The Long Goodbye

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A smug Tony Blair enjoying another holiday from the troubles at home

Tony Blair is off on yet another taxpayer-funded jaunt to the Middle East but as one Israeli source commented, he is away from Britain because he is now so weak at home. This has been a bad week for him even by his recent standards.

His “peace mission” demonstrates how far he is from reality. At best he is seen as an irrelevant joke in a region that so badly needs some humour. At worst, he will inflame an already very dangerous situation. While he is away his spinners are busy trying to rubbish the police investigation into fraud, false accounting and corruption, and trying to move some of the blame across to Gordon Brown in a renewed bout of New Labour infighting.

One piece of really bad news is that the officer heading the police investigation has just been promoted in what looks like a deliberate Metropolitan Police gesture of defiance and independence. Its more complex than it seems at first glance because Home Secretary John Reid must have been made aware of the promotion before it was announced and must have agreed it. It’s difficult to rubbish an officer who has just had his dedication to duty and his effectiveness recognized by promotion.

A second piece of bad news is that New Labour pork barrel politics have just been uncovered by a study that shows the massive NHS cuts have been directed at areas that do not return New Labour MPs and sees a continuing movement of funding into areas with sitting New Labour MPs.

A third set of bad news is centred on the unfortunate Iraq adventure, where studies confirm, what many have long believed, that the invasion has made the terrorist threat to Britain much greater. Studies also show that Blair has failed to have any influence with the Bush administration. To round these conclusions out, an inquest into the death of a British soldier in Iraq have condemned the MOD and the Blair regime for committing troops without ensuring that they were adequately trained, equipped and supported.

Then there are continuing leaks about the police investigation. It seems that the Metropolitan Police have not been leaking information and that the leaks come from factions of New Labour. The current leaks suggest that, when Blair was interviewed by police, the interview was not under caution but was considered the first of a number of interviews that may involve arrest and caution. Some senior New Labour officials are now due to be interviewed again, this time under caution, as the net tightens. One New Labour supporter who lent money to the Party has called for Blair to be arrested and thrown into a police cell, as he was when the investigation looked into the loan that he had made.

As if that was not bad enough, the Bank of England is now saying that it believes the over-heated housing market is about to suffer a violent readjustment with a very hard landing. If this happens, the already rapidly rising tide of house repossessions will become a tsunami, engulfing thousands of families that have been encouraged to take out massive loans on the promise that the market will continue to head up vertically long into the future.

With no firm date announced for Blair to resign, this mess could continue well into 2007. This may be good news for Blair’s political opponents but it further damages Britain’s reputation, although there is no easy answer, with Gordon Brown expected to be crowned as Blair’s replacement. So far, Brown’s appeal has been based exclusively on his carefully cultivated reputation as a brilliant Chancellor. With the corruption investigations expanding and some grim economic forecasts, Brown may see his reputation shredded before he can become Prime Minister, triggering a period of infighting as other New Labour contenders struggle for the leadership.

JB

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