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May 31, 2008


David Duff

Yes, yes, Oliver, but who was his boss during those ten years?


The problem with Stephen Pollard's criticism is it's impossible to know how serious it is, for he would talk about any Labour leader in that kind of language - as he once noted the left "in any recognisable form is the enemy". Blair was 'lame' and 'morally bankrupt', to quote just one description. I imagine he had harsh words for Callaghan, but his archives don't turn anything up except a demand to 'bring him back'.


Brown is largely toast on account of his being unable to keep up the pretence of competence that Blair did. Certainly, his autocratic behaviour at HMT did damage, but so did Blair's effective removal of decision making from the Cabinet to his clique in Downing Street - as if the triad of power in this country did not already amount to the tyranny of the Commons. Attempts by Elizabeth Filkin to highlight problems resulted in her removal and the emasculation of her office.

With an unwritten constitution based on trust, tradition and inertia, both men, and their ugly and petty personality issue, should shoulder the responsibility equally for the loss of trust and accountability in our polity that will take a long time to rebuild. We shall now need a written constitution to stop such behaviour being repeated. Madison's would do nicely.


It's a bit pointless criticising Blair and absolving Brown, we are where we are...

As someone who recognises the huge achievements of the last 10 years, I still think the current failings of the Labour party rest on:
1. An inability to ever, ever make the case for meaningful social democratic politics, a continual knee-jerk response to the right-wing press.
2. The increasingly cynical "tactical" politics and last minute grabbing of Tory policies, which with the more recent inheritance tax reform, aviation policy, 10p rate, non-dom taxes, is just embarrassing, it really is. No-one, no-one is impressed by this stuff.
3. The publicity of the "restaurant deal" and lack of a meaningful leadership election; I think Blair has to take responsibility for that. Running the nation like a soap opera...?
4. Failure to develop a decent cadre of young politicians. I don't know if it was relatively any worse than other Government's but Blair seemed to go through cabinet ministers very quickly. I know you can only work with what's there; but I just can't believe someone like Ed Balls is popular with anyone. That month where he was on every newsfeed saying how great Brown was, he just looked like a bug-eyed hideous bully. Who else? Blears, Kelly? I know it's a cheap shot, but it's true that in the last days of Major these Tories *looked* like troglydytes, like a very strange collection of humans. And that's what the Labour front bench look like these days; Brown included. They look like the charicatures cartoonists make of them.

Mark D

"He also did more than anyone to undermine Tony Blair as Labour leader."

So Brown at least did *something* worthwhile.

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