November 13, 2005


Why Blair's biggest rivals are coming to his rescue (Rachel Sylvester, 14/11/2005, Daily Telegraph)

[B]oth the Chancellor and the most likely next Tory leader have decided that it is in their own long-term political interests to save Mr Blair from his own party, for now at least. Mr Brown is paranoid about following in John Major's footsteps and inheriting a divided and rebellious party from a brutally executed leader. He understands, as he showed last week, that a Commons vote can be a symbolic show of loyalty. On the public services - particularly education - he is desperate to prove that he is not the "roadblock" to change. Although he might not be able to swing all his people behind the Prime Minister in future, any more than he was able to last week, he will not deploy them against Mr Blair. As one Cabinet minister put it: "Gordon's on his best behaviour. He knows it would be fatal to him to be seen to be doing anything disloyal."

Mr Cameron - if, as expected, he wins the Tory leadership contest - is just as unlikely to stick the knife into Mr Blair. As he tours the country wooing party activists, one of his main pitches has been that the Conservatives need to stop opposing the Government for the sake of it. Ending what he calls the parliamentary "Punch and Judy show" would, he likes to say, demonstrate that his party has changed.

He has already made clear that he supports most of the proposals in the Government's education White Paper: his own manifesto promises "more choice, competition and local autonomy" for schools. He is also in favour of private-sector involvement in the NHS and would be hard pressed to argue that incapacity benefit should be retained in its current form. Even if he disagrees with some details, it would be difficult for him to oppose the Government's plans without looking (as he put it at his launch) "opportunistic and insincere". Mr Blair will find it hard to hang on for long if he becomes dependent, in the Commons, on the votes of Tory MPs. The Prime Minister might, however, be given a temporary stay of execution by the two men who least wish him well.

Both Mr Brown and Mr Cameron describe themselves, in different ways, as the "heirs to Blair".

Can Mr. Cameron be a Tory and be as smart and public spirited as this suggests?

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 13, 2005 9:54 PM

If only our own "loyal" opposition could take a page from Cameron's playbook.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at November 14, 2005 12:59 AM

We don't have a loyal opposition, we have a fifth column.

Posted by: erp at November 14, 2005 9:17 AM
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