“Call it a day? Darling, that’s a long way off.”
Thus spake Cherie Blair yesterday, uttering words that no doubt sent Gordon Brown into fits of apoplexy. Having hogged the news recently with his leader-elect speech, he’s been knocked sideways by Tony Blair’s commitment to spending four more years as Prime Minister.
I think Blair’s looking more and more like an ageing boxer these days. His best fights behind him, he’s now destined to get older and fatter and less likely to go the distance, but insists on getting in the ring for one more shot at greatness. All this Reaganite talk of “four more years” is a bit distasteful too, seeing as he promised at last year’s conference to step down. OK, he never actually set a date, but the general consensus surely favours sooner rather than later. As an advocate of electoral reform, this just makes me pine even more for fixed term elections and a stipulation of maximum tenure for our premier. Even Russia has this concept enshrined in its constitution.
So we have a strange situation for the three main parties in the UK. Labour faces the prospect of an increasingly drawn out battle of wills; the Conservatives are looking at yet another bitter and divisive leadership contest and the Liberal Democrats have an internal whispering campaign against their leader’s ability.
In the meantime, democracy loses. We’ll have a government eating itself whole; a weak, divided and rudderless opposition and a third party consumed with self doubt.