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House of Commons, 4:56PM: The moment Tony Blair lost his authority

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cal04 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-09-05 09:29 PM
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House of Commons, 4:56PM: The moment Tony Blair lost his authority
Tony Blair's personal authority was badly dented last night when he suffered a humiliating defeat over his plan to allow the police to detain suspected terrorists for up to 90 days without charge. Mr Blair's first Commons defeat since coming to power in 1997 was heavier than expected and provoked speculation at Westminster about how long he could remain Prime Minister. Some allies admitted privately his tenure could be shortened if Labour backbenchers inflict further defeats in the next few months over his planned reforms on education, health and incapacity benefit.

After staking his authority on the police's request for greater detention powers - which came after the London bombings in July - Mr Blair sat grim-faced and shaking his head in the Commons as it was announced that the 90-day detention plan had been rejected by 322 votes to 291. A total of 49 Labour backbenchers joined the Tories and Liberal Democrats to reject the proposal. The MPs then added to Mr Blair's embarrassment by voting in favour of a 28-day detention limit - up from the present 14 days but well short of the 60-day fallback position favoured by the Government.

In a round of television interviews last night, an unrepentant Mr Blair denied the setback would force him to stand down earlier than planned. However, some cabinet ministers believe the blow to his authority will increase the pressure on him to name a date for his handover of power to Gordon Brown, the overwhelming favourite to succeed him. Mr Brown's allies are growing frustrated at the damage they believe is being done to Mr Brown's inheritance by Mr Blair's reluctance to name the day. Senior ministers may now swing behind Mr Brown in pressing Mr Blair to outline his departure timetable for the sake of party unity. "He has got to name a date," said one Brownite MP.

Mr Blair hinted at a possible timetable when he addressed Labour MPs on Monday, saying he needed 18 months to see through his package of reforms. That could mean stepping down in the spring of 2007, perhaps on his 10th anniversary as Prime Minister in May. However, some Labour MPs predicted he might be forced out next year unless he watered down "Thatcherite" policies to inject more market forces into public services. Mr Blair acknowledged the defeat would be interpreted as a clear sign that his authority had been gravely weakened. "People will say that. That is not the issue for me. The issue is doing the right thing to protect this country," he said. "I have no doubt where the country is on this. The country will think Parliament has behaved in a deeply irresponsible way today."
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...of J.Temperance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-09-05 09:47 PM
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1. The Labour backbenchers need to kick Blair OUT
Get a Stalking Horse candidate up and running, which paves the way for Gordon Brown to enter the race and Brown would hammer Blair in a leadership contest.

18 MONTHS! No, Blair needs to go by the end of the year. He's not going to name a date, he's going to cling on pathetically and defiantly for as long as he can, he's not going to stand down by I'm afraid he's going to HAVE to be pushed out.

C'mon Labour backbenchers get some balls and show Blair the door. There's a ready-made and in-waiting Prime Minister living NEXT DOOR to Blatcher...and ready to move in.

Blair's now SO like Thatcher, that people are calling him Blatcher.
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