Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Blair's Last Opening

There were 29 new Bills unveiled in the Queen's Speech today, thus showing that whatever else he's lost (his job, his credibility, his war with Iraq, his war with Gordon Brown) Tony Blair hasn't lost his appetite for legislating. David Cameron criticised the new agenda - and Tony Blair's last Queen's Speech, for pandering to the 'politics of fear' but that rather misses the point. Tony Blair's entire administration has been about fear. Fear of the evil Tories, fear of the truth, fear of terrorists, fear of his own backbenchers..... If he can't cater to the politics of fear, then what can he do? I suppose there is one fear left...the fear of life after Number 10. What on earth does a former Prime Minister do? Margaret Thatcher has spent the years since being ousted going slowly madder and madder, pondering too much on treachery ('with a smile on its face') and casting her long, spectral shadow over all of her successors bar the present one. John Major, after a disastrous innings himself, went to watch the cricket at Lord's, joined the boards of companies influenced by his friend George Bush (Snr.) and is now the richest former PM around. Perhaps, after all, there is a good reason to stay on as GWB's best friend....

As for the ceremony itself, it creaked of archaism and anachronism, and yet it still manages to raise the level of humdrum, adversarial politics to a slightly different plane for a while. The Opening of Parliament might almost convince us that there is a grandeur to politics, until of course we get to the raw emotion of the Commons exchanges. It is here that the Leader of the Opposition has the job of rubbishing the policies he has only just heard. Many Opposition leaders prove unequal to the task, and today, apparently, David Cameron faced a particularly feisty Tony Blair. Blair spent much time, perhaps conscious of the thinness of his legislative agenda, conjuring up the image of his successor as a prize fighter demolishing David Cameron. Nick Assinder's account of the exchange on the BBC site has Cameron effectively mullahed, but both Brown and Reid convinced they are the ones being referred to by Blair as his successor. Well, maybe only a little bit in Reid's case - we all know he prefers office to challenging and losing leadership elections.

More on the Tony Blair's last law making initiatives later, when I've had time to absorb them in all their glory.

2 comments:

C H Daly said...

Hold your horses let’s get this straight: new kid on the block comes up against seasoned pro- new kid gets, essentially public embarrassed. I hope that everyone saw the exchange in full to just see classic Cameron. The only way he could have been any less humiliated was if he were left hanging by his underwear from the Millennium Eye.

Blair took him to the cleaners: not even the Tory PR machine will be able to turn that around. The ceremony was, agreed, incredibly outdated and antiquated but in some respects quite touching and endearing!

Chris Wotton said...

Couldn't have put it better myself...