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Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Belshazzar was SLAIN!

You'll have to excuse the Biblical reference, but it is the Son of the Manse, that great scion of Presbyterian conscience and moral authority, to whom I refer.

Gordon Brown's refusal to confirm whether or not Darling or Blears have a future in the Cabinet was telling. It was the closest he had yet come to announcing that a cabinet reshuffle was indeed on the cards, and while you might perhaps forgive him for letting Blears drift, Darling has been a loyal chancellor - so loyal that he has gained the unenviable caricature of being his sock-puppet. Yet even Darling has on occasion 'overstepped' his master's authority with comments that diverged from the Prime Minister's chosen tune. Perhaps it is not so surprising that past loyalty is no protection when your master is backed into a corner fearing for his political life.

Ultimately, though, the suspense was broken by Jacqui Smith when she announced she would be standing down at the next reshuffle. Admittedly, she failed to fall on her sword as thoroughly as we would have liked by resigning as an MP entirely. With her slender majority of just over two-thousand, however, my suspicion is that she hopes to save her seat by showing some penitence. Smith's resignation could not come too soon, in my eyes. In her two years in the job as Home Secretary she has seen the Government's plans for increased terrorist detention defeated and has presided over massively unpopular plans for authoritarian DNA databases and ID cards. The Liberal Democrat's Chris Huhne branded her a failure even on her own terms. Throw in her expenses, her attempts to make prostitution even more open to abuse (a total lack of appreciation for the law of unintended consequences) and husband's predilection for charging his porn films to the taxpayer, and her position really was untenable.

Her attempt at damage limitation is, as ever, too little too late. What it has served to do is put the writing on the wall for Gordon Brown. If more nails were required for the proverbial coffin, Tom Watson added another with his resignation, and now the SNP are teaming up with Plaid Cymru to use their time next week to force a debate on the dissolution of Parliament . Nick Clegg has thrown his support to the debate, and William Hague has called the SNP's bluff by announcing on Sky News that if dissolution were debated, the Conservatives would be in favour. Should it come to this, Dan Hannan and Iain Martin have both postulated that the Queen might need to exercise her unwritten constitutional right to dissolve parliament. This may yet come to pass.

For all Parties involved, this could be a case of 'be careful what you wish for'. The expenses debacle has battered Parliament, and the European Elections will be a litmus test for voter's intentions. While I doubt strongly that fringe parties would stand to gain much in a General Election, I have found it difficult to divine whether anger is directed equally at all MPs, or if the ire is concentrated on the Government. My suspcion is the latter, if only because the Conservative's reaction to the 'revelations' has been far more decisive, and with the greatest of respect, no one really cares too much about the Liberal Democrats anyway. They are, if anything, Labour-Lite.

From what I have gathered from those I have spoken to, people distrust Cameron simply for being a Tory. They fear he is just another Blair, but blue. Yet if you ask people to take Iraq out of the equation, you'll find a grudging admission that they really liked Tony, at least to begin with. Blair had energy, authority, and anger. He wanted to change things. Watching Cameron, you can see that same passion, and you can sense the barely contained fury as he watches a Labour majority do untold damage to Parliamentary democracy and worse, to the population of Great Britain. In that, at least, he captures the spirit of the nation.

My Labour-minded friends tend to be blinkered in their devotion, it is that classic tribalism which leads them to hold fast to their course even as their ship sails off the edge of the world. Slavish devotion to their party can only be tolerated so long as the party has the best interests of the nation, and of the individual, at heart. As soon as it begins to believe it knows better than its electorate, it deserves no longer to form a Government. That is a lesson Cameron would do well to remember. He speaks now of returning power to the people, a truly libertarian sentiment (ironically, Socialists often claim the same, however what they mean is power to the establishment, because they're smarter than you), and I sincerely hope he means it.

The European Elections will be the opinion polls to end all opinion polls for this Government. Even taking the anti-political contingent out of the equation, I suspect strongly that Labour are going to be pummelled.

As with Belshazzar, Gordon's days are numbered. The writing on the wall is the same now as then, and come election time, this unelected Prime Minister will be told as much: "Thou art weighed in the balance and art found wanting."

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