Is Blair Just the Front Man for a Socialist Conspiracy ? ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: PETER HITCHENS

IT grows harder each day to believe that we are being governed by grownups. Our alleged Prime Minister behaves like an actor who has wandered on to the stage in the middle of the wrong play.

On Wednesday, Mr Blair wrecked his plans for a Euro referendum by accidentally revealing the timetable.

On Friday, he stood speechless before the Press at the end of a pointless Anglo-French conference, too baffled or too badly briefed to answer questions about the increasingly strange behaviour of Peter Mandelson. President Chirac, bemused, asked him: 'What's it all about?' Our leader replied: 'Don't even bother to ask. It's a home problem.' Indeed it is. Until a few weeks ago, Mr Mandelson was at the heart of the British State, a Cabinet Minister privy to the deepest secrets, the Prime Minister's pampered confidant. Now he careers about the political world like a Dalek with a headache; colliding with TV cameramen in graveyards; writing garbled defences of his behaviour; descending on newspaper offices to offer briefings and then dismissing the resulting stories as speculation.

Nobody can stop him confessing his woe about the resignation he never meant to submit or the 'ghastly road accident' to which he compares his downfall. Downing Street mutters that he is 'detached'. But if he is detached now, he was detached before. The difference is that he is no longer part of 'The Project'. The ministerial, dignified Mandelson and the furious, vengeful Mandy are the same person. It is obviously wrong that anyone so volatile should be anywhere near power.

But it is good that we should at last realise this. The more he rages, the more the hole in the heart of New Labour may be exposed. We may see that we have for years been the victims of a tremendous fraud which has all along been designed for one purpose - Labour's first full second term.

Labour has never achieved this because it has tried too hard to please its own supporters in the first few years. This has led to high taxes, inflation, economic crisis and defeat. The Tories have then reversed most of Labour's work.

This time, the plan was different.

Labour supporters could moan if they wanted to. It was Tory voters who needed to be coddled. There would be major changes in the first term, but they would be 'boring' constitutional reforms which most people wouldn't care about even though they enormously increased the power of Downing Street.

There would be tax increases, but they would be so subtle that people would not realise their pockets were being picked. There would be huge increases in public spending, but they would come late. Any resulting chickens would not have time to come home to roost before the Election. …