Friday, October 01, 2004

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair heart treatment 'went well'

This is good news. It is somewhat strange the way that Clinton and Blair both suddenly had this problem in such a short period of time.

Blair is saying he will serve a full third term but not a fourth. I don't see how he can. Realistically he has to had over power at least a year before the election so that his successor can run as an incumbent. And that means that Blair will become a lame duck somewhat earlier than that.

If the current trend for four year terms continues that means an effective switch of power very early in a third Blair term. Cabinet ministers will be looking to please Brown, not Blair. I think that we will see an actual transfer of power much earlier, probably two years in, so that the new leader is installed before the summer recess.

This does not necessarily mean the end of Blair. Usually PMs retire to the back benches or quit parliament altogether. But this is because most PMs leave office involuntarily. The only PM that may have gone voluntarily since WWII is Harold Wilson and there is a good chance that he might have gone because he suspected he was getting Altzheimers.

Back in the 19th century when PMs did sometimes relinquish their grasp on power without having it pried from their hands the tradition was for the PM to become Foreign Secretary.

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