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Not sure there are that many similiaraties except in terms of "what next?".

What does Blair do next - he's passed umpteen criminal justice bills but the system has failed, the NHS has been pumped full of money but is failing to deliver, education similiar. He's delivered devolution but looks like Labour might lose both Scotland & Wales and the West Lothian question is creeping up. Plus all the failed promises are now being presented for payment.

Thatcher was in much the same position - as she moved towards last year of the parliament it was more about what she had achieved rather than what still needed to be done. I think it was fatal to Major that to a large extent he & his cabinet hadn't any new ideas either. He resolved poll tax and tried to bridge on Europe but didn't identify new challenges.

I'm not sure Labour will do any better when Blair goes because I can't see Brown radically changing his economic approach and the target setting, micro-management of public services. If its not Brown he'll be a huge thorn in the new PMs side - Johnson say couldn't leave him in the Exchequer so where does Brown go?

I think that there is a consume by date on any PM (about 9-10 years at most) - and his party might stagger through next election with a new face but the direction of travel is defeat.

When Murdoch has no idea who to support or back, it's clear that no one has the foggiest notion what will happen next.

We're moving from an era of total certainty as to what will happen (Labour/Blair victories helpfully facilitated by electoral fraud on a massive scale in 2005) to an era of total uncertainty.

The EU is attempting to close all British exit doors that it can - getting all the major parties to align with similar policies on state funding, taxation, regulation etc - and hope that no minors get big enough to derail the tidy arrangement.

A large Conservative victory would release the Cornerstoners and the Better Off Outs, so the media will be manipulated to keep any Conservative advances beyond 40% to a minimum.

Lib Dems are weaker than ever. Labour's a shambles. Into this unstable situation, the minor parties are showing solid progress.

Mrs Thatcher was known to oppose further EU integration for Britain and had to be got rid of so Major would sign us into Maastricht. Blair on the other hand, has played Europe's game but cannot be kept in place forever.

Europe could have had a quick transfer to Brown if they had wanted, but Mandelson has blocked his chance. Blair is being made to limp on while alternative Europhile cards are prepared.

As the Czech's prepare to launch the new grouping with us in the Europarliament, and we are to leave the EPP, the end of the era where our politics are dictated by EU power must be nigh.

What comes next is going to be very very muddled and muddling, but out of the muddle should in time arrive an end of PC and a new beginning of political honesty, and ultimately maybe the regain of British independence and the rebirth of common sense.

I found it very interesting listening to the different views expressed by some of the "players" within the government. It would have been even better, had both Michael Heseltine and John Major been interviewed as well.
I just don't think that you can compare the end of a Mrs T's premiership with that of Tony Blair. The most telling point in that programme was the mention of the fact that so many torie backbencher's were worried that they would lose their seats at the next election. The different rules within both parties make the conservative backbencher's more powerful than those in the Labour party, and it goes a long way to explaining how easy it has been for Tony Blair to ignore his own parliamentary party. Its quite ironic that these same backbencher's have allowed him to continually treat the process of parliament as an irrelevance, thus weakening their own position even further.
Some commentator's remark on how ruthless the tories can be about removing their leader's, but you have to question how a Labour backbencher in anything other than a safe seat can actually do anything about their predicament. After nine years their leader is sitting tight looking for a legacy, the heir apparent is sulking next door using guerrilla warfare tactics and the rest of the cabinet is trying to position itself for the handover.
Just looking at that continued soap opera goes along way to explaining why this government has been so lacking in efficient managerial skills when governing the country.

Why the heck does EVERYTHING have to come back to the EU?

"Mrs Thatcher was known to oppose further EU integration for Britain and had to be got rid of so Major would sign us into Maastricht."

??? Is this really a serious suggestion of some plot in the corridors of Brussels to get rid of Thatcher? I think you'll find it was Tory MPs, not MEPs or "Eurocrats" or anyone else, who voted her out.

But on the other hand, if there really is this plot to control Westminster, why does our leaving the EPP end that at all? Any wily European in this hush-hush conspiracy worth his salt will still be able to pull the strings of government.

I'm sorry, and I know the editor doesn't like ad hominem attacks, fair enough, but this conspiracy theory that I think I've seen from William before (ie that secret wire-pullers control British politics and any MP who doesn't believe in withdrawal is literally taking his orders from Brussels) is beginning to grate.

What seems clear is that leaders cannot choose their time of going. They are at the mercy of events which are beyond their control. In Blair's case in announcing his approximate date of departure he has not prevented further speculation as to the exact time. In the end it is whether someone is prepared to come forward to mount a credible challenge that seals their fate. Will Blair face such a challenge?

What this actually suggests is that politicians are hopeless at succession planning. Somehow, when they get to the top, they always seem to find they're irreplaceable - and then get replaced.

Not that forward planning is all that it's cracked up to be. Designated successors hardly make a great advert for the idea: Balfour, Eden and arguably Chamberlain, Major and Callaghan.

Nigel Lawson and Margaret Thatcher certainly had some very fundamental ideological disagreements, that it turned out that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been running his own policy regarding the level of the pound was remarkable and that the rest of the cabinet didn't notice he had been doing this was even more remarkable and then there was the bizarre situation of him being kept in place while an outside advisor was brought in.

In the end Mrs Thatcher might have said no, no, no - but it was she who allowed John Major to take the pound into the ERM in the first place, unusually she seems to have allowed herself to be browbeaten into it by John Major and Douglas Hurd on that one.

Tony Blair would like to join the UK into the Euro but is not only opposed on this by most of the people of the UK but also by Gordon Brown notably.

There is another difference in that Mrs Thatcher had decided that it was coming up to time to stand down, she then decided that she felt that there was no one suitable in position to take over from her and then announced that she would be going on and on - in fact didn't she talk about being PM for another 20 years, naturally there were many in the cabinet and near entering the cabinet who realised that if that happened then they personally would have no chance of ever becoming Prime Minister and there was an element of selfishness in moving to bring her down as well as divisions over the EC and the Community Charge.

On the other hand there are no signs of Tony Blair being ready to go back on his saying that he is standing down, in fact he has re-affirmed it a number of times so bearing in mind that he is leaving anyway there are unlikely to be moves to replace him prematurely for what at most would amount to no more than 2.5 years difference from when he would be going by anyway - even many of those who never liked him inside the Parliamentary Party will look at the effect that the 1990 Leadership election had on the Conservative Party as what was effectively one man's ambition effectively weakened the party for years to come, I rather think Mrs Thatcher would have made more out of the 1991 Gulf War and actually have won a General Election in 1991 or 1992 with a much stronger majority and probably would have stepped down in the late 1990's anyway because the strain of being PM does start to get to people and in fact she already was showing signs of having health problems by the late 1990's during various speech giving tours.

>>>>What this actually suggests is that politicians are hopeless at succession planning. Somehow, when they get to the top, they always seem to find they're irreplaceable - and then get replaced.<<<<
Harold Wilson's announcement of his standing down took everyone by surprise - there was virtually no pressure on him to stand down and yet he realised that he perhaps wasn't as sharp as he had been and announced at the age of 60 that he would be standing down in the Summer which was only a few months away.

Edward Heath obviously didn't know, having only won one out of 4 elections and having presided over a fall in the Conservative vote to it's lowest levels since the Corn Laws he still tried to stay on as leader and not only that made some bids to return as leader.

Ramsey MacDonald of course was unique in that he was expelled completely from the Labour Party while remaining PM, in fact the only Labour leader to actually have been removed from the leadership against his will.

Those in the Labour Party saying that Labour could never win another election under Tony Blair are the same ones whose analysis of the years in opposition is that they lost 3 of the 4 elections because they weren't Socialist enough - somehow conveniently they seem to leave out Labour's worse result since 1918 that they had in 1983; in fact Labour support has remained at pretty consistent levels since 2003 and what has changed since 2005 is that Conservative support has gone up a bit at the expense of the Liberal Democrats .

Our leaders have only a very short time to make their mark. At the beginning they need time to assess the situation and bed themselves in, then they have the best period, before the inevitable mistakes creep in. Before they realise it they are into the end-game, with disaffected ex-ministers joining increasingly rebellious back benchers. They are too busy watching their backs to plan a succession. In the end it comes down to who is prepared to take the gamble of leading a coup. Timing is everything.

Margaret on the G - It was the Europhiles who pushed Maggie out - Heseltine, Howe, Clarke etc - and not the eurosceptics.

Once Conservative leadership is at the mercy of the media, it seems that eurosceptics get dumped - Maggie, Hague and IDS.

And Europhiles/Euroneutrals get promoted - Clarke, Portillo, Howard and Cameron.

In the latest leadership battle Liam Fox was the most eurosceptic and he was blanked by the media totally.

There is a pattern here, which might be coincidence, but probably is not.

Within Labour, Blair has had the media all his own way - and he's europhile so while that fits the pattern, he is only an example of one.

Lib Dems who are the most pro-EU always get more weight of media than their size should warrant. The media is apparently 100% europhile when leadership is at stake in any party, it appears from this record.

Inside the EPP we are silenced. Outside who knows? Some say the new group will hold the balance of power. But as you say, it might not alter much. We will see.

Given the total failure of the Blair government to perform, he is being handled by the media with kid gloves. Despite the huge success of Thatcher, she was ruthlessly hounded from office. If you don't like my version of these events, What explanation can you provide? I'd be interested to hear one which pushed me away from my beliefs which grow with conviction the more we see.

Ah, now, there's a difference between Europhiles being perceived as responsible for the downfall of Thatcher and what I assumed (it appears incorrectly) to be your interpretation of events, William, and I am quite happy to apologise for the mistake.

I had thought that you meant the EU "machine" was unhappy with Thatcher, and plotted her downfall from a dimly-lit office in Brussels, secretly ordering minions planted in Westminster to do their bidding.

That's a world of difference: as I say, oops sorry.

Your imagination might be closer to the reality then you think, Margaret on the G.

The Bieleburger Group? No one knows what occurs within secret organisations.

Nothing to do with the Da Vinci Code at least, but the Bieleburger Group might be a good topic for a future Dan Brown-type story and movie.

One interesting start might be that when Aldo Moro disappeared, the Italian PM, a politician appeared who said that he knew where his body was located, after being informed, he claimed in a seance by deceased fellow politicians. That man was Prodi, who later became President of the EU Commission.

Another good one to add to the 'who did what and when' is the assassination of Airey Neave, Mrs Thatcher's closest adviser inside the bounds of Parliament, apparently we were told at the time by the IRA or INLA. While both have admitted to many murders, they both say that Airey Neave was not one of theirs.

And for a trio, what about Pim Fortuyn about to become PM of Holland but assassinated by an 'animal rights activist' just before the election.

And that's before you start on Diana.

I don't know what actually happened in any of these situations, but my mind is not quiet about the build-up of suspicious circumstances over many years, of unlikely deaths, strange election results, and the consistently predictable behaviour of the media.

"The Bieleburger Group? No one knows what occurs within secret organisations."

Is that like an espionage version of MacDonalds?

As for Pim Fortuyn about to become PM of the Netherlands - hrrrrrrm. Never mind that polls showed the LPF third before his assassination.

Bieleburger? Ask Tony Blair and Ken Clarke. They're both members.

Holland has a PR system. If a party holds the balance of power, being third can be enough to win power. It depends on the coalitions being arranged. I admit to not knowing the whole story and would be interested to hear if anyone does.

Re Fortuyn from Telegraph - pre-assassination

Now showing almost 20 per cent support in national polls, the Pim Fortuyn List - appears poised to emerge as a national power after elections on May 15.

He needed 24 seats to hold the balance of power and might have formed a government, had he not been killed. He wished to extricate Holland from the EU.

The spelling is Bilderberg. It's the focus of crazies everywhere:


As for Pim Fortuyn, do you honestly think a party coming third would provide the PM? He would certainly have entered government in a coalition (as the LPF did), but why would larger parties allow a third placed party to have the top role? As it happens, despite the huge national burst of grief and soulsearching after his murder, the LPF only ended up with 17% of the vote.

As for "extricating Holland from the EU", I think you're confusing Fortuyn's positions (ultra-liberal to the point of libertarianism, localist where possible) with the LPF's later opposition to the EU constitution. The LPF changed after Fortuyn's death, losing any intellectual coherence and becoming much more anti-EU and outright xenophobic.

Andrew thanks for the corrections.

List Pim Fortuyn gained 26/150 seats coming second behind CDA's 43/150. To gain a majority at least three parties were needed to form a coalition. Inevitably LPF would have made PF a power broker with such a phenomenal growth in support from nowhere. They also won 36% in the Rotterdam Council election.

In the nationals, LPF came second place, not third. They swung Dutch politics all over the place but collapsed after Pim Fortuyn's assassination.

He was in favour of EU withdrawal.

As for Neave I found the following -

The informer an Englishman 'doing it out of his own resources' had been passing information about Neave for some time. This seems to confirm longstanding rumours that a Leftwing sympathiser had helped the INLA.

Who was it that set up Neave if it wasn't Irish terrorists? That is the question that stands unanswered? Mrs Thatcher's closest adviser.

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