The End of Teflon Tony Blair?
"Blair's darkest day," said the Daily Mail.
"The end of Teflon Tony," said The Times.
"Humiliating," said The Sun.
"Shattering," said the Scotsman
The British online media are not shy about passing judgments on the implications of the House of Commons's rejection yesterday of Prime Minister Tony Blair's proposal for allowing police to detain terrorism suspects for 90 days without charges. While Blair today rejected calls for his resignation, the consensus across the political spectrum is that the prime minister's storied political power has been fundamentally damaged.
"There comes a moment when prime ministers discover their fallibility and realise that they are politically mortal," said the centrist Financial Times. "On Wednesday, after eight years at Number 10, that moment arrived for the Labour leader."
In response to the July 7 bombings in London, Blair sought to increase the period for detaining terror suspects without charges from 14 days to 90 days. Forty nine members of his own Labour Party deserted him and joined Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in approving a 28-day period.
It was Blair's first defeat in Commons in his 3,115 days in office, noted the center-right The Scotsman, saying it is "likely prove a fatal wound" to Blair's political career.
About the only media support Blair received was from the right wing Sun which blasted the parliamentary majority as "traitors," saying Osama bin Laden was the "winner" of the vote and the victims of the 7/7 bombings "the losers."
The editors of the Daily Mail credited Blair with "almost reckless courage -- some might say arrogance -- in raising the stakes so high to get the 90-day provision through."
"With polls showing public support for the 90-day clause, he believed he could expose Tory and Lib Dem critics to the charge of being soft on terror," they wrote. The refusal of Commons to go along, they added "is almost certainly the beginning of the end of Blair's ability to achieve anything."
Many commentators said Blair would have won had he not refused to compromise on the 90-day figure.
"His macho stand will go down in history as a colossal error of judgment," said the Mirror. "The sheer stunning scale of the reverse and spring in the step of his tormentors raises the prospect of events running away from the Prime Minister. For Blair to repeatedly argue it is better to be right and lose than wrong and win shows he's more comfortable with soundbites than with learning harsh lessons."
Blair is not doomed says the leftist Guardian but his government "will have to choose more often now between compromise and defeat. Mr Blair needs to listen to parliament's voice. He will be in serious trouble if he decides - as he defiantly did yesterday - that the latter is always the better course."
The editors of the right-wing Daily Telegraph said much the same thing .
"If he is determined to carry on in Number 10, he needs to behave more like an elected representative and less like a self-appointed despot," they wrote.
The Times suggested that Blair "may indeed win praise from 7/7 victims for 'doing the right thing.' But his keenness to press the issue may also be a sign of weakness, an indication that he felt the need for a dramatic gesture to recapture authority or mask a defeat. Either way, the result is a serious blow."
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Bapaiah Kolli | November 10, 2005 12:09 PM
Posted by: Jefferson Morley | November 10, 2005 04:09 PM
Posted by: George Silva | November 10, 2005 05:24 PM
Posted by: Gary_7vn | November 10, 2005 07:48 PM
Posted by: David Patrick, UK | November 11, 2005 04:48 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.