Thursday, May 05, 2005
The Blair Switch Projected
AKA, "What Can Brown Do For You?"
Apparently, an unpopular war can produce unpleasant consequences -- in the UK at least. Everyone was expecting a Tony Blair/Labour re-election, with a reduced majority.
No one was expecting this. While any win is to be celebrated (in the same way that any crash you walk away from is considered "good"), losing nearly 100 seats in the process is hardly cause for dancing in the streets.
Evidently, the revelations of the last week -- a 2003 report advising Blair that going to war with Iraq without UN sanction might be illegal -- raised the "trust" issue with UK voters. Immigration was also an issue that may have had an impact (a point that George W. Bush might take note of).
Of course, having a strong economy and a hapless opposition (as Bill Clinton and the aforementioned George W., respectively) can cover a multitude of sins.
Thus Tony Blair remains Prime Minister -- but not for long, I'd wager.
Expect Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer to be the new Labour leader within two years -- if not sooner. He is far more "Old Labour" than Blair, and is less likely to be as chummy with George W. Bush as the current occupant of 10 Downing Street.
Check in with those two fine British Andrews, Sullivan and Stuttaford, in the coming hours for much more cogent analysis. Oh, and the esteemed Mr. Jim Geraghty of The Kerry Spot (time for a new name, Jim?) will also be chiming in.