Saturday, April 08, 2006

Towards Post-Blair Britain

With new flights serving London City Airport from Stockholm, the distance to London has suddenly been somewhat reduced.

Good. Although it's still shorter from Stockholm to Moscow than fram Stockholm to London.

The politics of the United Kingdom is distinctly in a mood of transition. New Labour is fading, and it might well be that New Conservatives are rising.

There was a telling little piece of information from Tony Blair's press conference in Armagh. It was the one on Northern Ireland that I have written on earlier.

Just before the press conference was to start, it was suddenly decided to block over all the Exit signs that are normal in any room used for public gatherings.


Well, of course to prevent a clever photographer from getting a photo of Tony Blair with the Exit sign immediately above him. For certain - they would have tried.

That's the big issue at the moment: when will Tony Blair hand over to Gordon Brown?

Everyone expects it to happen well within a year. Reports are already talking about people in the Cabinet talking more to Brown that to Blair. The Prime Minister isn't quite a dying swan, but looks increasingly like a dead duck.

This naturally has implications for all sorts of issues. In Washington they will be thinking about the implications for Iran policy. In Brussels they are thinking about a whole series of other issues.

What will it mean if the New Labour of Tony Blair is replaced with more of Old Labour in the form of Gordon Brown?

At the same time the New Conservatives under David Cameron are continuing their extended honeymoon with the media. Opinion polls have weakened slightly, but four months is a very short time.

The Cameron crowd is deliberately thin on policies. Too thin, it is beginning to be said in circles that count.

But the ongoing Spring Meeting 2006 could partly change that.

One has descended on Manchester in order to try to demonstrate that the Conservatives isn't only a party for the rural foxhunters and the wealthy suburbanites, but also for inner city people. There are local elections coming up May 4th, and in the last ones the Conservatives didn't manage to win a single council seat in Manchester.

Old warriors are being brought back under the flag.

Michael Heseltine was once the darling of the party and the not unlikely successor to Margaret Thatcher, although it did not work out that way. But his credibility when it comes to inner city issues is beyond doubt.

He's now leading the charge in Manchester.

But when looking at what's happening within both parties, one can not avoid the suspicion that the post-Blair era now slowly starting will be a more inward-looking one in the politics of Britain.

And that's not necessarily good for the rest of the world.