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« Of sycophants and cheerleaders | Main | Jews must act now for Justice »
Sunday
Mar192006

It's Blair season, but can the men in suits do the deed?

Bugs Bunny, bless his good heart! is on holiday this week. As this Hollywood legend is our usually reliable source on hunting matters, it has not been possible to ascertain whether it is rabbit season or duck season. However, we do know one thing for sure: it is Blair season in the powerful Westminster corridors of Britain.

It would appear that the infamous Blair double-act, Tony and Ian, prime minister and police commissioner, have so incensed the political establishment by the reek of sleaze, corruption, abuse of power and downright dishonesty emanating from their high offices that it is not just the usual suspects, aka the awkward squad, who are calling for their heads.

blair.jpgThe so-called Labour prime minister, more rightwing than even Thatcher dared to be, has now got many ideological soulmates openly questioning his political judgement and suitability for office. And our presumably liberal top cop - initially billed as the man to reform the institutionally racist, sexist, power-mad culture of the boys in blue - has become the rightful target of potshots from the liberal-left.

Be that as it may, it remains to be seen whether the drawn daggers will be put to good Caesarean ianblair.jpguse by the men in suits, for that is the only way these two honourable men can be persuaded to go spend more time with their families - and consciences.

Less honourable men - such as the health service chief who resigned recently after revelations about the financial mess he had presided over - would have committed seppuku with little or no prompting.

The Blairs’ chargesheets

The Blairs’ charge sheets demand nothing less. Here is the leader of a party that is supposed to be on the left, if not socialist, openly, gleefully, enthusiastically supping with the rightwing devil with the shortest of spoons conceivable. Remember 1997, almost a lifetime ago now, when Labour won a landslide against the inept, corrupt and out-of-steam Conservatives; the elation, the collective sigh of relief of a nation weary of the dog-eat-dog, give-to-the-rich-and-shaft-the-poor dispensation incubated and nurtured by Thatcher and her ilk.

blair1.jpgRemember the promises of probity in power, the pre-election sniping by a youthful-looking Tony Blair, telegenic, articulate, inspirational, the concept of political morality incarnated, hitting a bullseye at every lapse by a grubby, grabbing coetrie of corrupt Conservatives and their placemen and financiers in government and boardroom. And then remember our rapturous applause from the gallery.

Now, square that, if you can, with what has happened in the practice of government. Where should we begin? The tobacco-fumed million pound donation from racing boss Bernie Ecclestone, which had to be returned; the Hinduja brothers’ money-for passport scandal, which saw the second resignation of Peter Mandelson from government; Blair’s personal intervention with the Romanian government to hand over their steel industry to the £125,000 Labour donor Lakshmi Mittal; the money-for-peerages scandal, in which three donors handed millions of pounds to Blair’s Labour party with the clear understanding that peerages would be forthcoming, has only just hit the fan - and it is this that has sent Teflon Tony reeling to the ropes.

Berlusconi cash

The fact that the party treasurer, Jack Dromey, was not aware of these donations adds to the stench of sleaze that dromey.jpghas attached itself to the party since Blair hijacked the Labour party and began governing in the interests of the rich and powerful. A livid Dromey (right), a good union man and previously a Blair supporter, has now started an internal party inquiry that will report in the next couple of days.

Add to this the recent revelations about the financial arrangements of the culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, whose husband David Mills perjured himself in return for Berlusconi cash - cash that was laundered with the supposed knowledge of the minister. She, of course, has been “cleared” by her boss; words like “integrity”, “resign” and “honourable thing to do” obviously do not exist in their lexicon.

But to some, these “financial irregularities” are misdemeanours when campared with the rabidly rightwing and patently undemocratic policies that have been pursued by this government - from the introduction of University tuition fees, the wholesale hocking of the public wealth to their friends and donors for private profit, the proscribing of legitimate protest, to their culpability in the mass murder by George Bush’s America of 100,000 Iraqis in the “war” and the tens of thousands killed since the “allied victory”.

Labour is bigger than one man

These are all hanging offences. Their cumulative effect has been to rob this prime minister of all moral authority to govern. It remains to seen what those with the wherewithal to force his departure, the Labour men in suits, will have that fabled “quiet talk” with him. Only the departure of the tragic figure that so catastrophically lost his way will enable the Labour party to regroup and renew itself. Labour is bigger and much more than one misguided figure, so taken in by the cult of celebrity and cash.

brown.jpgWho should replace him? There is already an heir apparent in Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer. He may not be a pretty boy, he may not be as leftwing as some of us may want, but he is a solid, dependable man who will command the respect of his party and country. He was part and parcel of the Blair machinery, but he has many good qualities and, frankly my dear, he will be much better than the present incumbent.

The namesake in blue, who blotted his copybook in a major way when he suggested that the man his officers murdered last July was a terrorist, should also be counting his days in office. With the slow, drip-drip of information from top echelons of the police, it is now in the public domain that people close to him knew hours after the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes that they had got the wrong man.

He compounded this avoidable gaffe by his criticism of media coverage of the gruesome murders of the ten-year-olds Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, saying that the media were institutionally racist and would not have given so much column inches and air time to the stories if they hand not been white. He may have had a point there, but it got somewhat muddled in the delivery. Was this really a heart-felt grievance, or was it an attempt to rally liberal support as he sensed the forces of the right circling overhead post-Menezes?

Gaffe-prone

Then he was discovered to have recorded conversations with the Attorney General and other establishment figures without their consent. Here again it is possible to see how a gaffe-prone top cop staring removal in the face could decide to stock up on some insurance for the future, a budding J Edgar Hoover, if you like.

This is the man who sided with Tony Blair’s attempt to extend the period “terrorist suspects” could be detained without charge to 90 days, who became actively involved in the political process by lobbying MPs opposed to the draconian measure.

paddick.jpgAs luck would have it, many of his one-time supporters have seen through the veneer. He would have to go. Would that it were sooner rather than later. Those who may still feel this “liberal” should stay could do worse than start putting a good word in for Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick, an openly gay cop who pioneered a scheme in Brixton whereby those found with small amounts of cannabis were cautioned rather than banged up. He is my man!