Monday, May 08, 2006

So, Yeah, Blair's in Trouble

Clarke is fired in Cabinet purge according to the beeb, but it hasn't helped much:

Charles Clarke has been sacked as home secretary in the biggest Cabinet reshuffle of Tony Blair's career.
The prime minister is trying to regain momentum after one of the worst local election results in Labour's history.

Mr Clarke will be replaced by Defence Secretary John Reid. Margaret Beckett is the new foreign secretary, with Jack Straw becoming Commons leader.

John Prescott will stay as deputy prime minister but lose his department. Trade Secretary Alan Johnson gets education.

Labour came third in the overall share of the vote in local elections in England, losing control of 18 local authorities. The Tories were the biggest winners, gaining 316 extra councillors and 40% of the vote.

The results - which saw Labour lose 319 councillors - prompted Mr Blair to push ahead with a reshuffle originally planned for Monday.

The reshuffle comes amid reports a letter is circulating among Labour MPs calling for Mr Blair to name a date for his handover of power to Chancellor Gordon Brown.

The PM said he was "sorry" to lose Mr Clarke, who has been under intense pressure over the deportation of foreign prisoners - one of a series of scandals to have rocked the government in recent weeks.

But he added: "I felt that it was very difficult, given the level of genuine public concern, for Charles to continue in this post."
Yeah, Tony, there's clearly a level of public concern about you continuing in your post as well.

The Tories seem happy:

Giving his reaction to the moves, Conservative leader David Cameron said: "It will take far more than a reshuffle. What we need in this country is a replacement."

He said the Conservatives were "showing there is a broad-based alternative that is building while the government is collapsing".
While the LibDems not so much:

The Liberal Democrats failed to make predicted advances, gaining less than 20 councillors, but Sir Menzies Campbell insisted it was not a test of his leadership.

He said Mr Blair should have sacked Mr Clarke "before now", saying the prime minister was "trying to shuffle a pretty battered pack of cards".
I think the Liberal Democrats are still pretty well placed, though. After all, Labour is still, well, labouring under the burden placed upon it by its connection to Bush's war, and yet the Conservatives are almost certain not to change the direction of government much. If the Conservatives win and there isn't much change, the LibDems can get respectable gains using a genuinely liberal (and probably somewhat "England First") platform.

Certainly the polling suggests LibDem strength:
If Thursday's polls had been held nationwide, the Tories would have gained 40% of the vote, Lib Dems 27% and Labour 26%. Turnout is estimated at 36% - down three points from 2004.

Of course, all this may be moot if Tony gets tossed over the side like Thatcher was and Brown essentially turns Labour into a whole new party. Which, honestly, seems more likely by the day.

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