Wednesday, March 22, 2006 at 11:13 AM
Many Britons are citing disclosures about a campaign finance scandal as the reason for Prime Minister Tony Blair’s political purgatory. But that’s rather like citing disclosures about the Abramoff lobbying scandal for President George Bush’s living hell. Because, in fact, Blair is facing a vote of no-confidence that could boot him out of office for the same reason that Bush is facing threats of impeachment: Iraq, Iraq, Iraq!
Blair made quite a show on Monday of proposing legislation to prevent rich people from donating secret campaign contributions to political parties. Unlike rich Americans, however, these fat cats were not buying influence to get richer; instead, they were doing so to get royal titles (i.e., seats in the House of Lords). Which, of course, finally discloses Blair’s real motivation for getting rid of hereditary peerages: He wanted to open seats for his nouveau riche friends to crown their life’s achievements with an anachronistic baronetcy. But this is England, and these parvenus will never, never be accepted:
“I have no sympathy at all for the prime minister and his coterie of cronies who are at the heart of this affair….They have dragged politics, their party and sadly this house into disrepute.” [Thomas Strathclyde - Conservative leader in the House of Lords]
More importantly, this legislation amounts to a futile attempt by Blair to put out the fire engulfing his premiership with a water pistol. And, despite its honorable intent, it merely highlights how much Blair has betrayed his pledge to “run a government purer than pure.” Meanwhile, members of his own party are busy adding fuel to that fire by calling on him to step down now – to preserve what’s left of his political integrity and protect their collective political hides. And, where Bush can be sure that winning an impeachment against him would be nigh impossible (as former President Clinton proved), Blair must be unnerved by the ease with which disgruntled members of his own party can oust him from office (as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher knows all too well).
Therefore, just as he has emulated Bush by presiding over a thriving national economy (despite one domestic scandal after another), Blair seems poised to emulate him by suffering a premature and ignominious end to his leadership: which is likely to come this year, with over four years left on his term).
NOTE: If you think the Americans were alone in bringing disrepute on their lofty democratic mission (think Abu Gharib), well:
“This is further proof that British and U.S. soldiers in Iraq have gone too far in offending and humiliating people.”