A good article in the Torygraph about Liabour

The decline of Liabour will continue in 2006 and 2007. If Broon doesn't make a move soon, the party will be in an irrecoverable nosedive.


Labour has learnt nothing from the shock of last May
By Rachel Sylvester
(Filed: 27/06/2005)

In the days after the general election last month, Tony Blair telephoned ministers one by one to tell them whether or not they were going to keep their jobs.

As he worked his way through the list of the delighted, the disappointed and the dumped, his mantra was consistent: "We need fresh faces, a clean sweep, a demonstration that we've changed." Only one senior minister, an ally of the Prime Minister in fact, felt confident - or reckless - enough to say what many were thinking: "But, Tony, we're not changing you. " And it was not a joke.

The mood of the rebellion on the Labour benches has quelled to the extent that nobody (well, nobody serious) is now talking about trying to unseat Mr Blair. Despite its greatly reduced majority, the Government seems strong enough to get most of its legislation passed - even this week's vote on ID cards is likely to be nodded through by Labour MPs.

The threat of a referendum on the European constitution, with its associated threat to Mr Blair's leadership, has disappeared. The Tories are in their customary post-election mess. Even the Brownites seem resigned to the fact that the Prime Minister is here to stay for another three years. The prospect of a change of leadership on the Labour benches has evaporated, but at the same time the desire for a change of leadership style is intensifying.

On May 5, Mr Blair looked genuinely shell-shocked as he listened to the election results in Sedgefield. The following morning he seemed truly chastened as he walked into Number 10. "I've listened and I've learnt," he told the nation, humbly, as he faced up to the fact that just 36 per cent of the electorate had voted him back into power. The presidential approach would be replaced by "I, we, the Government".

Yet already an air of self-satisfied complacency has settled on the Government benches. It is business as usual. Ministers seem worn down, even a little bored, by their jobs. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are embarking on a soul-searching exercise, but the good ship Labour sails on in the same direction as before.

The sense of déjà vu is caused partly by the fact that many of the Bills now being introduced into Parliament were first tabled, then abandoned, before polling day. It is compounded by the fact that most of the proposals being announced with great flair by ministers were flagged up in Labour's manifesto.

But there is a more pernicious reversion to type in terms of leadership style as well. Despite the creation of a few Cabinet committees, the sofa remains in pride of place in Mr Blair's den. Civil liberties are still being ignored, the Lords is being stuffed with Labour cronies yet again and Richard and Judy have been revealed to be top of the guest list for dinner at Chequers.

Cherie Blair is out to make money in a way that has horrified normally loyal ministers and officials. Her recent lecture tour was, in the words of one government member, "a disaster" that made the Blairs look shallow and money-grabbing. Euan Blair has landed a great Washington job, in a way that makes it look as if this is an administration for the few not the many.

Meanwhile, the temporary election-campaign lull in hostilities between Tony and Gordon has come to an inevitable end - at last week's Cabinet, I am told, the ultra-loyal Blairite Defence Secretary, John Reid, gave the Chancellor an extraordinary public dressing down in which he accused him of briefing against the Prime Minister over Europe.

And, of course, a leader who received such a personal battering during the election campaign for concentrating on foreign policy at the expense of domestic affairs has been forced back into his old globe-trotting habit like a 40-a-day man who is caught sneaking into the garden for a quick puff. For this, at least, Mr Blair is not really to blame. By a lucky, or unlucky, coincidence, Britain inherits the presidency of the European Union this week, just days before the Prime Minister also takes the chair at the G8 summit in Gleneagles. With Europe in crisis after the No votes in the French and Dutch referendums, Mr Blair has no alternative but to concentrate on trying to find a solution to the problem. He is also right to put all the effort he can into trying to find a way forward on Africa and climate change next week.

There is a difference between pushing for reform in Europe and trying to help children in the Third World on the one hand - two aspirations that the voters generally share - and mounting an unpopular war in Iraq on the other. But it will be difficult for the huge expectations of the G8 meeting, generated by St Bob and his celebrity angels, to be met.

A disappointed public will then blame the Prime Minister for failing to pull George Bush into line. And, on Europe, Mr Blair is in danger of embarking on yet another mission impossible that he will never be able to complete. His allies fear that his battle with Jacques Chirac will become the latest of what the Prime Minister refers to, rather alarmingly, as "my wars", which will lead him gradually away from the voters. "It's very easy to get bogged down in a lot of euro-bollocks," one said. "He's only got three and a half years left - he's got to use his time extremely carefully."

Talk to the Brownites and you get the usual mutterings about the threat to Gordon's inheritance from Tony's decision to stay on as leader. More surprising is the way in which some of Mr Blair's most loyal friends are starting to worry about the Prime Minister's apparent unwillingness to face up to the implications of last month's election result. Later this week, Alan Milburn will publish an article warning the Government against complacency. And an editorial in the latest issue of Progress, the Blairista magazine, says the recent election showed a "dangerous rupturing" of the progressive coalition, criticises the Government's "offensive" attitude to civil liberties and calls on the Prime Minister to develop a "more positive appeal". "Labour can and must do better," it concludes.

Last week, Mr Blair told the European Parliament: "Ideals survive through change. They die through inertia in the face of challenge." The Prime Minister's enemies have been telling him to listen to this advice for years, but now his friends have started asking him to heed it as well.

Latest Threads