June 27, 2006

The rats are deserting the ship

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5119880.stm

So Charles Clarke thinks Blair has 'lost his sense of purpose and direction' and Jim Knight (Labour minister) thinks Clarke is 'bitching' and bitter at being sacked. With such a hitherto sycophantic… err… loyal supporter as Charles Clarke deserting Blair so publically, can the end be far away for the Dear Leader now?

- 2 comments by 1 or more people

  1. George Eaton

    I think your analysis is off the mark. Clarke hasn't 'deserted' Blair at all, in fact he's done the polar opposite. You omit to cite his comments preceding your quote; namely 'The solution at the moment is for Tony Blair to stay on until 2008', additionally 'My preferred option has been and remains that Tony Blair stays as leader and prime minister to complete the execution of the manifesto'. Hardly the words of a man who wants to see Blair sink soon, Clarke is holding out hope that Blair can recover in power.

    The right–wing press and the Conservatives are spinning Clarke's remarks as an attack on Blair, as Blair's 'Howe moment'. Geoffrey Howe's resignation was of a completely different order. For a start he chose to resign willingly from the government, he couldn't stand to serve under Thatcher anymore. Clarke was not personally discontented with Blair's leadership as such when a minister. Secondly, he made his statement in the more formal setting of parliament knowing his words would carry more gravitas there, Clarke made no such decision. Thirdly, Howe explicitly called for Thatcher's immediate departure, Clarke wants Blair to stay on.

    For a more balanced and perceptive analysis from the BBC check out Nick Robinson's blog which sets that report to rights.

    Finally, i do think Clarke's round of interviews were significant, but significant for his explicit attack on the current home secretary John Reid. I don't think any former minister has publicly laid into a successor with such force for quite some time, certainly not since Labour's been in power. Your thoughts on this point would be more useful.

    27 Jun 2006, 23:33

  2. Luke Parks

    Hardly the words of a man who wants to see Blair sink soon, Clarke is holding out hope that Blair can recover in power.

    Assuming Clarke knew what he was doing, which part of his comments would you expect to be picked up by the press? The 'Tony's doing a wonderful job and should be PM forever' bit or the 'he's lost his touch' bit? It's clear he wanted that bit publically disseminated and may even have put in the bit about wanting the PM to stay until 2008 as a pretend proof of his loyalty. Either that or he thinks that his currently abandoned leadership ambitions may have revived by 2008. I certainly don't think that his saying this publically will be regarded by the Vicar as a very friendly act; hence the implications in the Number 10 press briefings that it's all sour grapes.

    The right–wing press and the Conservatives are spinning Clarke's remarks as an attack on Blair, as Blair's 'Howe moment'.

    Who cares what they think? I don't think it's a 'Geoffrey Howe moment,' but on the other hand, I'd be mightily surprised if the opposition weren't trying to claim it was.

    Finally, i do think Clarke's round of interviews were significant, but significant for his explicit attack on the current home secretary John Reid. I don't think any former minister has publicly laid into a successor with such force for quite some time, certainly not since Labour's been in power. Your thoughts on this point would be more useful.

    My thoughts are that as I absolutely despise John Reid and all his works, any damage Charles Clarke inflicts on him is a good thing. Having said that, I don't like Charles Clarke either so any self–inflicted damage done by these interviews isn't exactly a matter for grief on my part either. I agree with Diane Abbott when she said a few weeks ago on This Week that the Home Office will get their revenge on John Reid for saying they 'aren't fit for purpose' though.

    27 Jun 2006, 23:54


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