Coup … or … How To Kill The Leader Without Anyone Getting Blamed
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BLAIR: THE BODY POLITIC – LEFT BLEEDING
Was it a very British coup? Safety in numbers? Gently does it? Not too much blood. Splattered thinly?
A polite little letter or two. All very civilised. See the page on the Blair coup letter writers here.
Since I am NOT, repeat NOT under anyone’s control, influence or guidance I’m telling it here, AS I SEE IT
Yes, I know that Mr Blair has accepted his fate gracefully – more gracefully than lesser mortals would have – but we should never forget what went on in order to end his great premiership in any way possible, ignominious or not. Thus, I’ll write it as it seemed to me then, prompting my launching this blog. Nothing that has happened since has led me to think that this is inaccurate.
“GET HIM NOW – WHILE HE’S WEAK”
Mr Brown and/or his followers grabbed their moment last summer to leap on the prime minister and finish the job they’d been doing on him for the previous year or two. While parliament was in the summer recess, plenty of people who should have been around to DEFEND Mr Blair were away, or pretended they were. Excuses galore, some valid, some not, for failing to support him. SHAMEFUL!
Read The Guardian’s report of 7th September, 2006 – and THINK about it!
What exactly could have “forced” the prime minister to do ANYTHING? He’d just been re-elected 18 months before. Was it blackmail? I know it’s politics and a dirty business, but I DON’T LIKE THIS one bit.
[Pic: Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown leaving the back entrance of Downing Street. Photograph: Bruno Vincent/Getty]
Excerpt from The Guardian:
An all-out power struggle between the chancellor and the prime minister, culminating with allegations of blackmail by Tony Blair and a ferocious shouting match between the two men, appeared last night to have forced Mr Blair to publicly declare as early as today that he will not be prime minister this time next year.
That may not be enough for Gordon Brown, who is understood to have demanded that Mr Blair quit by Christmas, with an effective joint premiership until a new leader is anointed by the party.
Here is the INFAMOUS and shameful letter from Tom Watson MP to the Prime Minister
The Labour Party has been my life since I was 15 years old. I have served the Party at every conceivable level and your own leadership since 1994 in a dozen different capacities, latterly as MP for West Bromwich East, a Government Whip, and as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence. My loyalty to you personally, as well as to the Party and the values we stand for, has been absolute and unswerving. The struggle to fashion the kind of credible, convincing, effective Labour Party you now lead has been the preoccupation of my adult years.
My pride in what our government has achieved under your leadership is beyond expression. We have revolutionised the lives and expectations of millions of our citizens, combining social justice with prosperity in a way which is unprecedented in the history of our country. Your leadership has been visionary and remarkable. The party and the nation owes you an incalculable debt.
So it is with the greatest sadness that I have to say that I no longer believe that your remaining in office is in the interest of either the party or the country. How and why this situation has arisen no longer matters. I share the view of the overwhelming majority of the party and the country that the only way the Party and the Government can renew itself in office is urgently to renew its leadership.
For the sake of the legacy you have long said is the only one that matters – a renewed Labour party re-elected at the next general election – I urge you to reconsider your determination to remain in office.
As you know, I had a conversation with the Chief Whip last night, in which she asked me to withdraw my support from the 2001 intake’s letter calling on you to stand down, or my position would be untenable as a government minister. I have reflected on this overnight. I cannot withdraw my name, and therefore I accept her judgement.
I do not believe that statements so far give us the clarity necessary to progress over the next year. Nor do I believe that newspaper reports of potential dates which may have appeared since I signed the 2001 intake’s letter can provide the clarity the party and the country so desperately need.
It is with the greatest regret, therefore, that I must leave the Government.
Tom Watson MP
As Tony Benn was being interviewed on BBC news 24, Tom Watson resigned. “Who?”, I hear you ask. Yes, exactly. Now Watson is in Brown’s government.
Tony Blair’s Reply to Tom Watson Thursday, 7 Sep 2006 09:47
Thank you for your letter.
I am sorry it has come to this.
You did a good job as a minister and I thank you for it.
I know you have worked hard for the Labour party throughout your life.
I also accept entirely that you are entitled to your view about the best way for the Labour Party to renew in office.
But as you will know from the long years of opposition we have endured, Labour only came to power after putting behind it the divisive behaviour of the past and uniting around a modern vision for both country and party.
The way to renew and win again now is not to engage in a divisive – and since I have already made it clear I will be leaving before the election – totally unnecessary attempt to unseat the party leader, less than 15 months after our historic third term victory; but through setting out the policy agenda for the future combined with a stable and orderly transition that leaves ample time for the next leader to bed in.
We are three years from the next election.
We have a strong policy platform.
There is no fundamental ideological divide in the Labour party for the first time in 100 years of history.
For the first time ever, we have the prospect not just of two but three successive full terms.
To put all this at risk in this way is simply not a sensible, mature or intelligent way of conducting ourselves if we want to remain a governing party.
So I am sorry we are in disagreement.
This reply from the Prime Minister did not stop the plotters.The Chancellor then had a meeting with the PM at which, reportedly, the PM was incandescent at Brown’s lukewarm support of him and of Brown’s evident failure to stamp down on the plotters, who were known to be Brown backers.Despite Brown’s impatience to get into the top job, he and the plotters were wrong and should never have forced the PM’s hand. And the cabinet ministers who turned and looked the other way were equally complicit. It seems you can count the Prime Minister’s true friends in his cabinet on one hand.Coup article from the BBC websiteExcerpt:
One minister and four government aides are among 17 normally loyal Labour MPs who have written to Tony Blair urging him to quit. The MPs – including junior defence minister Tom Watson – say they want an end to uncertainty. Senior minister Hilary Armstrong later said Mr Blair would be gone by the time of the 2007 Labour conference. Forty-nine Labour MPs have so far signed a statement saying they are satisfied with a 12-month timetable.
But others – including a group of Labour MPs elected in 2005 who are thought to be drafting their own letter to Mr Blair – want him to quit immediately.
Ms Armstrong, who is close to Mr Blair and is a former chief whip, is the first member of the prime minister’s inner circle to go so far in statements about his future.
The social exclusion minister said the 12-month timescale was a realistic date”.
“The prime minister has promised that there will be a smooth and orderly transition,” she said.
“The perceived wisdom, although I might have advised something differently, is that he acknowledges that by conference next year, there’ll be a new leader in place.”
Mr Blair last week rejected calls to use this month’s Labour Party conference to name a timetable for his departure.
But his words appeared to fuel uncertainty, with normally loyal Labour backbenchers calling on him to name an exit date.
Blair should only step down if an immediate General Election is called
A senior Cabinet source confirmed the letter from 17 Labour MPs, all of whom entered Parliament in 2001, calling on Mr Blair to go had been sent to – and seen – by Downing Street.
The group includes West Bromwich East MP and junior defence minister Tom Watson.
Ministerial aides Khalid Mahmood, Wayne David, Ian Lucas and David Wright also signed the letter.
The Cabinet source said the letter was likely to convince Mr Blair he needed to say more about his departure plans.
Blairite MPs Chris Bryant and Sion Simon are understood to have co-ordinated the letter from the 2001 intake.
But Mr Bryant refused to comment on its contents, telling BBC Wales that if he had sent the prime minister a private letter it would be “a private matter”.
Effectively, we have the timetable Tony Blair has refused to confirm
A second letter from a group of Labour MPs elected last year has also been drafted but not yet been sent.
Bristol MP Kerry McCarthy said she had not yet signed the 2005 intake letter but agreed the party’s troubles had to be resolved soon, with Mr Blair leaving by the spring.
Another 2005 MP, who did not want to be named, said Mr Blair was politically “wounded” and should go immediately.
But Sir Jeremy Beecham, chairman of Labour’s national executive committee, said the MPs’ letters were misconceived.
Mr Blair was “conscious of what needs to be done” and would ensure a new leader was in place by the time of next year’s Labour conference, said Sir Jeremy.
The day began with minister David Miliband telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he agreed with the “conventional wisdom” that Mr Blair would step down in 12 months – the most senior minister at that point to name a departure date.
Meanwhile, a leaked memo suggesting a farewell tour to promote the “triumph of Blairism” was published by the Daily Mirror.
The memo, reportedly drawn up by a group of his allies, including his pollster Philip Gould, says: “He needs to go with the crowd wanting more.”
Downing Street says neither Mr Blair nor any senior No 10 staff have seen the memo.
The reports come as a Populus poll suggested the Conservatives would have a strong lead over Labour whether Mr Blair stayed on, or was replaced by Gordon Brown or John Reid.
The poll of 1,504 people also suggested 30% of Labour voters and 51% of the general public wanted Mr Blair to step down this year.