December 18, 2005


Blair isolated as loyalist Prescott attacks reforms (EDDIE BARNES AND BRIAN BRADY, 12/18/05, Times of London)

TONY Blair suffered a crushing blow to his authority last night after his loyal deputy, John Prescott, broke ranks for the first time to issue a devastating attack on the Prime Minister's education reforms.

In what could prove a decisive moment in Blair's premiership, Prescott declared that the Prime Minister's plans to reform secondary schools in England would condemn working class children to a second class education. [...]

Blair and his Education Secretary Ruth Kelly are proposing a massive shake-up of secondary schools in England, which propose a new breed of self-governing 'trust' schools. New 'City Academies', part-funded by private cash, would also enjoy greater freedom over their admissions policies.

But Prescott last night became the first Cabinet minister to openly voice dissent, declaring: "I'm not totally convinced major reform is necessary."

The Clinton era, during which Democrats might have staked a permanent claim to the Third Way in America, ended when Al Gore gave his convention speech and returned the party to the 1970s. You can feel the Labour hardliners chomping at the same bit. Even the Tories may not be so incompetent as to blow the opportunity they're about to be handed.

MORE (via Mike Daley):
Betrayed by Blair (Daily Telegraph, 18/12/2005)

Join us in a little thought experiment. Suppose that Tony Blair had stuck to his guns in Brussels.

Imagine that he had argued, as he did six months ago, that since Britain was already a disproportionate net contributor to the EU, it was unreasonable for our bill to be increased yet further.

Hypothesise that, when his fellow heads of Government called his proposals "unacceptable", he had replied: "Fine: don't accept them, then", and that the talks had concluded without issue. Conjecture that, in consequence, the EU budget had dried up altogether. Who would have been the big losers?

The main victims would, of course, have been EU officials.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 18, 2005 8:40 AM

One supposes that this "third way" business as applied to B.J. Clinton depends on how selectively we remember the events of those dqays. The very first act of that administration was a failed attempr to destroy the corporate culture of the American Military.

This fiasco--a hard-left fiasco--was followed up by a failed attempt to socialize health care. We may also remember a self-immolating assault on the RKBA in the form of an "Assault" "Weapons" "Ban," patterned of the Holy Roman Empire, in that it in was not a ban, of assault weapons.

B.J. Clinton gained office partly because of Bush 41's foolish insult of his base by that "kinder, gentler" remark, and partly because of his having pulled off the only way a Democrat was a ghost of a chance: the Peanut-man flim-flam.

To pull off the Peanut Man flim-flam, they nominate a Southerner, pretend to be for "traditional" values, and run as far the the right as they dare by keeping their real base in the closet as much as possible. In is a winning gambit: is has worked before and it could work again, but for the Rovian genius of keeping the presure on so that the real Democrat base stays energized.

If anyone doubts how this big-lie approach works, let him consider how, to this day, B.J. is given credit for the fruits of the Contract With America.

Posted by: Louo Gots at December 18, 2005 9:15 AM

He signed them.

Posted by: oj at December 18, 2005 9:43 AM

Yeah, that "I'm not totally convinced major reform is necessary" is some harsh, brutal rhetoric.

The whole of the article is worth reading, to get a sense of how resolutely Second Way even one of Blair's closest associates is. Some highlights:

On the danger of having good private schools: "If you set up a school and it becomes a good school, the great danger is that's the place they want to go to."

On Cameron having gone to Eton: "It's the Eton mob isn't it? They used to fight their wars on the Eton playing fields. Now they win elections on the Eton playing fields. I always feel better fighting class anyway - bring the spirit back into the Labour Party."

I particularly like that "their wars" bit from the British Deputy Prime Minister.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 18, 2005 10:08 AM

... would condemn working class children to a second class education ...

That'd be a step up for our kids.

Posted by: erp at December 18, 2005 10:45 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the "Contract" involved Congressional rules, not anything Clinton was in a position to sign or object to.

Had he really been Third Way, he would have backed the reforms and shoved the Democratic barons to do the same. Instead, he hid during the campaign and suffered for it, to the point of impeachment when his activities (shall we say) caught up with him.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 18, 2005 3:09 PM