Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sorry, still don't get it

Norm allows David Aaronovitch to respond to a question I posed to those who wish Blair to stay on as leader of the Labour party and Prime Minister:
"Shuggy's question assumed that support from the left for Blair's continuation in office on the basis of his foreign policy record made no sense. But that wasn't the only issue at stake in the recent goings-on. David Aaronovitch's article spells out what else."
And the "what else" that is at issue for Aaronovitch is the damage done to the Labour party by Brown's inept intervention:
"And for what was this all done? Mr Blair was going in 2007 anyway, and just about everybody knew it. So the consequence of the Watson attempted coup has been to pull the date forward by about three months, while wreaking fabulous damage on the Labour Party. It's like having your car crushed so that you can fit into the one available parking space; maybe it's better to wait a little."
Couple of things. First of all, while I can see this is an important strategic consideration, I can't see how this is a response to anything I wrote because the pieces I was responding to didn't mention this at all. HP, for example - as this rather clumsy and emotive piece shows - collapses all opposition to Blair into opposition to democracy in Iraq. You want Blair to go? You are John Pilger. To say I didn't particularly appreciate this involves no understatement.

Norm himself mentioned support for Blair's foreign policy and that his continuation in office annoys the sort of people he likes to see annoyed. Now, the foreign policy question remains the same and while I understand the other point, I don't think this is a very good reason to support Blair. The sort of people who I too like to see getting pissed off also oppose ID cards and detention without trial. Am I to drop my opposition to these because of this? This would be a rather narrow reason - to say no more than that. So we're left with this strategic consideration - which, if it's so important, why wasn't it mentioned earlier?

Not being in the loop like Mr Aaronovitch, I wouldn't know if Blair was certain to stand down next year but that wasn't my point. I'm not a Brown groupie, I don't give a shit about what Blair and Brown agreed over a plate of pasta in some London restaurant because that had nothing to do with democracy, so I don't endorse Brown's obvious sense of grievance - nor even understand it.

Rather, I was simply expressing my view that Blair's departure from office is welcome. That it should come under these circumstances is unfortunate but I think Blair's fans should take seriously the possibility that he has brought much of this on himself. Blair doesn't like the party he leads very much - and the feeling is obviously mutual.

This is a pretty fundamental relationship problem but it could be overlooked as long as Blair could deliver electoral success. But since this is obviously no longer the case, I can't see the point of these appeals to loyalty. I'm still left with the question: what do his supporters want him to stay on for? There'll be no more foreign policy initiates that he has any chance of following through. Domestically, one of the imperatives seems to be the desire to press ahead with the 'reform' agenda in education, which I believe to be fundamentally misguided.

So we're thrown back to this strategic consideration again - and I have to repeat the question, if this was so important, why wasn't it mentioned earlier? Because what I was hearing was not the language of pragmatism but that of faith. And as far as Blair is concerned, this I do not have.

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