Confirmed by a Lib Dem I respect – Paddy: ‘Clegg is the New Blair’

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  • And now for a bit of true fiction –

    Comment at end

    24th April 2010

    As I suggested the other day, at my Big Fight post, Nick Clegg may well be the new “clunking fist”. I suppose it’s fair to say that some are wondering just which of the contenders Mr Blair is cheering on.

    Lord Ashdown at Truro Cathedral, in his constituency. ‘It fundamentally changes politics if the old unholy alliance that has run this country is broken up,’ he says

    I have a lot of time for Paddy Ashdown. I think he was by far the best leader the Liberal Democrats have had since their inception.

    But I’m afraid I do NOT believe him on this. Asked –

    Tony Blair or Gordon Brown?

    He said “Neither”.

    Well, as a former leader he has a party to please. And we know how tough that can be. Apart from that he can’t be seen to be too close to a “war criminal”, can he?

    Paddy Ashdown and Tony Blair worked behind the scenes from 1994 to, from my understanding, 1998/9 to try to fashion an anti-Conservative coalition/merger. Gordon Brown put a stop to it.

    But I know that Mr Ashdown prefers Mr Blair, HUGELY. And why wouldn’t he? The pair spent many years, not months, years  from 1994 until well after Blair’s fist famous victory of 1997 trying to fashion a deal designed to coalesce the anti-Tory vote.  Referred to by Ashdown as “the love that dared not speak its name”, Mr Blair was ‘OMF’ – Our Mutual Friend. Ashdown knows WHO exactly flummoxed the whole plan when he found out about it – a certain Gordon Brown.

    Go here to read more from Ashdown’s excellent Diaries for evidence of Mr Ashdown’s high regard for Tony Blair.

    The present leader of his nonsensical and politically ignorant party described the Iraq invasion as  “illegal” the other night in Bristol.  Populism dressed as high-mindedness. And another leadership contender Chris Huhne has called Tony Blair a “war criminal”. I understand that even Dame Shirley Williams and that Lib Dem doyenne of Radio 4 humour Sandi Toxteth also used this insulting phrase against one of the greatest leaders it has been our privilege to have had running our presently confused state.

    Let me spell it out to these simpletons as plainly as I can:

    Tony Blair is NOT a criminal of any sort until he has been tried and proven to be. Remember that little rule, oh ye great liberal freedom fighters? The one you apply to foreign ne’er-do-wells who often use our system against us? Innocent until proven guilty.

    Blair will never be found guilty of any such crime. Proof and even charges of war crimes requires more than the Lib Dems seem to think. Something to do with intent to wipe out/a policy of ethnic cleansing … to name but two. Forget the ultimate lack of WMD or even the lack of a second UN resolution. FORGET them. ALL of them. They are of no consequence in the decision-making. They are not reasons to charge a leader or former leader of this country with war crimes.

    Times article excerpts follow –

    Paddy Ashdown – so close to his ultimate political prize

    ‘Paddy Ashdown so nearly did it. In 1997, days before the election, he had secret meetings with Tony Blair to discuss a coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Now, 13 years later, his dream could come true. His protégé, Nick Clegg, may finally sign the deal that almost gave the present Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon a seat at the Cabinet table.

    […]

    ‘The man who knows more than anyone what the Lib Dem leader must be feeling cannot help seeing parallels between Clegg and Blair. “Almost the first quality I spotted in Nick was his ability to speak in the language of ordinary people. He is very comfortable in his own skin and relaxed. Like Blair, he has the ability to make you feel that you are the centre of his attention.”

    Both men are charming public school boys, with reforming instincts and high-flying Roman Catholic wives. “There’s the same sense of optimism,” Lord Ashdown says. “The big problem with Blair was that there wasn’t a sheet anchor to keep the ship head-on into the storm when the winds blew. Clegg knows exactly where he is. If you asked the public who is the ‘heir to Blair’, with all that Blair has been revealed to have been, I think they would say Cameron. Clegg is more like people thought Blair was in 1997.”

    […]

    ‘For Lord Ashdown there must be a sense of unfinished business in the speculation about Lib-Lab pacts. Does he regret not closing the deal with Mr Blair in 1997? “That is one of the ‘what ifs’. It is very different today from 1997. Then we were dealing with a discredited Tory Government, a Labour Party that was very popular and a potential prime minister, Tony Blair, who seemed to be in many things a liberal, though not on civil liberties. Some of us may have been misled. Now it is much more like 1983. I don’t think Gordon Brown is like Michael Foot, exactly, but he has all the attributes of a condemned man taking the last steps up the scaffold, grabbing policy, trying to find a way out.

    “His commitment to electoral reform — which he opposed vehemently before — is not about a progressive partnership for the future, it’s about someone trying to save their skin at the last moment. All that ‘I agree with Nick’ stuff — it’s extraordinary what he will do.” What if Labour gets the fewest votes and the most seats? “We all know that because of the appalling electoral system there could be a difficult judgment to be made, but that is for after the election. We would prefer to work with the party that has the best mandate.”

    […]

    ‘Perhaps the Blairites could join forces with Clegg? “The Blairites are excited because Gordon is getting his comeuppance, they would love Gordon to be paid back for all the misery he caused Tony. I think it’s probable that Labour will go down to one of its hardest political defeats of all time.

    “If that happens, then there’ll be a knockdown fight for the heart and soul of the Labour Party. My guess is that the Left will take charge. I don’t know what is the outcome of that.

    “There are all sorts of potential consequences. The other side of the election is a different country.”’

    You’re right about that, Paddy. A different country, indeed.


    Meanwhile James Kirkup at the Telegraph/Torygraph wonders – while offering a few scenarios“Is it possible Labour is staring oblivion in the face?”

    Well, they would say and like that, wouldn’t they?

    Suggesting that Labour may be preparing for oblivion, Kirkup says  –

    “Mr Clegg’s demands for saving Labour could include Mr Brown’s head on a platter. Far from dismissing the idea, senior party members are again talking about if, when and how Mr Brown should be removed from office. Almost inevitably, the idea of a decapitation is most enthusiastically embraced and debated by acolytes of Tony Blair.

    One Blairite scenario goes something like this: a delegation led by Alistair Darling, Harriet Harman and Jack Straw tells Mr Brown that for the good of the party, he must make way for Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary.” (More here.)




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    One Response to “Confirmed by a Lib Dem I respect – Paddy: ‘Clegg is the New Blair’”

    1. The reason Oliver Kamm will vote Labour, regardless of the “feeble” & “incompetent” Brown « Tony Blair Says:

      […] (See my reports on Ashdown’s & Blair’s “Great Coalition/Merger Plan” here and a very recent post – “Paddy says Clegg is the New Blair”.) […]

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