Saturday, May 07, 2005

Blair's back, but his days are numbered

Blair's back, although he took a hit that will force him to play the humble servent for a while. There were a significant number of seats that shifted from Labour to Tory, though this may well be a quirk of first-past-the-post voting: if enough voters shift from Labour to Lib-Dem then the Tories can win, even if they have no swing toward them.

The Lib-Dems were disappointing in not being able to capitalise further on the anti-Labour sentiment, capturing just 11 new seats when Labour lost 47. The Tories managed to snap up many of these, and the potential for two equally balanced oppostion parties, in the Lib-Dems and the Tories, attacking Pincer-style from the left and from the right, is not to be.

The message that can be taken from the result is that voters are gradually plucking up the courage to vote again for the tainted Conservative brand. Voters were concerned about the unrestrained power possessed by Blair in his previous term in office, and want to choke it back. Turfing out some sitting Labour MPs was the best way to do it.

Blair now runs the risk of being a lame duck Prime Minister. He's already announced that this will be his final term as PM, but the $64 question (damn I wish I had the pound symbol on this keyboard) is just when will he hand the reins over, and more to the point, who the hell does he think he is riding Santa's sleigh anyway? The voters' gentle rebuke of Blair suggests that sooner rather than later is the time to hand them over. He risks outstaying his welcome, and making electoral success even tougher for his successor, if he refuses to heed the message. In his victory speech, ex-Labour nutter George Galloway suggested that Blair resign in the morning. It won't quite happen that way, but Blair needs to start thinking about it. Blair has a good enough sense of history to go with grace and dignity rather than forcing his deputy Gordon Browne to challenge. Watch for it in late 2006.

3 comments:

Andrew Landeryou said...

Ari, his days are numbered? All of our days are numbered I guess but your analysis is just anti Blair spin which adds very little to the debate.

As you well know, UK governments have pretty much unrestrained power with no real checks and balances. So what are you talking about?

Bottom line is Blair was re-elected emphatically. My mail is that he is contemplating Maggie's record and I see no reason why he won't get there.

The Lib-Dems are always disappointing, as they get weirder and weirder in the manner of John COulter's funky Democrats. Perhaps he has followed Lytton over to London to consult.

The Social Democrats were of course formed by the best and brightest Labour moderates of their time. So the foundations were strong enough, but what has been built upon them is a true house of horrors, populated by leftist ghouls and a strange idea lurking under every creaking floorboard. Their opposition to the War of Liberation of Iraq was shameless and rank opportunism.

Game on.

Jeremy said...

I didn't know you had a blog, just found it from Brent's. Anyway, I think you're too dismissive of the LibDem's performance, while they only have ~60 seats, they came second in 160 more. To be the "real alternative" in a two party system you gotta get in second place, and they've done a lot towards getting there. It'll be interesting to see if it's a long term trend.

Btw I've just started my own blog, "dispatches from the moderate left" (modleft.blogspot.com). It'll focus on US and Aust politics, my next post will probably be on progressivity in tax and the budget. Anyway, just thought I'd slip a pimp in.

Polly said...

the UK election results show the stupidity of first past the post voting.
I think the Lib Dems results highlight this the most - they get 22% of the primary vote and end up with less than 10% of the seats. Andrew, comparing them to Coulter ADs is pretty harsh.

What will be interesting is to see how Blair manages with a signifcant number of hostile back benchers and a smaller majority.