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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

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*