Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor of The Australian attempts to put a reflective spin on the loss of support for Tony Blair and his New Labor program shown by British voters a few days ago.
He attempts to turn the historically low turnout for Blair into a trumpeting victory for the blood-for-oil attack on Iraq.
Whilst it is true that the other 2 cowboys of this coalition were also returned to government, the reasons for this are not one common thread all linked to the lies about WMD; the elements that make up their return are a mix of domestic issues and of national security questions.
In the case of the British election, one candidate with a clear anti-war position was George Galloway. He was expelled from the Labour Party for his opposition to Blair’s position. Blair’s continuing baseless belief that Blair was right regardless of the evidence beggars belief.
Standing against a pro-war Labor MP for the quaintly named inner London seat Bethnal Green and Bow, he was first past the post with a lead of 843 over the former member. Yes it is true that this seat has a high population of Muslims, many with a Bangladeshi ethnic background and that Galloway is a fiery Scot growing up among the inner city poor of Dunedin.
Clearly these voters were not convinced by the facts about Iraq as Blair claims to be. They are unable to reconcile the absence of WMDs with the need to kill and maim hundreds of thousands including innocents. The racism that many Muslims feel they are experiencing, stemming from the foolish belief that they are all the same, does little to engender them to the representations of the apparent source of this grief, US policy.
Similarly conservative and pro-US
Further, they feel they are in the frontline of New Labor’s approach to immigration restriction and reducing asylum seeker intake. A little Respect goes a long way.
Seems familiar to the position of our own amigo, but not the apparent position of the one closest to Mexico, Bush, with the burgeoning Hispanic population of the south-western USA. He welcomes this ethnic group and looks to normalize their status in the US. One feels sure that any politician would be happy to immigrate 7 million potential new voters.
Sheridan goes on to favourably compare the winner of 3 elections in the home of the trade union with the loser of 2 against Howard. He gives Beazley a chance because he is similarly conservative and pro US [or as Sheridan puts it, hard-headed on National Security].
Then he bags Costello for what Sheridan likes to describe as Costello’s weakness, a penchant for being politically correct and progressive. I would have to agree that there is a difference between these two on some issues, Costello is after all, a decade younger, so one could assume his relaxed and comfortable area is in the 60s or the 70s and therefore it is logical to assume he will have more modern ideas.
Gee Greg, this is the same era as Beazley and he is, horror of horrors, heading the original home of pc progressive funkydom, a place where it is likely to break out at any moment as the sinister faction battles with the Australian version of comprador New Laborites in internecine warfare or in a struggle with the current home of progressive ideas, the left leaning Greens.
Funny that the Foreign Editor failed to comment on the British version of the Greens, the Liberal Democrats, currently occupying the ground as the anti-war party of ‘left’ leaning progressives who, along with Blair’s loss of over 100 seats, won 67 to become a potential third force.
Perhaps relevance to his point was testing his argument about the 3 amigos ride into history as the hard men of national security, a role he believes the Treasurer of 10 budgets is somehow unable to fulfill. Strange that Howard’s number 2 through Timor, Bali and Iraq somehow lacks the fibre to make similar decisions.
Plenty left in the old dog yet
Never mind, we can move on to his main foreign affairs point, that Howard is the winning leader, the best to beat Beazley, who after another election and a further half-term will only be 69, the age Reagan rose to US President. Plenty left in the old dog yet, as long as it can continue to learn new tricks, just as it has since replaced Downer, the comic former leader from the Adelaide establishment, by working with that marshmallow Costello.
These amigos should not be counted victorious too early, after all polls showed Blair would win. He did, but he now has a reduced majority and the dissidents within British Labour are now closer to defeating him on the floor of parliament; not so easy his ride into the sunset.
Also unravelling is Bush’s popularity, sliding into oblivion in his second and last term. The Republican Party will have to seek a candidate who can sell that bold new vision as soon as it becomes unstuck from Iraq, a desert country that has, as Saddam predicted, become a quagmire similar to Vietnam.
And the final of the 3 comic characters, the bumbling gunslingers going from scrape to scrape in the movie. His greatest test is coming. Retaining popularity whilst implementing his agenda.
Breaking unions didn’t endear Reith, selling off Telstra is not the Nationals’ favourite agenda item, winding back welfare has implications for liberals with a heart, reducing wages always cheers up battlers.
Moves with untested popularity from a PM who has become isolated from control over his own party, leadership tensions breaking out all over, dissenting views coming from the backbench and one Joh for Canberra dissident holding the balance of power in the senate.
Goodluck John, the ride in Ming’s furniture may be long or short. Methinks Hewson is right … you will only leave office voluntarily after an electoral defeat or in a box .
phill Parsons wonders why Greg Sheridan chose a parody of the western to lead in his piece praising conservatism. The consumption of latte and chardonnay leads phill to believe that security is enhanced by getting on with the neighbours. This works at the home where they look out for you over the fence and in the neighborhood; where people assist each other and indeed apparently among allies on the international stage whilst the going is good. Therefore he wonders why Blair’s move into Europe is not contrasted with Howard’s attitude to ASEAN and the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Sheridan’s piece of sycophancy.