Monday, 29 January 2007

Punch-drunk Blair spots his last chance

Blair is pinning his legacy hopes on peace in Northern Ireland, says our Downing Street insider

Like Rocky Balboa, the ageing movie prize fighter, Tony Blair needs to pull one last victory out of the bag to secure his place in history.

The past weeks have been no help. He presides over a government in chaos. The combination of the ongoing police inquiry into cash for honours, the car crash of the Home Office, and his failure last week to attend the Commons debate on Iraq will be seen in years to come as the nadir of the Blair era.

Add the Attorney General and Lord Chancellor at daggers drawn over cash for peerage prosecutions and the Labour divisions over gay adoption and it couldn't get much worse - although John Reid assures us in today's Guardian that it will at the Home Office at any rate.

Yet if you watched Blair on The Politics Show yesterday, you'd hardly have believed that this was a politician floundering in his final months in office, clutching at straws in his bid for some sort of legacy. Perhaps the PM is in denial. More likely, despite the confident front, he knows exactly how perilous his position is.

All his hopes of securing his reputation are now pinned on the restoration of the devolved government in Northern Ireland following Sinn Fein's historic decision to recognise the province's police service.

It's a big gamble and Blair well remembers how his predecessor John Major's hopes of securing his legacy through peace in the province were dashed.

But this prime minister has precious few punches left in him so he is risking all on a power-sharing agreement to lift the gloom in Downing Street.

Blair would rather be remembered as a Rocky Balboa than a John Major. The next few weeks will tell whether he can go the distance or end up on the canvas. A lot depends on whether the police raise the ante by visiting No 10 again.
The First Post

Oh dear ... now we are going to be well and truly f*&ked!!!