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Tony Grist

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Regime Change [Jul. 15th, 2007|11:24 am]
Tony Grist

I'm not going to read the Alastair Campbell Diaries on principle (I think he's a horrible man and I don't want to put any money in his pocket) but I'm not averse to reading about them. And I've read everything that's crossed my path. It seems Armando Ianucci's The Thick Of It gets the ambience of the Blair government exactly right-  laddish, desperate, dithery,  terrified, shallow. These people weren't fit to govern- but is anyone? Apparently most of the Cabinet had serious doubts about the invasion of Iraq- so how come only Robin Cook resigned? 

There's a nice line from Neil Kinnock apropos Blair's decision (before he became P.M.) to send his kids to private schools. "He's sold out before he's even got there."

But Blair and his gang have gone. There's no longer any point in raking through the detritus to prove how disgusting they were.  Lets do our best to forget them.

So- like almost everybody else-  I've been impressed by Gordon Brown's first few weeks in office. Firstly the style of government has changed: no more of that Blairy mateiness- and that's so refreshing. Also- am I absurdly prejudiced?- that policy speech he gave yesterday seemed to contain less uplift and more detail than we've become used to.   I like how he seems to value the House of Commons, I like how he's licensed his underlings to say he won't be "joined at the hip" to George Bush, I like his squashing of the Blairite scheme for funding urban regeneration with "super casinos"  and I like how he seems to be serious about tackling the housing crisis. 

I'm sure I'll find many reasons in future for deploring his premiership, but right now it's just so good to feel there's a grown-up in charge.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2007-07-15 12:27 pm (UTC)
I agree on your impressions of Gordon Brown. He has a gravitas, a reassuring solidness that makes me think this is a man who is capable of leading us through war and peace. My opinion of Tony Blair hit rock bottom when he appeared on the terminally unfunny Frank Skinner's chat show. Plus, with all the bad publicity that accumulated round the Blairs - "Cheriegate", the Carole Caplin influence, cash for honours - waving goodbye to them carried the same sense of relief for me as watching that other ubiquitous "Celebrity" couple, Posh n Becks, leave for LA. For the last couple of years, its felt as though the country has been led by a celebrity wannabe who has nothing but contempt for his people. Brown, at the moment, appears to be wanting to erase that, and I thank him for it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-15 12:41 pm (UTC)
I like your characterization of Blair as a "celebrity wannabe".

I've been wondering how things would have been if Brown not Blair had been Prime Minister for the past ten years. Would we have followed America into Iraq? I suspect not.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2007-07-15 01:01 pm (UTC)
What if John Smith hadn't died in 1994? (or was it 95?) I was studying A-Level politics at that point, and the Major era was on its last legs. Smith, from what I remember, was a tough, old-school socialist who was devoutly anti-American. I suspect if Smith had won the election in 1997, the relationship with Clinton would have been decidedly frosty, and with Bush Jr non-existant. Smith's death has caused an interesting quirk in History - it was due to that the Blair became leader and the resulting decade of change proved the law of diminishing returns.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-15 01:44 pm (UTC)
But would Smith have won the '97 election? Pobably yes because we were all so sick of the Tories by that point.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2007-07-15 01:54 pm (UTC)
Unless Major was able to pull something very special out of the bag. But by that point, it was all over. Shipwrecked on a diet of sleaze and back stabbing.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-15 02:16 pm (UTC)
It's easy to forget- after ten years of being disappointed by Blair- just what a rabble the Tories were in the late 90s.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2007-07-15 02:25 pm (UTC)
This is the problem. After Major's Back to Basics self-destructed, and the Tories became a laughing stock, we were ready to be seduced. We wanted someone young, dynamic, who would understand Britain and the need to move the country on. What we ended up with was someone who in his outlook was more conservative than the Tories, and I mean that with a small "c".
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2007-07-15 02:03 pm (UTC)
watching that other ubiquitous "Celebrity" couple, Posh n Becks, leave for LA

We would have happily let you hang onto them.
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[User Picture]From: ingenious76
2007-07-15 02:22 pm (UTC)
Agreed, you already have Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, and the rest of the psuedo celebs. But please don't send them back.
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[User Picture]From: qatsi
2007-07-15 01:12 pm (UTC)
I like the distancing from the US, but I wonder whether there is any higher motive than domestic popularity, as Bush is entering the "lame duck" phase of his presidency anyway, so there is even less value in cosying up to him.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-15 01:42 pm (UTC)
Brown is signalling to his domestic audience- and to the American democrats- that he acknowledges the unpopularity of the Bush regime. At the same time he's trying to reassure that regime that we're still its friends. I don't suppose he has much room to turn in, but at last he's doing what he can.
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-07-15 07:44 pm (UTC)

Brown

I agree with your piece about regime change and Brown's more grown-up leadership. So pleased he is rejecting super casinos as a way of regenerating an area. What a thought that was!
jenny
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-15 10:31 pm (UTC)

Re: Brown

The casinos idea was decadent. There's no better word for it. I'm so glad Brown is putting his foot down.
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2007-07-17 11:45 pm (UTC)
I saw him on the TV talking about the attacks and he was so straight-forward and to the point, it was actually shocking to me. I was horrified at first, then I realized how used we have become to getting bullshitted on the TV. I got a good vibe. Let's see what he does.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-18 08:30 am (UTC)
Campbell is a former tabloid journalist and has a blunt no nonsense manner. I dislike him because of his role in the Blair administration- specifically the "sexing-up" of the evidence for Iraqi WMDs and his bullying of journalists.
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[User Picture]From: besideserato
2007-07-18 05:45 pm (UTC)
Sexing up--that's the nicest way I have heard anyone describe the mad spins and sensationalism of tabloids. There's a place for guys like that and it's not in politics.
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