For someone renowned for having decent political antennae, Tony Blair really seems to have lost it with regard to his future. His response today to ongoing speculation about how long he will stay as Prime Minister has been to say, well, it’s not me speculating – The Guardian here. I’m sorry, but this just is not good enough. The rumbles of discontent are clear for all to see; while Blair might not want to speculate, it’s clear that everyone else is waiting, wondering, gossiping, and importantly, dividing and demoralising the Labour Party and the government while we wait for his decision. Whether Blair likes it or not, those calls are just going to get ever stronger.
I hate to see all of this happening. I admire Blair, I’m fearful of Brown, especially on EU issues, but Blair simply has to set a timetable for his departure very soon. Until he does the government cannnot succeed in getting any policy message out, and the Labour Party cannot start to work on preparing ideas and election campaigns for the future. For me, this is not a matter of the person. It’s a matter of strategy. And the keep-them-waiting strategy from Blair is currently a disaster.