“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!” Eh?

Michael Portillo, speaking on Weekend Breakfast (click on to 2.06) this morning on Five Live gave an interesting analysis from one who has been in thick of his own party’s civil war, when he pointed out that (despite all the dodgy doings emanating from the Iraq War), and the poor poll ratings, there is one glaring lesson to be learned from the Tories’ killing off of the ‘unpopular’ Thatcher. The manner in which they did it, put a drag on the Major’s Premiership. And as most labourites are only too aware, David Cameron (luxuriating in the stable base created by Michael Howard) is no Neil Kinnock.The strangest thing about all of this (and it has created space for vast amounts of,possibly groundless, press speculation) is that, as Portillo pointed out at the time, Blair clearly had a smooth transition in mind when he engineered his last (fairly bloody) Cabinet reshuffle.

According to the Guardian, the public is now favouring an open race for the leadership/premiership. Back on Radio Five, Portillo reckons Clarke’s abrasive attack on Brown’s lack of courage and ill-collegiality is ill-judged on two counts: he’s attacking his own party’s next PM; and, most damagingly, that both charges are basically true.

So, with such a bizarre episode of public self emoliation (indeed Mr Aaronovitch), we ask an old familiar Slugger question: Cui Bono?

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  • Hidden Gem

    Tony Blair has said this will be his last Labour Party conference as party leader and as PM. IMO, it shows good leadership on his part to insist that the dates and times of his departure be left to him. The eight junior officials who quit were foolish in the extreme. Their resignations did little good for them, the Labour Party or the UK government. The opposition parties will be the only beneficiaries of Labour’s in-house fighting however, overall, we all loose out as the job of government is not being done. Tony is not being allowed to keep his eye on the ball as it were. I think Charles Clarke is still carrying a deep rooted grudge for his perception of how he was treated. Furthermore, Gordon Brown would do well to recall how Margaret Thatcher’s exit as Britain’s prime minister in 1990 affected the efficacy of John Major’s premiership and Michael Portillo is right to point this out.

  • Rory

    I like the response of one of Aaronovitch’s correspondents to his comment that Andrew Marr (during the Major years) was:

    “then one of the best political columnists around,“.

    He responded: “let me cite John Milton, once the best blind poet in the country: “.

    I just love the imagery of a long list of blind poets vying for primacy.

    Inside Politics on Radio 4 was interesting, there seemed, from the roundup which I caught, a concensus that Blair was finished, although Ann McElvoy opined that he would not be dictated to by Brown’s timetable. Simon Heffer added an interesting caveat which might excite conspiracy theorists (and who with any experience of N Ireland is not at least a little bit of a conspiracy theorist? To reject it entirely invites madness.) Heffer asked what if say a 9/11 attack were to occur within the next months – would Blair not then go before the nation and assure them that he would not be in derelection of his solemn duty to lead the nation through these difficult times..blah, blah, blah…

    Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.