Saturday, April 15, 2006

Blair fatigue grips Britain

According to The Washington Post, in an interesting article in Sunday's edition, "Blair fatigue has become the dominant narrative in British politics."

There are other narratives, to be sure, including the rise of Blair's rival and presumptive successor, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, and of the new and dynamic Conservative Leader David Cameron; scandal upon scandal; and, of course, Iraq. But, simply, it seems that the British have grown tired of a prime minister who, not so long ago, "could do no wrong" (in the words of one pollster). His approval ratings are lower even than his pal Bush's at "just over 30 percent".

To be fair, Blair has had his accomplishments, some of them quite significant. However: "It is [his] passionate -- some say disastrously stubborn -- leadership on Iraq that is the one issue that continues to weigh him down. There is a widespread perception that the prime minister exaggerated, or even fabricated, the dangers of weapons of mass destruction in taking the country to a war that has no end in sight." Like Bush, Blair's fortunes are wrapped up in the ongoing debacle that is the Iraq War and Occupation. Whatever else he's done, Iraq will likely constitute the bulk of his legacy.

When will he step down? When will he let Brown take over? There is currently "debilitating speculation about exactly when he might go". There is pressure on him to leave sooner rather than later, preferably this year, but all he has said is that he won't seek a fourth term (the next election must be held by 2010).

Whatever happens, whenever he decides to leave, one thing is certain: The Iraq War -- the war that is his as it is to an even greater degree Bush's -- will still be raging in one form or another. His premiership is nearing its end. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the mess he helped to create.

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