Tony Blair’s departure date from British politics was announced a few
days ago, although few noticed it, disguised as it was in an innocuous
piece of puffery for the creation of June 27 as “Veterans Day.”

“Veterans Day” is a Gordon Brown initiative, part of his attempt to
create a form of left patriotism, organised around the notion of Britishness. I find it hard to believe that Labour will not take the
opportunity of the first such event to have a new man doing the
honours, rather than the tired, blasé and not much liked Tony Blair
trooping the colour. So my suspicion is that Blair will depart after
the passage of the new Education Bill – which wont happen till
April-May, given the delays in drafting it, and the immense amount of
horse-trading over detail that will be required – and mid-June.

If there were any doubts about Tony Blair’s going – the vain hope that
he might do a couple more years and try and overtake Thatcher’s record – they were put paid to by the Dunfermiline by-election, ably
covered by my good friend Charles Richardson in a previous bulletin.
Dunfermiline doesn’t tell us much about the likely fall-out in a
general election – in first-past-the-post voting (fptp hereafter) big
protest votes (ie the Liberal Democrats’ 10,000 vote swing) come in quite sharply
if there is even the slightest possibility that such tactics would
split the progressive vote and allow a Tory in on 35% of the vote.

Read the full story on the Crikey website.

Peter Fray

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