We are clearly now in Stage 1 of a “Confuse the Voters” campaign by OGL’s Downing Street stormtroopers, who have slavishly modelled their strategy on the Allied Forces’ hugely successful 1944 D-Day “Make Hitler think we’re going to land via St Tropez” campaign.
In that exercise, we had dead bodies in the sea purporting to be British Officers, carrying what looked for all the world like secret copies of the British/American Invasion strategies. This and a whole raft of other wheezes worked amazingly well and our German friends were hoodwinked totally. As a result, their fighting strength was in quite the wrong place when the actual Invasion day arrived.
That’s what Blair’s trying to achieve here. We get various Ministers braying that Tone will be gone within a year, we get a “leaked memo” (perhaps this is the British Officer floating up the Thames with the Secret Papers in his pocket), we get people naming dates of May 31st for him to resign and July 26th for his departure from Downing Street.
The real date, and it’s the result of a simple analysis, which totally bypasses the Spin Doctors’ snake-pit in Westminster, is actually way later than that.
It’s 2008, and here’s why.
The Prime Minister is clearly encountering a “little local difficulty” at present, to borrow a couple of words from one of his predecessors, and he needs a bit of time for that to blow over. The real issue with every Prime Minister, or US President for that matter, which totally consumes his last stint in office, is THE LEGACY. “How am I going to be remembered in 2020 and beyond? Where is my place in history”
This is where the real strategic planning has been going on in Downing Street since last May. This is why no Bills of any significance have been put forward by the Government – they’re mostly men, so they can’t multi-task. This, in conjunction with the only other major item on Blair’s agenda - “Stop Brown at all costs” is what has consumed the PM since May 2005.
Blair is already watching the raft of Millennium policies he pushed forward, crumbling gently away. Where is the Integrated Transport policy? Why are people finding so many alternative expansions of the Acronym PFI? It can’t be just because the middle letter “F” is so helpful in thinking of alternatives. Why do people get discharged partway through a course of treatment in hospital to finish it, because it’s safer at home? Perhaps even Tone himself might accept the possibility that the Iraq war has not been a totally qualified success. Have you ever tried ringing for medical help at night? Can someone explain in simple English exactly how an £18 Billion Identity card process is going to stop a terrorist getting into this country if he wants to? Is there a thread here? Can you see what it is yet?
He needs time to think of something new to go out on, to develop into the one thing he will be remembered by – The Legacy. So, what we do is issue a leaked memo to The Daily Mirror which implies that The Time is Near. Lots of details – and believable, at least until you read it.
Actually you ought to read it, it’s quite riveting. We have it explained to us that “Time is not an unlimited commodity…”, we are told that “He needs to go with the crowd wanting more”. More what? “He should be the star who won’t even play that last encore”. Please God, not the guitar! His departure will be “As much as possible a farewell tour”, and “He needs to embrace open spaces… He needs to be seen with people who will raise eyebrows.” I wouldn’t have thought that would have been too difficult.
All this will be done apparently using an exit strategy based on Blair making appearances on Blue Peter, Songs of Praise and Chris Evan’s radio show.
The real reality is he needs time to get Brown off the stage, time to bring on people like Alan Johnson, John Reid and (dare one even mention) P**** M******** to become real contenders. He needs to keep Prescott in place as a Doomsday threat so that if Blair goes prematurely or gets shot or even stranded in Sir Cliff’s Barbados villa, you get the DPM immediately taking over. Now that should keep him secure!
But let’s look at the facts. He’s got to go by end April 2010, when he finishes his 5 year term. We’re now 17 months (is it only that long?) into his tenure. He will agree that leaving Downing Street the day before the next election is probably not a great strategy, so will give his non-Brown successor around 18 months for the opprobrium of the electorate to be successfully transferred onto his replacement, which puts us around the end of 2008. The real killer here is there’s still no legacy. Strangely here though, the solution comes from a most remarkable source.
Enter Margaret Hilda Thatcher. Just muse over her time as PM and say what you like about her – she was the longest serving Prime Minister this country has ever, ever had. What a record. She took office on 4 May 1979, and left it on 22 November 1990, a total of 4,220 days. Now, let’s just see where 4,221 days takes us……….
Ah, 19th November 2008. I can’t do Peter Sellar’s accent, but “Verrry interesting”.
So, back to the beginning. The Daily Mirror has been duped and used as a Spin Doctor’s Tool, The Sun has (for once in its life) got it completely wrong.
The date, quite obviously, is 19th November 2008. It's the only thing left for him to do.
Remember, you heard it here first!