Tony Blair has stormed back from his cushy holiday in the Carribean to give an inerview to those tough inquisitors at the Times. Among other things, he says “I really think it is absurd for the people who say we must stop this continual speculation about the leadership to continue to speculate about it.”
This issue is going to covered more widely than a bleary-eyed Daily can face doing, but one angle that isn’t as widely talked about is the reaction on the backbenches. Anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes in the bars of the Westminster village will know that there are very few happy Labour MPs at the moment.
This writer slept in The Daily’s office last night and is enjoying a heavy bout of self-reflection as a result, but it did mean that I was woken to the soothing sounds of Martin Linton and Wayne David knocking seven shades of shite out of each other on Radio 5. That’s not new – Labour MPs have been having a pop at each other for ages. But just as we have written here and here, it’s not the usual Campaign Group MPs who are going after Blair. Wayne David is not a rebel, nor is he a radical. He was leader of the Party in Brussels for a while, and some people complained that he was parachuted into his seat in Wales. But he was certainly not a loyalist on the radio this morning.
Blair has often managed to stay ahead of tipping points in the past. We can only guess whether he will manage to do it again this time.
Far be it for this writer to editorialise, however… there is a group of people at the top of the party that are pretending it will business as usual with a new leader. Why? Blair is right about one thing. Most of us do want to change direction. What’s the point of changing leader otherwise? If the policies will be the same, why not just stick with Blair?