ROUTLEDGE: MORE FALSE BLAIR SOUNDBITES
By Paul Routledge
January 30, 2003
A NEW regulatory body acting as watchdog for the folly of Tony Blair is
It will be called Ofgaffe, and it will monitor the Prime Minister's
bad-tempered mistakes at weekly question time in Parliament.
The need for such an institution was clearly established yesterday, when
Blair was all over the place.
He signalled plans to invade North Korea. He pledged to give MPs the
right to decide on deployment of troops in Iraq, and then rowed back. And
he offered to impose a Tony Crony second chamber in place of the House of
For one day, this was quite a catalogue of cock-ups. He did not have
control of the agenda, and it showed.
It takes political incompetence of a very high order to show Iain Duncan
Smith in a good light, but Blair was equal to the task. Fingers jabbing
all round the chamber, he fluffed every big question.
Oh yes, as John Major would say, oh yes, it was deeply embarrassing.
No wonder his backbenchers sat there with faces like John Prescott
chewing a wasp.
IDS was so confident he lost the frog in his throat and hounded Blair
with questions he could not answer, not just on Iraq but on the vexed
question of asylum seekers. The more the PM got out of his pram, the more
we realised we were getting soundbites - not the truth.
Of course it would be unwise to read too much into this mood shift at
Westminster. William Hague regularly thrashed Blair at Question Time.
Look what good it did him.
Ofgaffe will bring you regular reports from this political theatre.
On the evidence of yesterday, the times they are a'changing.