Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 7, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

BLAIR'S SNARE....Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have always had an uneasy relationship, but it looks like it's now in complete meltdown:

An all-out power struggle between the chancellor and the prime minister, culminating with allegations of blackmail by Tony Blair and a ferocious shouting match between the two men, appeared last night to have forced Mr Blair to publicly declare as early as today that he will not be prime minister this time next year.

....In probably the most astonishing day in the annals of New Labour, the use of the word blackmail to describe Mr Brown's actions over the past few days by Downing Street staff was authorised by Mr Blair, and reflected his view that Mr Brown is orchestrating a coup against him.

Really, British politics is a lot more fun than ours. A coup! Shouting matches! Threats of blackmail! That's what politics ought to be about.

Kevin Drum 1:01 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Jolly Good Show!!

Posted by: troglodyte on September 7, 2006 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

Blow the man down, I say!

Posted by: Boorring on September 7, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

Could you imagine Bush trying to get through something like PM's Question Time?

I can't even think of a good simile, or punch line. I suppose in about 30 seconds he'd be calling somebody a mother-effing pussy, and rushing the gallery.

Posted by: Garamond12 on September 7, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

In probably the most astonishing day in the annals of New Labour, the use of the word blackmail to describe Mr Brown's actions over the past few days by Downing Street staff was authorised by Mr Blair, and reflected his view that Mr Brown is orchestrating a coup against him.

Gordon Brown is probably a Ned Lamont suppporter. *Snicker* Just as Lieberman did the right thing and got punished for it by the liberals and left wing bloggers, Blair did the right thing in supporting the liberation of Iraq and is being punished for it by the leftists in Great Britain. Leftists will never learn how to stand up to the tyranny of fascism and Naziism. If liberals had been in power during the civil war, the slave masters would've won and blacks would still be in slavery today. Liberals would've been whining about why emancipating the slaves was the right thing to do and instead would've cut and run on freeing the slaves.

Posted by: Al on September 7, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, but...

Shouldn't the ship go down with the captain.

Until a new leader is chosen. How long can they drag that out?

Posted by: exasperanto on September 7, 2006 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

yeah, it will be fun to watch Ted Kennedy throwing his shoes at George Allen, and the latter calling the Massachussets senator a macaca.

Posted by: gregor on September 7, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

It's a race to see which of the two leading anglo countries can oust its leading criminal first.

Posted by: Disputo on September 7, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

Dunno much about british politics, but I hope whoever comes after Blair will be forced to prove (s)he isn't Bush's poodle. Yet another bit of isolation and pressure put on the chimp if Yo Blair is gone.

Posted by: jimBOB on September 7, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by Al: Leftists will never learn how to stand up to the tyranny of fascism and Naziism. If liberals had been in power during the civil war, the slave masters would've won and blacks would still be in slavery today.

Al, you are aware that liberals were in power during both the Civil War and World War II, right? In the 1860s, Lincoln's Republicans were the liberal party and the Democrats were generally the conservative party (of course it was less clear cut then today). And of course FDR was President during World War II.

You might want to brush up on grade school history, it comes in handy even when arguing ludicrous anachronisms.

Posted by: Ricky Barnhart on September 7, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Can't resist a miniseries recommendation:

"House of Cards", written by an ex-Tory around the time of Thatcher's downfall. Somewhere between drama and black comedy. Delicious evil.

Amazon has it

Posted by: Bruce the Canuck on September 7, 2006 at 2:26 AM | PERMALINK

The thing I don't get about British politics is that once all the shouting is over, the government still does what it wants and the public just rolls over and takes it.

At least we don't waste our time getting vexed about it. Project Runway is having a marathon for christ's sake!

Posted by: enozinho on September 7, 2006 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

Disputo -- getting rid of the criminal --

I'll just say that, topically, Blair is the Quisling of UK-US relations and the (Norwego-)British are about to throw the 'astard out.

The UK can always win any race with the US because there are no term limits (elections can be held any time) and more than 2 parties. If you don't have a majority, you can't rule. With 3, 4 or 5 parties that is manageable. As you get to German proportions, less so. With more parties, Italy has had (?)45 governments in 60 years (Feel free to correct, I can't be bothered to check).

The UK are finally getting to it despite the UK leading the US in cynicism of government propaganda the last 5 years.

P.M. question time parllel to the more diverse, critical and expressive UK press may have something to do with it. US free press is becoming a myth, and the internet is no replacement as there is no critical self-correction, it's below radar of institutions, and most contributors gravitate to like bias.

Unless we recontrol our governments to the wishes of the people, we have no control where we are going.

No more non-voter contributions! Upper limit to any party donations (voters only). Very clear declarations of private money on their adverts, paper, etc.

Government of the people, for the people, by the people!

Posted by: notthere on September 7, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

Meh. I like what George Galloway said about Tony Blair and Gordon Brown earlier this summer: "Two cheeks of the same arse."

Posted by: Alden Weer on September 7, 2006 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

Really, British politics is a lot more fun than ours.

I don't know why Blair had this fantasy of a graceful exit. This isn't a fixed-term presidency we're talking about: the way that British PMs depart from Number 10 is invariably nasty, brutish and short. An election defeat, a sudden resignation, a knife in the back.

Blair can't brush this one off as disgruntled old Labour types: the junior minister and PPSes who resigned are of the new crop, working their way up the ministerial ladder. Their careers have just begun, and they don't want them ending in 2009 with a Tory victory. They see Brown as much a part of an outgoing generation, but at least an opportunity for the young guns to get past Blair.

Most British elections may be held in the spring, but it's the winter, from the conference season till Christmas, where the politicking happens.

In short: Blair's not going to be PM by the end of the year.

Posted by: ahem on September 7, 2006 at 4:11 AM | PERMALINK

Could you imagine Bush trying to get through something like PM's Question Time?

Are you kidding? They'd maneuver Joementum into the speakership for the opposition and he'd ask "How, sir, has your faith guided you in these troubled times?" etc...

Posted by: Boronx on September 7, 2006 at 4:23 AM | PERMALINK

This is bearing an eerie resemblance to Margaret Thatcher's downfall, with Iraq replacing the Poll Tax and Europe.

The Labour Party Conference is towards the end of this month;Blair will be gone before it (75%), during it(15%),or shortly after (10%).

Posted by: Alan on September 7, 2006 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

How would a Blair resignation before November affect the mid-terms? Could the resignation of one of Bush's two remaining signigicant supporters on the Iraq war (Blair and Australia's Howard) damage the Republicans any more?

Posted by: Tim (UK) on September 7, 2006 at 5:58 AM | PERMALINK

here's another history lesson for the ignorant wingnut troll, al. the only Republican't president to win a major was was Abe Lincoln.
I know you can read, look it up.

Posted by: merlallen on September 7, 2006 at 6:18 AM | PERMALINK

Jack Straw, presumably speaking for Mr Tony, floated a May 2007 departure date on the Today programme, which Mr Tony will probably confirm today.

That's not going to work. Why? Local and assembly elections in May 2007, in which Labour will most likely get slaughtered if Blair hasn't gone. It won't be enough that he's heading out the door, and Brown obviously sees this as a poison chalice deal.

I don't think he'll be gone by the conference, or the American mid-terms, but December? Like I said, people still remember Thatcher's ouster.

Posted by: ahem on September 7, 2006 at 6:25 AM | PERMALINK

"Really, British politics is a lot more fun than ours. A coup! Shouting matches! Threats of blackmail! That's what politics ought to be about."

Actually, British politics is more "fun" to the average person, but if you're a politics junkie/geek, it's a lot less fun. Basically, if the government has a half decent majority and any party discipline at all(party discipline is much stricter than the US), it will get what it wants eventually. Even though the British political system has as many arcane rules and conventions as the US system, they don't really matter all that much, partly because we don't have a written constitution and partly because many of the rules are ceremonial rather than substantial. In the US, laws are made or broken on obscure points of procedure. In the UK it's just brute force of votes.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow on September 7, 2006 at 6:26 AM | PERMALINK

As there is not a dimes worth of difference between blair and brown on Iraq or any other issue Al's post (as all his post) shows that he has no idea what he is talking about.

If not for rove talking points he wouldn't know what to post.

Posted by: klyde on September 7, 2006 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Already had a coup here. In November, 2000, by a 5-4 vote.

Posted by: CN on September 7, 2006 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

This is the problem with the "technocratic" leadership that Brad DeLong wishes for. The technocrats - which Tony Blair certainly considers himself - get (or maybe are born) arrogant.

I mean, Everybody Hates Tony. If he was truly committed to democracy, he'd say "oh well, I gotta go, whatever I'm doing isn't resonating".

But he thinks The People Are Wrong And I Am Right. So he sticks around like a barnicle on a boat.

Posted by: doesn't matter on September 7, 2006 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

What's the record? I figure Blair is going for 25 years.

Posted by: B on September 7, 2006 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

You don't wound the king. Brown wants to have a chance to win the next election - and Blair is killing them. His own party and the vast majority of Brits can't stand the guy.

Brown has to finish him off now, if he waits he'll look ineffectual and weak. Blair wouldn't take the nice hint - he'll only go if he's destroyed. So force a vote at the party Congress and destroy him. Blair leaves Brown no other options.

And yes, I have no idea why so many Americans think Blair is so great. He's a two faced, sleazy pol who just happens to have one of those nifty British accents.

Also, good point on the Supreme Court's coup in 2000.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on September 7, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Japanese parliament style brawling in the HR would really be fun to watch. C-Span could even create a new channel called C-Span Extreme that would cover nothing but brawls that happen in national, state, and local legislative bodies around the country.

Posted by: loop on September 7, 2006 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Tony Blair has his seat already bought and paid for on the board of directors of the Carlyle Group, making lots of loot from war-profiteering. What does he care?

In a just world, he would be on trial as a war criminal.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 7, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Is it the Phillipines that routinely has fistfights among politicians? I apologize if I'm slandering/crediting the wrong country.

Posted by: Allen K. on September 7, 2006 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

No, it isn't. CSpan's late-night broadcasts of the British Parliament's proceedings are an unfortunate "inspiration" for people like Gingrich.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on September 7, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

It's funny how closely this situation mirrors the Canadian one a few years ago when the unpopular Prime Minister, Jean Cretien was unwillingly forced to announce his retirement due to an uprising around the then Minister of Finance (the Canadian version of the Chancellor of the Exchequor), Paul Martin.
As always the British do it better than the us polite Canadians, the most public dis in that dispute was when Mr. Martin found out he was fired as Minister on the radio.

Posted by: Colin Crolly on September 7, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin wrote: "A coup! Shouting matches! Threats of blackmail!"

What, the blatant theft of two presidential elections in a row by the Bush Crime Family wasn't enough "fun" for you?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 7, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

I've been reading Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post since the attack on Lebanon, and let me tell you, their politics is like a police show - the President is being investigated for raping at least 3 women, the Minister of Justice had to resign for forcing himself on a female soldier, Olmert is being investigated for giving jobs to his pals while Minister of Finance, I believe, and the Israeli Chief of Staff went to sell his mutual funds just after he found out there was going to be a war.

Then there's all the killings of Palestinians, Israeli soldiers being convicted of beating up Palestinians, etc.

Posted by: Michele on September 7, 2006 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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