Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Deserting the field!

David Miliband's decision not to stand for the shadow cabinet can be seen in two ways. The first is that he couldn't stand the idea of working for his younger brother, and is showing himself a bad loser. The second is that he felt that the media would constantly be trying to find tensions between them, and indeed create them , and that by standing aside, he allows Ed to forge the party he wants.

I expect in reality it is a mix of both. He wouldn't want to do anything to wreck the chances of the party he has been brought up in at the next election, or to overshadow his brother. But there is also a touch of pique about it, as though now the other kids won't let him be captain, he's taking his ball home, and leaving it to lesser talents to play the match.

Oh yes, David Miliband was probably the best player in the recent competition, but that didn't make him the best person to lead the team. One thing I'm pleased about, is that on Monday he made the best speech of the conference, as it saves the media telling us he did, even if he hadn't. A little division in the team makes better entertainment than a coherent unit, all playing the same way.

I suspect that in the short term he will remain an MP, but I don't expect him to stand again, and he may leave beforehand. That will depend on whether he stays a focus of media attention, constantly being touted as a replacement if Ed doesn't get immediate results with his changes.

However, now that David has taken the decision to move on, it does leave the field clear for Ed to mould the shadow cabinet as he sees fit. He can weigh up the pros and cons of those elected by their fellow MP's, and construct a cabinet to take on the government.

All the other leadership candidates have put their name forward, and although Diane Abbott didn't get too many votes from her fellow MP's, that is entirely different to being elected to serve in a shadow cabinet position. In fact, to give her some credit, if she is willing to give up her high media profile, and no doubt decent financial benefits of This Week, to try and help Labour back into power, means that the campaign has probably changed her outlook a lot. Politics is now about doing something, and not just protesting.

So, as he walks off the pitch, a lonely figure, as the rest of his former teammates gather around the new captain, I wish David Miliband well in whatever he does. I hope he can become reconciled to what has happened, and play some role in the future, supporting the Labour Party, and brother Ed, in returning Labour to government at the next election.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

New Labour renewed?

New Labour is not dead, but it is seeking a new wardrobe. This isn't meant as a criticism of the direction that Ed Miliband looks like he wants to take the party in, but he shows an acceptance that the old politics of the Labour Party are gone forever.

Ed Miliband is not an actor like Tony Blair, or a PR man like David Cameron, and he isn't a barnstorming speaker. This may change as he gets used to making speeches that the media and the public are waiting upon, and as he inevitably grows into the role.

This speech was a good one, and considering the short time he had to put it together, well delivered. He started by paying tribute to his family, and the country that gave his family safe haven during World War II.

There were places where he did not pull any punches, and was as critical of what Labour had done in power, as he was of the government and what they intend to do. He was brutally honest about the reasons we lost the election, and "We must not blame the electorate for ending up with a government we don’t like, we should blame ourselves."

This is not comfortable to listen to, and those of you who are not Labour supporters, need to understand that this was the speech of a Labour Party leader, not a Conservative, or Liberal Democrat. In reality, this was the first thing he had to do, to tell us where we had gone wrong, on civil liberties, 90 days detention without trial, and most telling of all, Iraq.

It is easy for me to applaud him saying we were wrong to go in, as I was always against it, as indeed were most of the members. But, many senior members of the party did vote for it in 2003, but he felt that it needed to have a line drawn under it. But he also needed to tell us that we had lost touch with the public, and although this wasn't explicit, those people who had come to us in 1997, but had ebbed away. These issues had come up a lot during the leadership campaign, but hearing them from the leader, at the conference, gives them a legitimacy.

Ed Miliband was also condemning of the cuts and the direction that the coalition are making, but he was also right to say, we can't oppose them all. We would have made cuts if reelected, and need to be honest about that. He said that Alistair Darling's four year plan was the starting point, which possibly rules out any chance of Ed Balls being shadow Chancellor. It does leave a big door open for his brother to step in if he feels he can, otherwise, it is almost certain that the job will fall to Yvette Cooper.

The speech was always going to be scant in real detail, because it was always important for Mr Miliband to show he was his own man. His comment that he wouldn't be supporting irresponsible strikes against the cuts brought a cheer to the audience, even if it didn't seem to be welcomed by the unions. What this really means is not possible to tell at this stage, and no doubt David Cameron will try to draw him out in the first PMQ's in two weeks time.

The central theme, which everything tied into was the 'new generation,' and the new politics. This meant not opposing the cuts wholesale, especially when it came to welfare, though he was looking for, "a genuine plan to make sure that those in need are protected and that those who can work have the help they need to ensure they do so." In reality, however, he isn't actually moving away from the changes we were already making in government.

I liked the line about saying that the new generation wasn't defined by age, but by attitude. This was the only time when the speech got personal in regard to the leaders of the coalition parties. I think this was good, as personal attacks aren't a good way to go, if done too much. He spoke about policy and approach differences, which is what the public want to hear.

So, did Ed Miliband pass the first test I said he faced yesterday? I think he did, and it has at least put the government into the 'better not be complacent' mode. He did lay to rest the 'Red' Ed sobriquet, and as I said at the beginning, was a lot more 'New' Labour than many of us expected. It seems to me, that Ed Miliband is looking to renew 'New' Labour, but with a view to once again connecting with those outside the party. I don't mean this in a disparaging way, but he has learned quickly, that the project that Alistair Campbell, Gordon brown and Tony Blair started hasn't faded away, it just has undergone a battering recently, but still has a lot of life left, and is the way to oppose this government in a realistic manner.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Ed Miliband's tests

I am totally intrigued by the reaction to Ed Miliband's victory in the Labour leadership contest. He has only been in charge for 48 hours, yet has been subject to constant criticism from the right, and their press, since the first moment.

They are trying to portray him as a tool of the unions, because it was affiliates (not just union) votes that put him over the line. Yet, they have no evidence to back that up, just their own prejudices against unions, which sadly, just proves that their opinions of them haven't changed since the Tolpuddle Martyrs were transported in 1837.

The reality is, no one has any idea how good Ed Miliband will be as leader of the Labour Party. Tomorrow his first of a number of tests will come, which may give us an idea as to his mettle. He makes his first speech as leader, and will want to make an impression, but whether it is good, bad or indifferent, it will only be a taster. I was at his conference speech last year, and it was superb, and tomorrow's may well be a great one. But it won't actually prove anything until he has to do something.

The second test comes in the next week or so, after the shadow cabinet elections. he will then have to be very careful with the hand he is dealt, and that will test his abilities to be both strong, and diplomatic simultaneously. For instance, Ed Balls will finish high in the shadow poll, and his performance during the campaign has earned him a high position. With his background, Shadow Chancellor might seem ideal, yet, during the campaign Mr Balls' line was very Keynesian in opposing cuts. Whether right or wrong, if Ed Miliband wants to carry through his promise not to oppose all the cuts, having a treasury spokesman with that attitude would be playing into coalition hands. Therefore, a non economic post would probably be best.

Andy Burnham will also expect a promotion, though less troublesome from that point of view. Diane Abbott, if elected, would probably be an ideal at International Development. It is an area that would enable her to show she is capable of cabinet rank, and isn't just a protest voice. She would also be against the hitherto excellent Andrew Mitchell, and I think would enable her to have decent debates.

David Miliband, is the big problem, but not in the way that he would seek to sew division, or cause trouble for his brother. David is naturally hurt by the result, he expected to win, and although as he said today, that is something you have to prepare for, losing so narrowly to your own brother is a blow. As runner up, David would feel entitled to a big job, and already having been Foreign Secretary, that really only leaves the exchequer, as shadow Home Secretary would not be big enough. So, it's all down to whether David feels he could work closely with Ed, in the near future.

Ed Miliband's third test will be his first PMQ's, because although this on its own isn't conclusive, it will show his ability to act under pressure. If he does badly, it will put more on him, and if he doesn't improve quickly, the mutterings may begin. If he does brilliantly, it means he will need to be consistently good. Prime Minister's question's is pure theatre, but the only bit of parliament a lot of people will ever watch. So, if he does well in the other debates, but not there, he will be judged harshly.

The fourth, and biggest test in the next few weeks, is the spending review, and how he combats that. If he is perceived as having provided a sensible, and well argued case, for the stance he takes, then it will give him a lot of credit to take forward. If, however, he is seen as having failed to provide reasons why he opposes the coalitions policies, it may not be fatal, but would certainly ensure a long journey back for him. he really will have a short honeymoon period, but he needs to use whatever he gets well.

He will have a shadow on his shoulder throughout, as many people will quickly want to say, 'If only it had been David,' and this will either inspire, or defeat him. No doubt any right wingers reading this will automatically say he will fail. But as I stated at the beginning, we do not know at this stage, and can not. He may grow into a great leader of the party, and really have the coalition worried, or become the interim leader they are saying?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Being Ed?

So, the Labour Party has made its choice, and Ed Miliband is now the leader. The eventual results of this will not be shown for some time, but it would be a mistake either for Labour to see him as leading to the promised land, or the Tories or Liberal Democrats to write him off. You don't get to the place he is now, without talent and intelligence, and the ability to make your case, or stand your ground.

Those who know nothing about politics have christened him 'Red' Ed, which demonstrates a real lack of political knowledge. Ed Miliband is a typical social democrat which is not the same thing as being a socialist by any stretch of the imagination.

The public will now need to get to know him, and decide whether they like what they see and hear. That, of course, is the issue, and would be the same for any leader. However, he will have a baptism of fire on October 20th, as the coalition present the spending review. During the campaign he said we should have an alternative ready, and I hope he carries through on that. If he fails to do so, it would put him straight onto the back foot.

However, that is for the future, even if it is the very near future. There will be a lot of goodwill towards him, and he has a short honeymoon ahead of him. He needs to grab it, and present himself as a serious heavyweight politician, starting on tomorrow's Andrew Marr Show.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, people, led by the media, are prone to instant judgements, whereas it will take him time to create his public persona. Just as it did for David Cameron when he became Tory leader, after all, at the beginning of his campaign, his standing was at 5%.

There is also, in the end, a huge difference between being leader, and just a member, no matter how influential, or senior you may be. Leadership is a totally different beast. Think about how Nick Clegg said last week, how different it was being in government, to being in opposition, and how much harder it was.

Ed Miliband, will be a different person to how he was in cabinet or just an ordinary opposition shadow, he will now have to decide the direction, and the policy, and persuade others that that is the right way to go. That in the end will be the real test of his leadership. It's all very well leading the opposition to the government, but leading your own forces, is often more difficult, as honest Tories will admit, watching the way the right wing of the Conservative Party is constantly sniping against the leadership, and the coalition policies.

I give Ed my support, but it can't be unconditional, because that would be irresponsible. Labour needs to reposition itself to the centre-left, as the 'New' Labour agenda has been somewhat hijacked by the Cameron wing of the Tory Party. I don't think he will take us far to the left, but position us near the ground the Liberal Democrats tried to grab, with some success, before they went into government.

So if Ed does that, i will be happy enough, if he lurches too far left, I will be critical. So, best wishes and good luck Ed, and let's go to it!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A tribute to Harriet Harman

Polling for the Labour leadership election ends today, with the result being announced on Saturday afternoon. I will look forward to this, and even if, as looks likely, my candidate fails, it will still be an exciting event, as we look forward to the direction our new leader is aiming to take us.

The five candidates will line up, expectantly, all hoping they have defied the odds to come through, or at least, confirm their positions amongst the perty heirarchy. Of course, poor results, especially for Ed Balls, or either Miliband, would end their prospects of leading the party in the future, if things go badly over the next year or so.

However, there is one person missing from the field, and it is someone of whom, I never thought I would find myself saying this, and that is Harriet Harman. I would like to take this occasion to pay tribute to the way she has led the party through this difficult period, and defied many expectations.

Ever since circumstances decreed Harriet was to become acting leader of the party, she has done so with verve and humour. It proved a steep learning curve, as in her first PMQ's against Cameron, she chose to go on anonymity of rape suspevcts, an important personal issue for her. But since then, she has stepped aside from these issues, and chosen to attack the government on the policies they are enacting, as well as the occasional pointing out of discrepancies betwenn election statements and actions.

It was quickly evident that Cameron had a lot of respect for her, and also a liking, an aspect missing from his duals with Gordon Brown. This was demonstrated by the fulsome tribute he paid to her at her final PMQ's as acting leader. But, there had been a couple of occasions when he had asked why she wasn't running for the leadership. Even allowing for a bit of mischeif making on Mr Cameron's part, it became a genuine question as time went on.

Harriet's leadership has been exemplary, and showed what someone can do, once the opportunity arises. She has demonstrated that if she ever had become leader, she was more than up to the job, as I said, something I never thought I would say. She has also held the government to account, without a clear direction. The coalition have kept on saying that Labour haven't provided alternatives, yet, only a truly stupid government, would expect a party to be able to do that, when in the middle of a leadership election. Harriet, rightly, felt unable to speak on behalf of the party, other than to present alternative views we had campaigned on in the election, because she felt she did not have a mandate to do so. That position will change from Saturday!

So thank you harriet for all your efforts over recent months. I hope you will continue to serve the party in the combative way you have over the years, and continue to fight for the things important to you, even if we don't necessarily agree.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The last ten days!

We are now in the ten days of the Labour leadership contest, or eight if consider that voting ends on the 22nd, and the party is now going to need to look towards the post government world.

That is not to say we haven't been vigorously opposing those moves we believe the coalition to be mistaken in, but David Cameron is wrong when he says that none of the contenders have said what they would do. They all have, on many occasions, but as they have only been able to oppose their particular remits in the House (except for Diane Abbott, public statements on the policies of the coalition have been less frequent.

As Harriet Harman has only been the acting leader, she has rightly been reluctant to put forward alternative policies, other than those that were in the manifesto, because she felt she did not have a remit from the party to do so. Therefore, it has been difficult for the party to oppose the government as effectively as we would have liked, simply because we have not had a leader setting direction, whether we agree with it or not.

The media have been very disappointed in the contest, not because it hasn't been well conducted, or because the candidates are mostly putting forward their ideas for the future, but because it has been just like that. They wanted a bloodbath, and have consistently attempted to plant stories of this candidate or that briefing against another, or the differences between the Miliband brothers.

Yet, they do not take into account that this is a multi-contestant election, in which each is vying for the post. Of course there are differences, and even brothers are going to disagree on some areas, that's What happens when they are brought up to think for themselves, and not clones. But, the contest has been conducted in a an atmosphere of collegiate respect, and the media will no doubt attempt to build up antipathy between the winner, and the losers. I hope, without much expectation, that they are able to tell the difference between the natural post result disappointment, and any opposition to the new leader.

So, these last ten days are very important. Many members, and affiliates are still to cast their votes, and will be considering very carefully where to put their 1-5. It is not the job of this blog to state the case for a particular candidate, but urge you to just think carefully about the direction the party needs to go in.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

9/11 remenbered

For the last few days, out television stations have been showing various programmes related to the incidents of September 11th 2001. This day has become famous as 9/11 (due to way the Americans write their dates, and is one of the most iconic dates in modern history).

For our parents many can remember where they were when they heard the President Kennedy had been shot, and no doubt older readers will remember where they were when particular incidents occurred. These events are far and few between, but I would think that virtually all of you who read this, will remember where you were when you heard what was happening in New York that day.

In those days I was a lorry driver, delivering insulation materials around the east and south east of the country. I don't listen to much music radio, but I always enjoyed listening to Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley, otherwise known as Mark and Lard, on Radio One in the afternoons.

I was delivering in Suffolk, when news started to filter through around 13.45 that day. At first it was just being reported as an incident, as no one knew what was going on after the first 'plane flew into a tower. But once the second incident happened, it was obvious that this was an organised attack. The whole tone became very sombre, and the re were constant reports coming in on the evolving situation.

I finished my round, and returned to work to load up for the next day. Right next door was a timber company, and their driver's would be out for several days at a time, and had sleeper cabs. As you can imagine, it was the main topic of conversation, but no one really knew what was going on. One of the drivers from next door turned up, and he had put the television on in his cab, and so we flocked around it, watching as the story unfolded. I can't remember exactly, but I think we may even have been watching when the first tower collapsed.

So that evening I watched it on the TV when I got home, and then went out. It was strange that with a couple of friends, we had obtained tickets to a League Cup match that night between Colchester and Barnsley. Naturally there had been discussions as to whether the games that night should go ahead, and it was decided they should. As we walked up to the ground, one of our group was telling how he, and his colleagues, had been sent home as they worked at Canary Wharf, and there were concerns that buildings in Britain would also be targets.

The aftermath of 9/11 are well known, but are not for this, this is about that day, and the many lives that were lost. It is also to recognise the courage and sacrifice of the emergency services in New York who entered the burning buildings as those that could, fled. Many died that day, which is what makes the turning of it into a weapon for political, Iraq, and personal, Terry Jones, motives, sad and despicable.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

A Blighted man!

Today on the 9th September 1754 William Bligh, infamous captain of The Bounty was born. Possibly the greatest navigator in British naval history, whose reputation is forever tarnished by the events of 1787.

Yet, a knowledge of sea-faring life in the eighteenth century shows Bligh was no worse than any other captain, in the way he punished his crew. Indeed, he took very great interest in his crew's diet, ensuring fruit and vegetables were available, and that regular exercise was undertaken. He did have a reputation for failing to punish, when it was often felt he should, and was very reluctant to use the death penalty. His great weakness was he tended to favouritism, and set it on Fletcher Christian, who as we know led the mutineers.

The films give the impression that Bligh was overwhelmed by mutineers, but in fact he had the majority of the crew on his side, but as Bligh was already bound, they didn't put up resistance. The crew were then cast adrift, and all Bligh had was a sextant, and a pocket watch.

After losing a man in a skirmish on Tofua, in order to gain supplies, they sailed to Timor, a voyage of some 3,600 miles. Bligh, who had perfected his skills under Cook, amazingly got his men to Timor after 47 days, without losing another. A truly remarkable tale of seamanship and discipline. Not what you would expect of a tyrant.

Although he suffered more than his share of bad fortune during his career, being one of many captains whose crews mutinied in 1797, yet he had a very successful career. That same year, he lost only seven men on The Director, when they engaged three Dutch ships simultaneously. He was part of Nelson's fleet at Copenhagen, and became a vice-Admiral.

He became Governor of New South Wales in 1805, when the so called 'Rum rebellion' occurred. Yet Bligh's time was considered to be a good one, especially in his attitude and treatment of new settlers, who named many of their children after him.

William Bligh is probably only matched by Richard III is having an unfairly besmirched reputation, and his feat in sailing his small ship, loaded with eighteen men over three and a half thousand miles is possibly remarkable act of seamanship in naval history.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Bess is best!

Today we celebrate the birth of Elizabeth, Queen of England on September 7th 1533. After a turbulent forst twenty-five years of life, she eventually inherited the throne from her sister Mary in 1558.

Elizabeth was frighteningly clever, speaking something like five languages by the time she was five, and able to read and translate on her own, texts from and into French, Latin, Greek and Italian. But she also had grreat charm, and wit, and the writings of those who owed her no favour, confirm this.

She was the 'Virgin Queen' (an image carefully managed), 'Good Queen Bess'
who at the same time, with the help of her cheif spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham (former Recorder of Colchester, tuened England into the first modern police state. Yet despite this, she is considered to be a truly great monarch, and is one of those that all britiah people know of without hesitation.

Elizabeth reigned for forty-five years, and is to my mind the greatest monarch ever to sit on the throne of England or Britian. She helped restore England as a force in the world as it was known at the time, and her reputation is confirmed by her great speech at Tilbury in 1588, on the eve of the defeat of the Great Armada.

There were many attempts to bring her down, not least by Catholics who lamented the passing of Mary (called 'Bloody Mary' by subsequent protestant historians), who wished to restore the 'old faith' to England. Elizabeth tried to guide a middle way between the two, although eventually her protestrantism won through.

There have been three great portrayals of her over the years, Glenda Jackson (MP for Hampstead) and Helen Mirren on television, and Cate Blanchett on the big screen. Elizabeth is a symbol of all that Britain was, and how we like to portray ourselves in history. A resolute, determined nation, who will not bow to anybody, and like to do things our own way.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Alternative opportunity!

I find myself in the position today, of totally disagreeing with the Labour Party, even if I understand their reasoning. However, if they're smart, there is a get out clause for them, which I hope they will take.

This afternoon they will debating the second reading of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, and Labour seem to be saying they will not be supporting AV, because the Bill includes the measures to gerrymander the constituency boundaries in favour of the Conservatives.

I believe this move would be wrong for all sorts of reasons, both morally, we had support for AV in our manifesto, and had produced legislation in the previous parliament. Secondly, it would be politically corrupt, which is linked to pouint one, and take away our opportunities to attack the Liberal Democrats on accusations of political opportunism.

The Bill is likely to pass, so we would merely just open ourselves up to accusations of opportunism, which would be true. We should support the things we do, such as the principle of AV, but then vote against those we don't. We can support Bernard Jenkins on deleying the referendum so it is held separately to the local and devolved elections next May. But we can oppose his attempts to fix the referendum on the lines of the 1978 referendums on devolution.

There is however, an opportunity to embarrass the coalition, without compromising on our manifesto commitments. Green MP Caroline Lucas has put down an amendment calling for a PR alternative to be added to the ballot paper.

We could support this, thereby forcing the Liberal Democrats to either vote in favour of something what in their manifesto, or against it opening themselves up to all sorts of accusations on betraying their voters. This would, of course, still be opportunism on Labour's part, but it would just be that, and not a betrayal of a commitment.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Flattering to decieve?

A good result for England tonight, as they eventually overcome the Bulgarians by a 4-0 scoreline. But, it would be foolish to get carried away, despite the ITV commentators wanting to tell us it was a brilliant performance. It was adequate, with too many square balls, against a team that gave the ball away even more than we did.

I was pleased to see Jermaine Defoe do so well, and he looked dangerous all evening. Most of the other players had good spells, but then others when they were anonymous, James Milner, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Gareth Barry in the main. Apart from defoe the players who came out best were, in my opinion;

Joe Hart - always alert, and saved England from a number of embarrassing situations, not least Glen Johnson.
Jermaine Defoe - for obvious reasons.
Ashley Cole - always looked to get forward, and set up the first goal very well.
Matt Dawson and Phil Jagielka - worked well together, and put the foot in to make a number of important blocks.

England deserved to win, but 2-0 would probably have been a fairer reflection of the balance of play. Capello has got away with 4-4-2 in a qualifier, but on Tuesday the swiss will provide a stiffer test. Will he have the imagination to change if necessary?

England's ennui!

England play their first competitive match since the World Cup debacle this evening against Bulgaria. One of the things we are all eager to know is has Fabio Capello learned anything from the experience. In last month's friendly against Hungary there were optimistic signs, when he started and finished with a 4-2-3-1 formation. Unfortunately, he seems to have reverted to the failed 4-4-2 for tonight's game, at least at the beginning. The team is

Hart, G Johnson, A Cole, Gerrard, Dawson, Jagielka, Walcott, Barry, Defoe, Rooney, Milner

This distinct lack of imagination is a concern, as if we qualify, the finals will be even harder than the World Cup!

Capello should take this opportunity to bring in the fresh faces, and play Adam Johnson, Jack Wilshere etc and build for 2014 or even beyond.

Oh ballots!

There is the well known phrase, 'Vote early, vote often,' which was spotted on an election banner in the United States in March 1858. When I posted off my ballot this morning, I had certainly voted early, and indeed often. However, these were not multiple votes in one election, but in several sections. As well as the leadership, there were ballots for the National Policy Forum, the National Executive Committee and the youth candidates to the NPF.

Whatever mistakes Labour has made over the last few years in stopping listening to its members, and the realisation that this reconnection needs to be made, the structures already exist to enable that to happen. Labour does not need to radically reform itself to bring the membership back in, it just needs to switch its hearing aid back on.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Blair interview

One thing that comes across about Tony Blair, watching him being interviewed by Andrew Marr, is the almost total lack of regret. It is true that he has much to be proud of, in the way he led the government that reformed public services, and very much the way Britain feels about itself. A more tolerant and open nation is the positive legacy he leaves behind him.

However, there was no admittance that he got things wrong, especially in the invasion of Iraq. Andrew Marr is usually a very forensic interviewer, and challenged Blair on many subjects, but on this he seemed to let him get away with it. Indeed, it seemed to me, that Tony Blair was almost denying what he said in the speech to parliament in March 2003 regarding the forty-five minute claim.

This became even more of a worry when he spoke about Iran, and was more or less saying he would back military action there too. Even under his doctrine of intervention, which is against international law, though I am always reminded of Hedley Bull in these situations, in which aggression is first condemned, but is accepted if successful, invasion of iran without a specific UN resolution to do so would be illegal.

Andrew Marr was correct when he said that Tony Blair had indeed become a conservative, and that David Cameron would be applauding him. I won't go as far as saying he has left Labour, but his future vision would have taken Labour very much into the territory now occupied by the Cameron wing of the Tory party. I will now read his book, and let's see if he explains himself better there.

The Rivals

Tony Blair's memoir's have been published today, and the press are focussing on the relationship between Blair and Gordon Brown. What gets me, is the way the allegations Blair makes are being treated as revelations. Not only has the mnedia gleefully published stories over the years any news of rows within the Labour government, but even a cursory reading of Alistair Campbell's, or Peter Mandelson's books makes the comments by Blair fairly predictable.

I will pick up my copy this morning, and look forward to reading it. Whatever we may think of Tony Blair, and I was a supporter even if I was always against Iraq, it is good to know the profits are going to help injured soldiers. Blair was never going to win with this decision, but I think it is better to be thought cynical for doing something good, than cynical for not!