Tuesday, December 19, 2006

‘Vote Blair, get Brown’ (or ‘Opportunism Knocks’)

‘Vote Blair, get Brown’ was the Tory slogan at the last election. It was quite a popular slogan, although not for the Tories. Personally, my attitude was ‘vote Labour, get Labour’, which seemed to work quite well as neither chap had his name on my ballot paper.

But, as David Cameron and his party made the probable succession very explicit (and we’ve all more or less known the likely successor for years), he is really in no position now to say that “it would be right actually to hold a general election as soon as is reasonably possible, because the British people thought they were electing Tony Blair. He’s off. Someone new is coming. They need a mandate.”

His attitude is especially contemptible because in March 2005, Cameron himself said: “The fact is if you vote Labour you get Blair, you get Brown, you get extra spending, extra taxing, extra wasting, extra bureaucracy, more power to Brussels, more regional government - all the things that people don't want. So it doesn't matter whether you have Blair or Brown or Milburn, or whoever.” [my emphasis]

I have no idea whether a snap(ish) election would be better for Brown’s electoral chances than waiting out a full term, but one utterly irrelevant factor is any supposed lack of electoral legitimacy, because however presidential Blair’s style may seem, the fact is that British government is party-based; Parliament is constituency-based. Every MP in the Commons is legitimately there. The Labour majority is legitimate. Labour’s right to choose its own leader is legitimate. The leader of the majority party’s status as prime minister is legitimate.



snowflake5 said...

You are right, Cameron is on very thin ground.

First of all the Thatcher handover to Major didn't prompt an immediate general election. This despite the fact that voters in the 1987 general election had no idea that Thatcher was going to be deposed - it came as a complete surprise.

By contrast, Blair made it clear he was stepping down in Sept 2004, well before the 2005 election. Voters went to the polls not only knowing that Blair was going, but in the belief that Brown was taking over (in fact Labour might not have won without the prospect of handover to Brown). So he has a mandate.

Merry Christmas BTW, and I hope all us Labour folk have more cheerful stuff to write about in 2007 than we did in 2006!

Tom said...

That's an unbelievably good point, which I shall now be making at all opportunities.