TONY BLAIR may not be able to recover his authority and leadership after recent damaging events, former Blair Home Secretary, Clarke has said.
Charles Clarke was Blair’s key minister, a Home Secretary willing to fight to give the police 90 days to interrogate a suspect without having to charge him or her – a police chief’s idea of heaven.
He was also willing to steer through the House of Commons major powers for the Home Secretary and major attacks on workers’ liberties, allegedly in the interests of ‘security’.
He gave the Home Secretary the power to institute no-jury trials, in which the accused would not even be able to see the ‘evidence’ against him or her, and was completely at the mercy of the state.
He also presided over giving the Home Secretary the power to intern without trial, in the form of unlimited house arrest.
Clarke was a supporter of Blair’s efforts to rebalance the scales of justice and bring in, as part of the rebalancing, summary powers for the police and the individual police officer, where he or she would be judge, jury and executioner all at the same time.
He was also an enthusiastic supporter of the Blair privatisation campaign. He was the key Blairite, and openly let it be known that when his master was forced to quit, he would not accept an unchallenged progression by Chancellor Gordon Brown into the premiership. Clarke was going to fight him.
Then – with massive working class opposition rising to Blair’s privatisation plans and his drive for police state powers – came the Clarke debacle.
The Blairites’ contempt for bourgeois democracy had previously led many of them to feel and act as if they were ‘untouchable’.
Among these were Peter Mandelson, who was sacked twice, as was Blunkett. Others forced to quit include Keith Vaz, the Minister for Europe and Geoffrey Robinson the Paymaster General. While the working class seemed to be relatively passive the damage limitation that was required seemed to work. However, in a different situation Clarke was hoisted by his own law and order petard, when it was discovered that over 1,000 foreign criminals who should have been subject to deportation after completing their sentences had not been.
He had stood with Blair, but Blair could now not afford to stand by him in the face of the outcry over the man who had put himself forward as the country’s chief jailer.
Clarke is now repaying Blair in kind. He told BBC Radio 4’s ‘On The Ropes’ that he had previously thought Blair should say he would quit in late 2008.
Now his thinking is along different lines.
‘The best option would be for Tony to recover that leadership and authority and direction and to carry that through over a period of time, in my view,’ said Clarke.
‘Whether he is able to do that – because he has been damaged by recent events – whether he wants to do that, is not a matter for me, really.
‘I simply observe there are a lot of doubts about it and I share some of those, that’s true.’
The man who had no doubts about his leader’s policies is now full up to the brim with doubts about the leader. However, he is a Brutus who wants somebody else to plunge in the dagger.
Clarke also turned on his successor Reid, who damned the Home Office as not being ‘fit for purpose’. Clarke pointed out that this was being said ‘after nine years of Labour government’. Meanwhile, the rest of the Blairite pack are busy fighting each other like dogs over a bone for John Prescott’s job, and are not worried about much else.
Clarke’s ‘fight back’ has doubly confirmed that Blair and his government are like ‘dead men walking’ waiting to be given a burial, with the stench rising fast. This is a job for the trade unions.
With this crisis-ridden government planning, with the support of the Tory Cameron, to mount savage new attacks on the NHS and pensions, the trade unions must act to bring the Blair government down with a general strike.
They must bring in a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies, to defend workers’ jobs, rights and the Welfare State, and expropriate the bosses.