Was the decision taken while on holiday?
The big unanswered question over-hanging British politics is when will Blair step down? When will he make his big announcement? When will the baton be passed on to Gordon Brown?
We have long taken the view that this will happen later rather than sooner and that he would serve most of his third term. Now we are not so sure and next week’s Labour conference, which Tony Blair is surely not looking forward to, might be the time for the news to be broken.
Rather than days of bitching and arguments with the party that has never really taken to him why not have a week of accolades by making an announcement about his departure time-table just as delegates are arriving in Brighton?
Adrian Hamilton in the Independent has been watching the Prime Minister closely and has noticed that things seem to be different about him since his return from holiday.
He notes ..But it’s the tone that has changed. And tone, as we have all come to learn in Tony’s case, is all. He proclaims debt relief and increased aid, he lectures on tougher measures to meet the new world of terror, he declares his ambition radically to reform public services. But none of it is said with much conviction, or at least with a sense of much concern about the result. His now-famous comment about the BBC to Rupert Murdoch seems par for the course. A careful politician wouldn’t have said it, knowing that it would be repeated in public. But, while he is mildly irritated that it has caused a small fuss, I don’t believe that Blair minds very much. It proves his American loyalties and the direction of his future. It’s not that he seems wearied of power or worn down by the strains it brings. Just the opposite. He appears positively refreshed by his unusually long holiday. It’s just that you feel that if it all ended tomorrow he wouldn’t mind too much, that out there in Barbados he reached some form of conclusion or contract with himself
Timing, of course, is everything and Tony Blair is a master of doing things at precisely the right moment to make maximum impact. It will be recalled that just a year ago, a couple of hours before the polls closed in the Hartlepool by-election at the end of the Labour conference, Blair made a big announcement. Then he gave news about going into hospital and that he would be stepping aside during his third term. If by any chance Labour had lost the by-election the media would have been on this news not on the result.
I have no idea what Tony Blair will do but Hamilton’s piece has set me thinking. There are several betting markets:-