Britain’s Blair takes tumble

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The Article

Troubles open way for Tories

LONDON—Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government are now so covered in sleaze, one is reminded of Jean Chretien and Paul Martin’s regimes.

In a London Sunday Times poll, some 65% of those surveyed thought Blair was dishonest.

The same poll showed 49% of respondents thought Blair would do anything to win votes.

For a man who just a decade ago brought Britain’s Labour party out of its union-dominated straitjacket and moved it to the centre of the political field and seemed ready to go down as one of the great leaders of the times, his fall from grace is stunning.

And it’s not solely because of his support of U.S. President George W. Bush and the liberation of Iraq—the Brits generally don’t like Bush and were against Blair joining him in the Iraq invasion.

Somewhat like the Chretien-Martin era, Blair’s major woe concerns patronage.

He is being condemned day after day, week after week, and month after month for allegedly selling honours to big money contributors to his Labour party.

Those honours range from seats in the House of Lords (roughly, Canada’s Senate) to medals of distinction (roughly, Orders of Canada, but more prestigious).

The London Times poll showed 56% of those polled fully believed peerages are being given to those who makes donations or loans to the Labour party.

Even that startling figure was dwarfed by the 70% of respondents who are at least “worried” peerages are being sold.

A major police investigation is underway with cabinet, government and Labour party officials and employees are being questioned.

Blair himself has been interrogated.

Currently, a mish-mash of polls conclude between 55% and 60% believe Blair should resign.

But he won’t go.

Again, think of Chretien and Martin.

Aside from the honours scandals, Blair and his wife, Cherie, are under fire for having now bought five expensive homes.

No one is quite sure how this multi-million pound real estate package—at least $15 million in Canadian dollars—is being financed.

Blair and his wife come from modest backgrounds but assidiously built their ways up the ladders, he in politics and Cherie in law.

Both have now obviously left their modest backgrounds behind them and flaunt expensive lifestyles.

Until Blair resurrected the Labour party under the slogan “New Labour” and turned it away from socialist economic policies to acclaiming American-style free enterprise as the way to go, the Conservatives had been the “natural governing party” of Britain.

They routinely won elections, with Labour having short bouts of success—the flipside to the Conservatives and Liberals in Canada.

For a decade under Blair, it seemed the Conservatives might finally be relegated to second-party status.

Yet, with Blair, his government, and his wife awash in troubles, the Conservatives under youthful-looking leader David Cameron, finally seem to be springing back.

Even Cameron’s admission that as a teenage student at Eton—one of Britain’s most prestigious schools—he was censured for having been caught smoking marijuana, has not harmed his image.

Sleaze, it seems, smells far worse than pot.


Paul Jackson
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