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Linda Smith on Iraq and the weapons of mass destruction
I sort of sympathise with them a bit, looking for the weapons of mass destruction because I'm a bit like that with scissors. I just turn the house upside down, looking for them
Of course the difference is I know I have *got* some scissors.


It's been a lovely day in politics for those of us who give a damn about such things.

The Labour party is trying to force Tony Blair into declaring when he will leave office so that his successor has time to bed in before the next election, which is due about 2010/11. This turns out to be rather like getting a skittish but alpha cat into a carrier to take him to the vet for euthanising. So far one junior defence minister and eight PPSes (the lowest rung of government) had resigned to call on Tony Blair to give a timetable for them to be able to boot his arse out of the door.

This has led to claim and counter-claim of treachery, briefing and counter-briefing and lots of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic, while the fourth estate goes bananas.

In accepting Tony Blair and his coterie of privileged lawyer/media types as leaders in order to be elected, the Labour party took the thorn in its side and smiled. The trade-off for booting the leftwingers was that they got power. However, the wound has festered the more the party's big hitters were either corrupted, discovered to be ineffectual or picked off because they weren't shutting up when Tony said shut up. Now that boil has burst open and everyone can see the pus.

It started yesterday when someone leaked to the Mirror Blair's exit strategy, which basically consisted of a Royal tour around the UK, an appearance on Songs of Praise and Blue Peter and a load of glad-handing and zooming around in wankmobiles to be feted.

It referred to the UK's foreign policy as "the elephant in the room". No fucking kidding.

If Tony Blair had not publically inserted himself up George Bush's rectum like an unfortunate gerbil, lending Bush a measure of credibility where he deserved none, Blair would probably still be disliked but not anywhere near this much.

If he had not sacked the foreign secretary for making sceptical noises about the PHENOMENALLY STUPID idea of attacking Iran -- on the say-so of the White House, and I boil with fury every time I think of that -- then the idea of a farewell tour might not be so ridiculous.

If politics were media fandom it would be like this:

Two BNFs wish to come into possession of the biggest archive in their fandom, but only one person can be the domain owner. So BNF Gordy agrees, grumpily, to step down for the first couple of years, then take over later on.

Time passes and BNF Tony is very successful and everyone loves him and takes his pronouncements on keywords and warnings very seriously indeed. (Though they don't much like his new BFF, Georgie, who they see as a puritanical killjoy with an overkeenness to get into flamewars and slapfights with the crazy people. )

Alas, Tony does not consult the majority of fans on his changes to the archive, choosing instead to confide in a supar-sekrit cabal OMG, completely bypassing the checks and balances of parliamentary democracy. Oops.

Meanwhile the minions of BNF Gordy -- who is throwing the longest strop in living memory because he is not No 1 fan in fandom -- go about whispering that BNF Tony is not all that and a bag of chips and sockpuppet about on message boards saying that BNF Gordy would be way better so it's a good job that BNF Tone is stepping down. And OMG the lurkers support him in email!!!111eleventy!

BNF Tone -- who is setting fandom standards and modding his lists to remove those guilty of dissent because they're "just spoiling it for the rest of us" and similar jewels of unthink -- grows angry with this.

He sets his minions a-sockpuppeting in journals across the land about how BNF Gordy is an ungrateful, ungracious lumpen sod who couldn't get elected if his chief opponents were a conker, a three-week-old dog turd and a small vole called Nigel.

The minions decide that when Tony goes, they will find their own person to run the archive and bollocks to Gordon. Meanwhile BNF Tone gets more and more autocratic and unpopular, until his very verbal tics start to make previously supportive people wish to drown him in a vat of donkey piss.

And so on, for a long, long time.


It's hard to say whether this is going to lead to a Thatcher-like defenestration for Mister Tony -- but two cheers for that from this part of East London if they do manage to boot him out -- but it's certainly not great for the country for the party of government to be distracted by this kind of childish bollocks for the next year. Tony doesn't want to go until 2007 but that means that the 2007 local elections are likely to be a disaster for Labour. It won't give the successor much of a chance to put his house in order before facing the Tories and David Cameron -- who is basically a clone of Tony Blair anyway.

Allow me to express my opinion of the whole situation through the medium of song:
Running the world by Jarvis Cocker.
Possibly the least worksafe piece of music I have ever posted, but the lyrics are bitter and just a little too dark to be funny and there's a word in there that some people feel is very not-nice. So to bring your fluffy back, the new single by the Scissor Sisters: I Don't Feel Like Dancing


Meanwhile, the country at large, sighs, eats its baked beans on toast, squeezes its zits, drinks its tea and starts thinking about more important things such as the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

Speaking of which: Holy shit -- *Go Northern Ireland!*

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
kirbyfest
Sep. 7th, 2006 12:47 am (UTC)
I just adore your brain.
cazling
Sep. 7th, 2006 01:00 am (UTC)
Oh, my arse, it is laughed off.

This turns out to be rather like getting a skittish but alpha cat into a carrier to take him to the vet for euthanising.

Exactly. Exactly. It's all like a panto, isn't it? Or a drawning room farce.
incorruptibles
Sep. 7th, 2006 01:04 am (UTC)
If Blair had not publically inserted himself up George Bush's rectum like an unfortunate gerbil, lending Bush a measure of credibility where he deserved none, Blair would probably still be disliked but not anywhere near this much.

Great sentence! Replace "Blair" with "the Democrats" and this sentence also applies quite well to U.S. politics. Well, you'd have to change "himself" to "themselves" (and pluralize "gerbil"), but other than that it's a great fit.

I'm still trying to figure out what a nation does, exactly, when there's no opposition party...
curiouswombat
Sep. 7th, 2006 07:38 am (UTC)
but other than that it's a great fit.

Which just goes to prove what a big rectum GWB has - to fit that many gerbils in there just proves that he is all rectum...which surprises exactly no-one!
se_parsons
Sep. 7th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)
Ah, you beat me to a very similar comment.
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 10th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)
I'm still trying to figure out what a nation does, exactly, when there's no opposition party...

Despairs? Dresses up in sparkly clothing and goes out dancing? I don't know. I am usually doing the former but wish I was doing the latter
jonquil
Sep. 7th, 2006 01:14 am (UTC)
God, I love your writing.

In particular, this: "He sets his minions a-sockpuppeting in journals across the land about how BNF Gordy is an ungrateful, ungracious lumpen sod who couldn't get elected if his chief opponents were a conker, a three-week-old dog turd and a small vole called Nigel."

will be a joy forever.
leiliaxf
Sep. 7th, 2006 01:14 am (UTC)
Linda Smith on Iraq and the weapons of mass destruction
I sort of sympathise with them a bit, looking for the weapons of mass destruction because I'm a bit like that with scissors. I just turn the house upside down, looking for them
Of course the difference is I know I have *got* some scissors.


Ooooh. Good one.

Also---LOVE YOUR BRAIN.
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 10th, 2006 12:17 am (UTC)
I recommend getting hold of any radio shows you can of Linda Smith. She was desperately funny
qowf
Sep. 7th, 2006 01:30 am (UTC)
Marry me. I can cook. American southern cooking. We will eat green beans cooked for too many hours with salt-back pork until they are soggy and delicious. At night, you will speak of politics and I will smile and say, "Yes, dear."

Sounds like a plan, yes?
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 10th, 2006 12:05 am (UTC)
Very much so. I hope you're still getting better by the way
qowf
Sep. 10th, 2006 02:51 pm (UTC)
Today is better. Apparently, this was not viral because the antibiotics are having a huge impact on how I feel. Once again, it is proved that better living is achieved through chemistry.

Lord, there's a lot I want to talk to you about--life in general, really. Hope you're well.
cofax7
Sep. 7th, 2006 02:02 am (UTC)
... and a small vole called Nigel.


Oh, your brain, it is the very very best.

Pity the poor BNFs. Heh.
(Deleted comment)
thehornedgod
Sep. 7th, 2006 12:19 pm (UTC)
Re: I saw the news today, oh boy
Wasn't that late gnome sexpot Robin Cook? Shiver at those bedroom eyes.

infinitemonkeys
Sep. 10th, 2006 12:16 am (UTC)
Re: I saw the news today, oh boy
Actually, I think you're right about Cook being booted for not toeing the US line but I was talking about Jack Straw.

It's a sad, sad day when you're forced to confess how very, very much you miss Robin Cook. He would caused such delicious trouble over both UK foreign policy and the Tony and Gordon show
thehornedgod
Sep. 10th, 2006 12:22 am (UTC)
Re: I saw the news today, oh boy
Ah, my confusion. I'd forgotten Jack Straw got reshuffled. I knew him when he was scaring crows. Shame he never really got to grips with that whole quest for the brain thing.
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 10th, 2006 12:10 am (UTC)
Re: I saw the news today, oh boy
I don't know if Georgie gave the final push. Apparently Jack Straw got on *famously* with Condy -- indeed there were some shenanigans over a bed on a plane back from a summit which may or may not have been printed, I can't remember -- so it wasn't a personality clash, it was just that Jack Straw had the quaint notion that as foreign secretary he would be involved in foreign policy decisions. People asked him about Iraq and Iran and he was distinctly less than ra-ra-ra American hegemony, so he was replaced with Margaret Beckett, who looks like Princess Anne but hasn't got her brains. Oh dear.

Pleasingly, this has pushed Jack Straw into the Brown camp.

You know, I may ETA this post because I've just worked out that in the politics-as-fandom metaphor, Georgie isn't another BNF, he's like the dumb showrunner who keeps making the daft decisions and Tony is his fannish avatar.

Oh, the bile, it keeps flowing. I don't loath ~Tone like I did Thatcher but I am getting close to it.
snacky
Sep. 7th, 2006 02:16 am (UTC)
There is a politics wank: only it's called politcal_wank.

Good snacky helps!
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 10th, 2006 12:11 am (UTC)
Muchos gracias a la Snaqui. Alas, it's about people I've not heard of.

Well, except Ann Coulter. We've heard of her. Please keep her.
veejane
Sep. 7th, 2006 03:52 am (UTC)
You know, the internet has been so educational for me. How else could I possibly understand British politics without reference to BNF Tony!

The wank is thick in the air this week, everywhere. Smells like elections.

I mean, it could be worse; I am reading about the final collapse of the Spanish republican government, as the war began in 1936 -- at least BNF Tony is not trying to placate bolsheviks who have, in the course of an hour, whipped themselves up from unionizing to mandatory spaying and neutering of the landed classes. (And those were the allies!)
infinitemonkeys
Sep. 10th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC)
I have the exact same book on my to-be-read pile but I can't decide to read the Beevor first or go via Orwell. Please let me know what it's like if you get the chance.

The Labour party is getting somewhat free with the internecine bloodletting though

ropo
Sep. 7th, 2006 04:06 am (UTC)
You're still the best one.
muridae_x
Sep. 7th, 2006 09:03 am (UTC)
And OMG the lurkers support him in email!!!111eleventy!

Yes. That's it exactly. Current Labour Party politics in a nutshell. And the image of trying to shove that skittish cat into its basket to take to the vets rings so true that it's going to stay with me.

You have to laugh. It's healthier than crying about it all.
thehornedgod
Sep. 7th, 2006 12:18 pm (UTC)
Brilliant. Cheers for the tunes, I love the Jarvis song, which I'd somehow contrived not to hear til now.
vivwiley
Sep. 7th, 2006 12:46 pm (UTC)
::(hearts) you::

Brilliant analysis and OMG! love the fandom analogies.

unfortunate gerbil indeed. Snort.

se_parsons
Sep. 7th, 2006 03:53 pm (UTC)
I was SO hoping you'd post on this. When I read the newsfeeds with the "set a time for stepping down" news in it, I thought of you immediately.
(Deleted comment)
marakara
Sep. 8th, 2006 12:07 am (UTC)
Brilliant, as always
Can I ask an "I'm an American so I don't quite get this" question - could Blair stay until his term is over? I know the system usually has the Prime Minister stepping down early but could he stay?

Take Care
Mara

infinitemonkeys
Sep. 8th, 2006 12:29 am (UTC)
Re: Brilliant, as always
Truthfully, it's totally byzantine and I don't understand it fully but I think it goes something like this. We don't directly elect our prime minister as you elect your president because he is not the head of state; that's the queen.

Instead, each constituency elects a member of parliament from one of the three main parties (or Plaid Cymru, the Scottish Nationalists or the Irish parties) and the party which gets the most seats wins control of the board.

The leader of the party with the most seats, in this case Tony Blair, becomes the prime minister, as well as the MP for his area. So in a sense while you're voting for your local MP, you're also voting for the party which will rule the country, hence lots of tactical voting in marginals.

The trouble comes when the parliamentary party no longer likes its leader. That's what happened to Thatcher in 1990 -- her party believed she had become autocratic and out-of-touch and was about to lose them the 1992 election.

In this case if the leader does not agree to budge, someone in the party, usually a no-hoper, called a "stalking horse", challenges them to a leadership battle which allows the real contenders to assess how much support the failing leader has. If the failing leader's support really is slipping away, the big candidates enter the race.

In 1990 Thatcher was stalked by Sir Anthony Mayer, who showed that she was vulnerable. She was then challenged for the leadership by a real contender, who did not win a majority of the vote but won enough to secure a second round of voting. Thatcher realised she could not win an outright vote and resigned.

The danger of this is that the party splits between loyalists and those who back the challenger. It has taken the Tories from 1990 until now to reunite the party.

Labour had hoped to avoid that by arranging that the chancellor, Gordon Brown, (the second most powerful man in the government) would take over smoothly at some point in this parliament. Alas, the party is divided into factions lining up behind both men even before this. Tony Blair tried to cling onto power for as long as possible while making incredibly unpopular decisions with his party, so the Brownites are trying to force him out as soon as possible.

Obviously this is tricky given that the man just won an election last year, but he said he would go this parliament, so they have ammunition. Because you theoretically vote for *the party* not the man (though in practice we are voting for the man, if we're honest) this is not an antidemocratic coup.

Tony Blair used to be Labour's biggest electoral asset now he's their biggest electoral liability so they want him out of the way. Also, his own party hate him. They only put up with him because the country used to like him.

Did that make sense? Feel free to ask if you have any more questions and I'll try to dredge up more of what I remember from Government 101 *g*
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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