Sunday, May 08, 2005

Labour Party Out for Blood of Blairites

(Sunday Herald) - The electorate left Tony Blair in no doubt what they thought of him last week. But with only 35% of the vote, Labour secured a projected majority of 66. The Tories took 32%, yet Tony Blair won nearly twice as many seats. And they call this democracy?

In any event, Blair will not be starting any more wars in a hurry with his new precarious majority. No more riding shotgun for George Bush as they rid the world of bad guys. Blair, so long as he remains leader, will be looking over his shoulder at a depleted Labour backbench.

In some respects, this was similar to the voter revolt we saw in 1997 when the Tories were slaughtered by a country which had had enough of sleaze. Now in 2005, the country has rebelled against a political leader many believe has betrayed the spirit of 1997. Not just over Iraq, but over things like house arrest, tuition fees, ID cards, Alastair Campbell.

At least now we can wave goodbye to the pager clones. Those doggedly on-message New Labour MPs have gone the way of the device that used to deliver the "line to take". Many of the most ardent Blairites were massacred on Thursday. Labour is now more like the party it was in the 1970s. The stage is set for a conflict between a leader who has lost credibility and a party that wants its ball back.


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