January 24, 2006

AS CLINTON SUCCEEDED REAGAN:

Blair's real task is to make Labour fit for opposition (Matthew d'Ancona, 25/01/2006, Daily Telegraph)

In modern politics, there are three tests of a great leader: first, he must stamp his authority on his party and make it durably electable; second, he must make his core policies so orthodox that the opposition party embraces them, or at least cannot reverse them; and, third, he must leave his own party in such a state that it can face a stretch on the opposition benches without disintegrating.

Margaret Thatcher achieved the first two objectives, winning three successive elections and forcing the opposition to transform itself from Michael Foot's rabble into New Labour. Ousted from office by her own party, she was unable to complete the third task: indeed, her fall condemned the Tories to more than a decade of savage in-fighting.

Tony Blair's aggregate of parliamentary majorities (179, 167, 66) exceeds even the Iron Lady's remarkable run (43, 143, 102). Last year, as he was preparing for the general election, he baffled his Cabinet colleagues by grumbling that the Tory party had failed to wake up to the New Labour era, and to adapt itself accordingly. Now, Blair exudes ill-concealed satisfaction that, at last, in David Cameron, he has an apprentice as well as a rival.


Tony Blair faces the same difficulty as Bill Clinton, in that his victories have been personal--his party is not reconciled to abandoning the Second Way.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 24, 2006 11:40 PM
Comments

Watching the first Prime Minister's questions after the election of Mr. Cameron, I was afraid he and Balir might kiss. I suspect a man-date to a local wine-bar followed.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 25, 2006 12:54 AM
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