Monday, April 19, 2004

Tony Blair is in trouble

Opinion swings against PM after bloodiest month in Iraq

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Tuesday April 20, 2004
The Guardian

Support for Tony Blair's stand on Iraq has fallen sharply in the last two months, according to the findings of the latest Guardian/ICM opinion poll.

The bloodiest month since the invasion of Iraq has seen public opinion in Britain swing sharply against Mr Blair, with 48% saying the war was not justified.

The survey also found that two-thirds of British voters have little or no confidence in the Americans' handling of the situation in Iraq, with 79% saying it is too dangerous for civilians working for British companies to be in the country.

There is still majority support for US and British troops to remain but a growing and significant minority - 42% - believe Mr Blair should follow the example of the new Spanish government and bring the army home within six months.

The prime minister's personal rating remains in the doldrums at minus 20 points. But this month's Guardian/ICM poll does contain some good news for Mr Blair, with the Labour party regaining a five point lead over the Conservatives despite being buffeted by the Beverley Hughes immigration row at home and by events in Iraq and Israel.

Now, I understand from all this that Tony Blair's public standing has considerably declined as a direct result of the situation in Iraq (and his relationship with Bush). What is not too clear to me is the significance of his personal rating being minus 20 points. Very low, okay, but below zero? Must be a differing methodology from that which we use here in the States.

More bad news for Blair follows, this time regarding the historic constitution proposed for the EU:

Tony Blair
was battling to defend his timetable for the government's proposed referendum on the EU constitution last night as Downing Street faced accusations that its handling of the strategic u-turn had been shambolic...

The strategy is a bold but risky throw of the dice for No 10 at a time when Mr Blair's reputation has been damaged by the Iraq war. If it results in a No vote - as many on both sides expect - it could cost him the premiership.

Also gone would be his reputation in Europe, where a veto from Eurosceptic Britain would cripple the constitution.

This comes on the heels of info that

A collapse in the number of Labour party members is jeopardising the party's election prospects, amid claims that the total has hit a 70-year low.

The lesson here, as President Aznar knows very well, is that if you are the leader of any country, and you become closely associated with President Bush, you are politically in great danger, if not finished. If Al Gore were today the President (de facto as well as de jure), Tony Blair would probably have no problem pushing through the EU constitution or with Labor Party membership, because he wouldn't have lost all his credibility by getting his country bogged down in an illegal pre-emptive war.

Also in Europe,

El reports that Honduras, following the lead of Spain, is withdrawing all of its soldiers in Iraq (370) as soon as possible.

El presidente de Honduras, Ricardo Maduro, ha anunciado que su Gobierno ha decidido "el retorno inmediato y en el menor tiempo posible" de las tropas hondureñas en Irak, un día después de que Rodríguez Zapatero anunciara la misma decisión.

Another day, another politician realizes that a pact made with Bush is a lose-lose situation.

And in other news, the biggest democracy in the world votes today for parliament. The BJP, India's governing party, didn't send any Indians to Iraq, so they will probably win.


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