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Foreign Correspondent
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis


Copyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2005

March 28, 2005

LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair has been one of our eraís most successful politicians, but as he seeks a third term, many Britons wonder if itís time to change occupants at 10 Downing Street.

Blair will likely call an election in early May. British campaigns are mercifully short. By contrast, every four years, American voters suffer 6-7 excruciating months of hypocrisy, mud-slinging and windbaggery.

Blair is amazingly eloquent, silky smooth, always on top of his material, oozing compassion and missionary zeal from every pore. He has the knack of always sounding and looking like be really believes what he is saying.

But Blairís special magic, with its particular appeal to female voters, is no longer working. As East Africans would say, he has lost his ju-ju. Blairís once overwhelming popularity has crashed, and with it the fortunes of his Labour Party. For the first time in recent memory, Britainís politicians and voters are pondering life after Blair.

Iraq is the principal cause of Blairís fall from grace. Blairís justifications for invading Iraq were exposed as a pack of bare-faced lies. His ludicrous claim Iraq could attack Britain within 45 minutes with weapons of mass destruction made Blair look either a fool, which he is not, or an arch-schemer in an aggressive war to grab oil.

Interestingly, American voters proved far more forgiving than Britons of their governmentís lies and distortions. A majority of Americans didnít seem to care they were deceived into a war by a president who claimed Iraqi `drones of deathí massed in the North Atlantic were about to spray germs across the sleeping United States, or that Saddam Hussein was a threat to global security.

Americans just wanted revenge for the emasculating, humiliating 9/11 attacks. They didnít care whom they attacked, or why. Iraq, however innocent, was a perfect whipping boy. The US media joined his giant lynch mob.

Two years later, Britons, better educated and more worldly than their American cousins, remain disgusted by Blairís unctuous untruths. Britons are pretty cynical about their politicians, but they still harbor a quaint notion that people in public office must maintain a certain degree of truthfulness, and resign if their claims are exposed as untrue, or their policies turn to ruin.

Unlike George Bush, Blairís reputation has been seriously damaged. Why Blair chose to ruin his good name and perhaps career by joining an aggression as trumped up as Germanyís 1940 invasion of Poland, remains a deep mystery.

Blair could still win re-election in May. But only because Britainís squabbling opposition Tories under Michael Howard have put on a pitifully inept performance. Howard continues the post-Thatcher tradition of weak, stunted Tory leaders.

Howard failed miserably to capitalize on Blairís rush to war, and failed to capture the spirit or votes of the 75% of Britons strongly opposed to the conflict. Instead, like John Kerry in the US, Howard jumped on the pro-war bandwagon.

Now, however, the feckless Howard is beginning to contemplate what seemed impossible: becoming prime minister. Opinion polls show only a 2-point gap between the parties. Had the Tories a stronger leader, Blair would be out of a job.

Britain badly needs new leadership. Its health system is rotten, trains constantly crash, large parts of the north are a dreary slum. Blair has been so busy playing George Bushís Jeeves that he has neglected Britainís crumbling infrastructure. His Labour party rival, Gordon Brown, is just waiting to backstab Blair.

That Britain prospers, and its currency remains so strong, is due to Margaret Thatcherís reforms, not Blairís Labourites. Britain, in spite of outrageous prices, remains a haven in Europe of free enterprise and entrepreneurship.

But May elections are playing second fiddle right now to the upcoming royal nuptials of Prince Charles and Camilla Bowles. Alas, their wedding will be haunted by the ghost of Princess Diana.

Too many giddy British matrons remain infatuated by the media-hyped ghost of Lady Di. If ever there was a figure unworthy of being queen it was she. Palace sources tell me Diana was a childish nitwit, bulimic, hysteric, obsessed by gothic romance, movie magazines, hairdressers, and tawdry affairs with cads. Yet she has become, and remains, a semi-religious cult figure.

I hope that when the shy, sometimes goofy, but well-meaning Charles, and the rumpled Camilla finally become King and Queen, they exact lusty revenge on all the simpering snobs who insulted and belittled them for years. Off with their heads!

To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here

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    Eric Margolis
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    The Toronto Sun
    333 King St. East
    Toronto Ontario Canada
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