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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, February 27, 2005

Blair and the elephant

Gordon Brown, the next PM?

Blair is election liability, warn Labour aides

Gaby Hinsliff, political editor
Sunday February 27, 2005
The Observer

Tony Blair risks becoming an electoral liability, according to government ministers as the Prime Minister faces fresh accusations that his 'presidential style' is starting to affect Labour's support.

With private Labour polling revealing that one of the most important sections of the electorate - married mothers - are deserting the Prime Minister and the Tories closing the polling gap, Blairite figures are urging a change in Labour's faltering election campaign.

Officials said the Prime Minister would now adopt a less 'presidential' style, appearing in tandem with cabinet colleagues, to head off sniping about his personal unpopularity.

Chancellor Gordon Brown will also return to centre-stage tomorrow, amid calls from senior party figures for him to take a bigger role as the party struggles to refocus its efforts on bread-and-butter economic issues like maternity leave for new mothers, skills and training.

The shift follows the identification of surprising patches of electoral resistance by Philip Gould, the party's polling adviser. MPs were warned by Alan Milburn last week that Labour has fallen by six points among married women with children - despite its commitments on child care.

The news follows concern that Blair's personal ratings are clouding the picture. One loyalist cabinet minister has told friends that Blair is no longer seen as an asset, particularly among traditional working class supporters.

Another Blairite minister admitted he had been taken aback by the hostility to the leader on the doorsteps: 'There are people shouting "if you get rid of Blair we'll vote Labour", although I think a lot of that is bluff.'

No, it isn't. The war is his burden and his support for it and Bush alienates many, many people. These people may stay home on election day, refusing to vote for the Tories or Blair.

The smart move would be for Blair to step down and let Brown run as party leader. People like Labour policies more or less, but hate Blair's war. Especially mothers.

His loyalists have been pretending for two years that this elephant is not in the room. Well, it's in the room and not going anywhere. Either Blair is forced to step down, because the numbers get worse, or he wins and loses most of his majority. Something has to give with the unpopularity of the war in the UK.

posted by Steve @ 2:29:00 AM

2:29:00 AM

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