by Stephen Tall on March 17, 2006
Both thegrauniad and PoliticalBetting.com have got rather excited by this week’s Economist leader, which they interpret as calling on Tony Blair to quit now. I’ve read the piece, and have to confess to not quite seeing it myself:
… Perhaps the most persistent problem for Mr Blair, however, is the growing perception that he is a lame-duck leader. He made it clear some time ago that he would not lead Labour into the next general election, which is due by mid-2010. Instead he is expected to hand over to his finance minister, Gordon Brown, at some point in the next four years. As time passes and Mr Blair suffers more setbacks — small or large — more MPs are calculating that his stock is falling while Mr Brown’s rises. Some will now look to local elections in May, when Labour is likely to suffer some painful losses, as a moment for Mr Blair to go. But would even that put an end to the government’s difficulties? Mr Brown, too, would face a dilemma over whether to push ahead with more public-service reform or appease Labour’s rebels.
All fair enough comment, for sure, but hardly a clarion resignation call – and a pale, pale shadow of Leo Amery’s ringing, Cromwellian injunction to Neville Chamberlain in 1940:
You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.
But perhaps we can leave that kind of sentiment and vernacular to the almost contemporary Bob Marshall Andrews.