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Saturday, 17 May 2008


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I wonder how many of the phrases attributed to Ben Franklin were really his: 20%, 10%, 5%....?

Anyway, about Gordon. The question is, is it possible to use his inadequacy to finish the Labour party for ever? Back to Tories vs Whigs - that would be the thing.

Thanks, 'DM', I've never been much good at foreign languages! Correction completed.

As for Franklin, I can't pretend to know much more of him other than his sayings. Your remark made me read some more of them from my Dictionary of Quotations and if only half of them are his, he sounds like a shrewd, witty fellow. I particularly like: "He that will live upon hope will die fasting." I must look out for a good, recent biography, even if I know, glumly, that it will end up on the increasingly precarious pile of 'Books Yet To Be Read'. My ignorance on the American revolution is shameful.

As for your final hope, it will be fascinating to see if the snake of Old Labour succeeds in swallowing the carcass of New Labour as it enters its death throes. It seems to me that the real problem that the likes of you and I have, is figuring out a way to make the Tories, er, Tory!

Sorry for the late comment but isn't another explanation of Blair's decision on Iraq the calculation that he could trump Mrs Thatcher's real political courage concerning the Falklands with what looked to be a riskless foray into machismo? The heavy lifting was to be done (and was done) by the US and neither Blair nor, apparently Bush, gave much thought as to what was going to happen after the inevitable military victory. I suspect Blair - seeing this as "his" Falklands - imagined a swift return to normality with the equivalent of a career FCO Governor-General seated in Baghdad. In short, Iraq was a Blairite policy par excellence - ie war (rather than the usual legislation) as PR - not an out-of-character blip. The pity is that this policy didn't just waste British treasure (we've got used to that over the past 11 years) but wasted British (and other) lives.

It's never too late for an intelligent comment, Mr. Umbongo, and you make a very shrewd point. However, Blair did run a very real and high risk in taking on his own party to support - shock-horror - the Americans in a foreign "war for oil", even if, as was hinted at throughout his premiership, he viewed his own party with barely concealed contempt. Not the least of his problems at the time was the strong possibility that he would fail to take his party with him and go to war backed by the Tories - not a happy prospect for a Labour leader.

I guess, as so often in human affairs, it will prove almost impossible to disentangle the mixture of motivations that drove him to gamble - but you're right, vanity was certainly part of it. Just hope I live long enough to read a detached history of the episode.

"Just hope I live long enough to read a detached history of the episode."

Agreed but it's very disconcerting to see something that one's lived through become a part of "history".

When you get to my age you get used to it!

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