, the Liberals in Scotland are considering the wisdom of quitting their coalition with Labour ahead of the Scottish election next year. Now, without the Liberals, they have no majority. This means either staggering up to the election with some kind of jury-rigged minority government - call it the Callaghan option - or the bum's rush, if the Liberals, Scot Nats and Green can agree on a common front.

The impact could be deadly. Gordon Brown is not, after all, likely to put up with such a threat to his powerbase. Labour's much-joked over Scottishness might turn out to be a n active power reality. Equally, the shock/humiliation of a Labour government - a Labour government! - being unceremoniously dumped in the street might be fatal. So, should we do it? For the first time since 1974, a Liberal is in a position to shake politics to the keelson.

There's an argument for inaction. Isn't there always? We should let Blair have an orderly succession, for fear of something or other. I'm not sure, though, from a Lib Dem viewpoint, what it is we've got to fear - we have promised to cram down responsibility on the bastard, and we will only look weak if we don't take our opportunities.

Personally, I don't want an orderly succession. I want him to be dragged out of Downing Street, screaming and clinging to his Anthony mug, and then conveyed on the sharp steel floor of a black Maria or army truck to Northolt and the jet that will deliver him to the Hague Tribunal. I'm not sure whether rebellious troops, cops with vicious dogs, or a mob would be better. But I'm sure we can work it out. More seriously, the supposed "Philip Gould memo" fills me with dread about his plans.

The proposed "farewell tour" sounds to me like nothing more but a relaunch of Blair's political career outside the Labour Party. He appears to be trying to re-address the non-political property'n'cars'n'spite vote he's courted so long - for what? I suspect he hopes for a further political career. Winston did, and Ll G did, and Theodore Roosevelt. And, like so many people who don't want to consider history with the rigour it deserves, Blair loves ill-thought out historical analogies.

Update: The more things change.. I still find it hard to understand some of the dynamics here. The original letter calling for Blair to stand down within the year was signed mostly by shiny-faced men who did well out of the war, super-Blairites like Tom Watson. I assumed this was an act of virtual politics, so that the eventual "Blair out" motion that actually came out of the Labour Conference Arrangements Committee would provide for him quitting in a year's time perhaps, as opposed to going on and on, thus getting him another 12 months and the chance to pull the same trick again. It's a manoeuvre with some history in the Labour Party, notably the motion to withdraw troops from Iraq..

But then it began raining bag-carriers as everyone involved quit. Suddenly it looked damned real. And then there's the Gould note, wonderfully snarked by Matthew Norman in yesterday's Indy. Jamie K seems to think he plans a further political career, as I suggested. Perhaps he'll call it the Bull Shit party, by analogy to Teddy Roosevelt?

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