Blair Laying Ground for Power Transition
TONY BLAIR is ready to start talks with senior colleagues about the “stable and orderly” transfer of power, Gordon Brown revealed today. And the Chancellor warned there must be no repeat of Margaret Thatcher’s brutal ousting by the Tory Party. His comments imply that a deal on the Prime Minister’s date of departure could be struck soon.
With Labour at its lowest level in the polls since 1992 – down six points in a month to just 30 per cent compared to the Tories’ 38 – the passing of power to Mr Brown is now the central talking point at Westminster.
And today, despite the rebellious mutterings of his aides, the Chancellor rallied to Mr Blair who has promised Labour MPs he will give his successor “ample” time to establish themselves in office before the next UK General Election. Mr Brown said that Labour needed to handle the transition in a way that was “unifying as well as unified” and prove by its “actions and behaviour” that it was capable of winning people’s trust for a fourth time.
And he invoked Baroness Thatcher’s ejection from No 10 in 1990 as a warning. Mr Brown said: “Tony said that he is going to do it in a stable and orderly way, that means that he is going to be talking not just to me but senior colleagues about it. Remember when Mrs Thatcher left, it was unstable, it was disorderly and it was undignified. I think we will prove to the world that we can do these things in an ordinary, dignified and sensible and proper way and do it in a way that is unifying as well as unified. You know there is no leader who has said before he is going to leave before an election, so undoubtedly there is speculation about what’s going to happen.”
While the Tories’ dumping of Thatcher was indeed undignified, it worked. Her successor, John Major, led the Conservatives to victory in the 1992 elections despite a moribund economy before getting thrashed by Tony Blair in 1997.