Anorak News | Tony Blair Was Only Obeying Gordon Brown’s Orders

Tony Blair Was Only Obeying Gordon Brown’s Orders

by | 23rd, June 2007

gordon-brown-smile.jpgTONY Blair’s redefining the European Union. And Gordon BRown’s looking tough. Dizzy takes a look (Pic: The Spine):

On the day before he becomes leader of his party, what more could Brown possibly want than to have virtually all the papers pushing a “Strong Brown saves Britain from weak Blair and the French” line?

After a couple of days of headlines where Brown – some might say successfully – created the perception of reaching out beyond tribal party politics, we now have a conveniently timed moment of Brown’s “strength” at the EU Summit which he wasn’t even attending. But how did it happen?

If you look at the path the British line has taken over the past 48 hours it seems rather an odd one when placed against what we know about Blair. First up the French protectionist move was dismissed, then we were seeking “clarity” of the position, next we were saying “you know what, it’s actually not that bad really” and then suddenly we’re back to square one after a phone call where Brown is alleged to have told Blair to tell the French to stick it.

Thus we have “Brown forces Blair to stand up and veto a French stitch-up” (Mail), “Brown acts to avert Blair ‘cave-in’” (Times), “EU agrees mini-treaty as Brown calls on Blair to stiffen his resolve” (Indy), “Go back and stand up to the French, Brown orders Blair” (Guardian), “Blair’s EU ‘cave-in’ ends truce with Brown” (Telegraph), “Brown vetoes Blair and France” (Sun).

Call me a feral cynic if you will, but what if the British concession was never actually serious? Put it like this, if one accepts that Blair was genuinely about to concede to Sarkozy (and Brown wasn’t) then one is also accepting that Blair is on the Left of Brown when it comes to economics and the markets. That is after all the implication behind the headlines. Brown as the anti-protectionist free-marketeer against the protectionist Blair, a man of the Left as it were.

Say what you like about Blair and his ten years in Government, but it simple isn’t credible that when placed on the political spectrum Brown is on the right of Blair. I’d say there are two possible explanations. The first (unlikely explanation) is that the whole thing was part of a news management operation from start to finish. That Blair and Brown were complicit in creating a “Brown stands up to the EU” line the day before he took over.

The second (and more likely) explanation is that the rivalry between the two men is so bitter that Blair decided he would try and stitch Brown up by agreeing to something that he knew Brown wouldn’t accept. This would mean Brown, upon taking the reigns of power, would have to go back to the table and renegotiate, finding himself embroiled in a mess not of his making. It’s worth noting that when the news broke about Britain accepting the French position the words “cave-in” began to appear, always in quotes, yet always unattributed, someone somewhere was briefing that line.

When you then look at today’s papers would you see, consistently, is the line that a phone call was made by Brown to Blair which involved Brown “ordering” Blair what to do. Now, clearly that view of reality is not something that will have come from anyone in the Blair camp. Can anyone seriously imagine Blair’s spokesman briefing the press that his boss took orders from his inferior on the matter? Exactly.

I’d say it’s far more likely that the conversation involved Brown telling Blair that his miscalculation in trying to stitch him up left him with two choices. He could either (a) carry on safe in the knowledge that Brown would ensure the phrase “cave-in” was everywhere and that he would make sure Blair was remembered as the man that threw Britain away; or (b) he could U-Turn and only be mildly humiliated by Brown but ultimately save himself from looking a complete tit as a result of his final act as PM.

Putting it simply, it was a win-win situation for Brown. In the first instance he knew the press, being largely euro-sceptic, would pump the “Blair cave-in” line for all that it was worth. And in the second he knew he could push the “Strong Brown” line if Blair was willing to capitulate. Of course, this is all wild speculation on my part. But the lines across the media in the past 48 hours seemed amazingly syncronised that all I could think about was “continuity and change”.

Posted: 23rd, June 2007 | In: Uncategorized Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink