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Personnel or policies?

Nick Robinson | 16:58 UK time, Tuesday, 5 September 2006

By no means everyone in the Labour Party believes that the party's problems will be solved by changing leaders or setting out a timetable. Some believe that the problems are more a matter of policies than personnel.

Charles Clarke, pictured during a BBC interviewForemost amongst those is Charles Clarke, who gave an interesting lecture this morning expressing scepticism about the need to renew Trident or build nuclear power stations; backed green taxes and the completion of House of Lords reform and much more besides. You can read his speech here (word document) or watch my interview with him here.

PS: Now another letter's being planned. This one says that MPs back David Miliband's prediction that the PM will be gone by this time next year. More on this later.


  • 1.
  • At 06:10 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Aaron wrote:

Some believe that the problems are more a matter of policies than personnel.

Policies, personnel, contempt for the British public, particular contempt for the English, general attitude...

Blair, and as has become particularly clear today, his advisors, have been immersed in spin so long that they actually believe it themselves. They actually honestly believe that there is no problem, and that everybody inside the party and out really does love Tony.

They are, to be frank, delusional.

  • 2.
  • At 06:32 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • weatherwitch wrote:

The one thing that really gets me about this is the 'when will he go milarkey' is taking over the press. Personally I don't care when he goes, what I want to see is action that actually helps those of us who are disabled or long term sick. And yet a benefits computer that cost the taxpayer £141m is being shelved. £141 million!? And he has the cheek to call someone like me who has mulitple disabilities a scrounger?! I buy all my own specialist equipment, am failed time & time again by social services but Teflon Tony does whatever he can to whoever he can & gets away with it. He can go today, or next year, just as long before he goes he finally does something good & worthwhile for the disabled & for those of who live right out in the sticks & never benefit from any of these city based help the poor schemes. Rural poverty is the major countryside issue for me, not hunting with hounds. One day, one year someone will care.

  • 3.
  • At 06:37 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Andy Ashworth wrote:

As an expat now living in Canada (thanks to the policy of successive Governments to sacrific UK industry to overseas businesses) I find this latest political manouvering by Blair et al to be distasteful and extremely peurile. Talk of an orderly succession smacks of playground posturing between two small minded alpha-males who can't quite gain ascendancy over each other.

TB & GB are playing petty political games and making the UK a laughing stock on the world stage. For the sake of the UK, forgo the egoes and call an election. This would give at least an appearance of democracy to the UK rather than the current corrupt and bankrupt system that is in place.

  • 4.
  • At 07:16 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

Did not vote for Blair or New Labour, but given the current level of threat from Islamic Extremism don't fancy the other nags in Labours stable to deal with it (esp with their liberal left donkeys 'hew hawing' away).

Wonder if the question is really under what ideal circumstances would Blair hope to go under (perception of success on some matter and/or suitable bauble with the UN or other org) versus what range of probable options are going to be available to him over the next 12 months.

Will Blair wish to spend his remaining time & energies scuppering Browns bid & also fix the party's agenda for the next 5 years (e.g. reform of public services) or will Blair prefer to direct his energies into fashioning a means of credible exit.

Blair & New Labour have been about 'spin' since day one.

They embraced spin in Blair's assertion, they will as readily embrace spin in his addiction & final days.

Either way, his wife is soon to be the regular bread winner (perhaps that's why he put so much parental & family legislation on the books :)


  • 5.
  • At 07:28 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Katie Turner wrote:

YOU'RE BACK!!! YAY!!!! Hope you had a nice holiday!!!

  • 6.
  • At 08:03 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • David Rattue wrote:

Well done the BBC you have again been reporting on what the goverment want you to report.

What is better ,that you report on Tony going, or the 20 deaths in Iran or Afganistan

The spin doctors have successefully led you away from the carnage which TB has taken our soldiers into.

  • 7.
  • At 11:57 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

The question I think we should be asking is why Mr Blair will not pass on the baton? Here we have a man who, by his own admission, wants to step down and yet for some reason he feels unable to do so.
He seems to have no confidence in the party to carry on without him at the helm, which leads one to believe that he sees no immediate successor waiting in the wings.
If he is waiting for Iraq or Afghanistan to suddenly become a success then I fear he has a long wait. He has few successes to point at and an ever growing list of failures.
I wonder if he will have a change of heart, or perhaps he is waiting for the electorate to demand he stay on. Perhaps he should remember that he does not have a mandate from the people, around 30% of the electorate voted for labour at the last election - hardly a ringing endorsement.
The calls for TB to set a departure date from within his own party only serve to emphasis how little trust their is in him to keep his word.
Nick, the next time you have the opportunity to ask a question of this aging lion, ask him what he is waiting for!

  • 8.
  • At 07:04 AM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • jillclayton wrote:

I started to read the Clarke speech. In the fourth paragraph, I came across: "A PRINCIPLE political necessity for Labour, it seems to me, is to address those fault-lines and again seek support ..."
Do I assume Clarke finds 'principle' and 'principal' indistinguishable or that he can't be bothered to read through speeches somebody else has printed out for him? Jill

  • 9.
  • At 08:37 AM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • Anthony Jaynes wrote:

Three anti-government/Labour/Blair blogs in one day, is this a record? It makes me wonder how much time was spent gathering the facts. I know when school starts back after the summer holidays its all about gossip. How here is a fact, a major split as opened up between Mr John Redwood and Mr David Caneron over taxation, so why not a weblog on this.

  • 10.
  • At 08:40 AM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Wills wrote:

Is any one else getting tired over all this talk of legacy? How many other Prime Ministers have spent such a large part of their time concerned over their legacy?
As far as I am concerned I know what his legacy is. When I was 17 I travelled through Yugoslavia, then behind the Iron Curtain (our supposed enemy at the time). On a train carriage some Gestapo looking border police came to check passports. Every passport was scrutinised with care including USA passports, except mine and a couple of other Brits. As I handed mine to the policeman he waved it away and said 'British' and smiled. This experience was repeated almost throughout my travels in the 1970's all over Europe and in Asia. Today I am almost afraid to show my passport in some parts of the world because of the hatred Blair and his boss Bush have caused for us Brits. That is Blair's legacy and it will take more than a disney parade around the UK to change that.

  • 11.
  • At 10:00 AM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • Martin wrote:

All successful leaders eventually lose touch. The more powerful you are the harder it is to know what is actually happening. The problem with the Labour Party now is not the policies, it is the fact that what is delivered does not match the rhetoric. A change of leader may help, if only because it brings some new ideas. The present apparatchiks in Downing Street find it difficult to admit that anything is wrong.

  • 12.
  • At 10:47 AM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • Nick Fortune wrote:
They actually honestly believe that there is no problem, and that everybody inside the party and out really does love Tony.

I sometimes think of it as an odd sort of reverse paranoia; the irrational and unfounded conviction that everybody does not, in fact, hate them.

Alas, I doubt the condition will respond to treatment, at least not this side of a general election.

  • 13.
  • At 10:48 AM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • Ed Clarke wrote:

David Rattue wrote:

"Well done the BBC you have again been reporting on what the goverment want you to report."

Have you forgotten the Hutton report? He said that the BBC had to report whatever the Blair news management team told them to report. So it does.

How much longer do we have to put up with this.

They are like a bunch of schoolkids this government.

  • 15.
  • At 09:27 PM on 10 Sep 2006,
  • vikingar wrote:

With ref given Charles Clarke's latest outburst.

At this rate the New Labour self imposed Old style Labour purge will ensure their party is heading for the rocks, no matter who is eventually at the helm, because the fighting on the bridge prevents agreement on a course - the point of no return looms closer still - hay ho :)

It's the 1990's all over again - retro politics.

Will Labour by abandoning the creator of Blairism in turn survive 'Brownism' - since unlike Blair, Brown lacks the personable set of skills to win hearts & minds & inspire people.

Blairism inspired people, attracted no end of imaginative policy but failed to deliver - what will Brownism do? fiddle the books?, obsess on the detail, fail to deliver & de-motivate a party, ensuring their political purgatory.

Q. how many mediocre Financial Directors go onto to become Managing Directors & lead successful companies?




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