The 11/4 on Blair going this year looks a good bet?
A week before May’s local elections I suggested that the then PR problems facing the party of John Prescott and Charles Clarke and the immigrant criminals being released row would actually be quite useful to Tony Blair as he sought to hang on to his job.
The piece noted “the beauty of the current situation from Luckyâ€™s (Tony’s) point of view is that when Labour is licking its wounds after the elections a week tomorrow – others will also get the blame. And the more the blame can be spread the less vulnerable he is.”
And so it has proved. A line that keeps on coming out is that Labour just got unlucky in the days before the local elections and if it had not been for the Clarke row and the Prescott revelations the party would have done better and Labour might now even be leading in the polls. This is just bunkum.
Looking at the trend in all the polls this year it’s clear that what really did for Tony Blair was the cash for peerages row and all the associated side stories.
For after taking a battering during the first two months of Cameron’s Tory leadership Labour began to recover in March. ICM had Blair’s party three points and then four points ahead in two surveys in a week. At the time the big story for poll watchers was that the Cameron surge appeared to have run out of steam.
Things started to change when the “loans for peerages” story broke for it was this that really seemed to impact on public opinion turning March’s Labour leads into deficits in April even before the Clarke and Prescott news broke.
The tipping point was the revelation by the party treasurer, Jack Dromey, that even he had not been told about the loans that party was using to fight the 2005 election.
That Dromey was married to a Brownite minister did not affect the coverage. This is a story that won’t go away for, unless Blair is totally exonerated, the time-bomb ticking under the his premiership, surely, is the ongoing police investigation which is now focusing, according to today’s reports, on the loan documentation.
The main hope for Lucky Tony is that other parties and politicians will get smeared as well. But this week’s news that the police went to court to get information about Lib Dem finances shows the extent of the police investigation and should be worrying for Number 10. For ultimately it was Blair who must have signed off the proposed honours.
The 11/4 on Blair going in 2006 looks very attractive.