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Tuesday, September 05, 2006 

Mirror, Mirror on the memo.

There's plenty of reasons to be suspicious about the leaked memo which appears in today's Mirror, setting out a laughable exit strategy for Blair. In what amounts to a publicity blitz, Blair was meant to appear on Blue Peter, Songs of Praise and Chris Evans' Radio 2 show, as well as visiting up to 20 buildings finished since 1997 and turning up at hospitals and schools across the land.

The memo shows the same unbreakable optimism as that of a previously leaked one which was meant to have said that the public were upset and angry that the Dear Leader was leaving, hence why Labour's support and his own personal ratings were down. That Blair might not be welcomed with open arms in schools and hospitals, places where he has been both booed and accosted before doesn't seem have occurred to his spin doctors.

The more interesting thing is whether it was leaked purely to try and get those who are currently involved in the circulation of letters calling for Blair to either go now or to announce his so-called timetable to back down. The appearance of David Miliband, tipped to be a future leader of the party, saying that Blair is to stand down in around twelve months time is further evidence of this. As Nick Robinson says, this is more or less a timetable, just not personally endorsed by the prime minister himself. It shows the panic inside Downing Street that this could turn into an attempted coup, even if led by ex-loyalists such as Chris Bryant (best known for being caught wearing just a pair of white underpants in a photograph on the Gaydar website) and Sion Simon. The claims that it was leaked by someone sympathetic to Gordon Brown are ridiculous - for a start, how on earth would one of them get hold of it? It has the fingers of Alastair Campbell all over it, leaked both to his former paper and without a single mention of him in the article.

More than anything, the memo shows that the ultra-Blairites are determined to keep control of the party, or at the very least ensure that Blair has something of a legacy other than Iraq. As the memo states, Iraq is the elephant in the room. A more apt description would be of a festering sore on Blair's forehead, getting bigger by the day, with its pus continually streaming down his face. We all know that Blair will never accept that he was wrong to invade Iraq - he has convinced himself, whether spiritually or politically, that it was the right thing to do, despite the blow back spreading by the day and despite the blood which continues to flow across the decimated, broken country. He may however finally admit that there was no WMD, and apologise for that, a small meaningless confession that will attempt to draw a line under the matter, just as he has tried and failed to do so before.

The Brownites though should beware. This memo clearly states just how much the Downing Street inner-circle loves Blair, and if Brown so much as dares to reverse some of the Blairite revolution, however unlikely that is, then the shit is going to hit the fan. The suspicion will continue to be that Blair doesn't want Brown to be the next leader; after all, Brown himself has long decided that you can't believe a word the prime minister says. Today's Times poll which puts John "We hope to leave Afghanistan without so much as firing a single shot" Reid just one point behind in support for Labour if he rather than Brown was prime minister will increase their fantasies of somehow getting him to take the top job rather than Gordon. Whether Blair will be prepared to snipe from the sidelines once he has gone is also something to ponder.

It should be worth celebrating that Blair is finally definitely going. That he still wants to hang on for as long as he can, regardless of the damage to the party and regardless of the damage to the country, ought to highlight the vain arrogance and deluded self-indulgence of a man once feted as being different from the old political class. The Labour party should be at the barricades. Instead the majority are still enjoying the fading power they have, while they still can.

Related posts:
Big Stick Small Carrot - Ugly Rumours
BlairWatch - Your Chance to Plan Tony's Departure

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Blair intends to destroy the Labour Party before resigning, "Apres moi le deluge".
No great loss for the British working class.

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