Can Blair take a lead from George Bush?
No doubt re-assured by George Bush’s re-election in the US Tony Blair was reported in the Independent at the weekend to have decided to face the Iraq issue head on in the coming campaign.
Tony Blair has decided to confront opponents of the Iraq war head on by placing the “war on terror” at the heart of Labour’s campaign in the coming general election. The Prime Minister has privately admitted that attempts to “move on” from Iraq are doomed to failure. He has ordered a new “twin-track” strategy for the election, expected this spring, based on the themes of “opportunity and security”. The Labour Party’s senior strategists plan to make a virtue of Mr Blair’s track record as a war leader at a time of increased terrorist threat. They were put on alert yesterday for the prospect of a visit to Britain in February by President George Bush. The White House confirmed a tour of European countries to build support for the war on terror.
Given that the latest polls show a 26% deficit to the question “Thinking about the build-up to the war in Iraq and everything that has happened since, was taking military action the right thing to do, or the wrong thing to do?” this could be a high-risk strategy which could further reinforce Labour defections to the Lib Dems. Even ICM polls, which survey the issue with the more Blair-friendly question ” From what you have seen or heard, do you think the war against Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein was justified or unjustified?, has shown a deficit for months.
The move to step up the volume on Iraq could also put Tony Blair at odds with Labour activists and his own parliamentary party.
On the plus side Blair has seen what happened in the US and he knows that the issue is still one that the Tories find difficult to make political capital out of.
On the betting side there’s a market that we have not featured before that might offer better value on Labour at the General Election. This is from the betting exchange Betdaq and has 1/4 on Labour winning under Blair.
The best on Labour alone is 1/6 with a bookmaker and 1/5 with a betting exchange.