Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Political Column

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Political Column

Article excerpt

Byline: By Chris Moncrieff

I suspect Michael Howard tucked into his Christmas turkey with far more relish than a week or two ago he would have thought possible.

Things were looking dire for the Conservatives. The opinion polls were bad, their performance in the House of Commons was unimpressive and Tony Blair seemed to be winning the argument hands down every time.

And it was beginning to seem as though the Tories were cruelly hounding David Blunkett out of his job.

But now events have caused Blunkett to fall on his sword. And that was not because of any dirty work by the Opposition.

It showed Blunkett was not quite so innocent as he made himself out to be. As this unwholesome business drags on (and it will) it looks certain Blunkett's reputation will take another pummeling.

But this was the Government which, after the sleaze which engulfed the John Major administration, was going to be, according to Blair, purer than the driven snow.

It has turned out to be about as pure as the driven slush.

It almost defies belief the PM should insist the enforced departure of his Home Secretary has left his integrity intact.

The fact remains that, just as in the case of John Major, this Government is now beginning to look seedy.

Michael Howard should at least regard what has happened as opening a chink of light for his party at the next General Election. Maybe now, he and his henchmen will start to exploit the disarray in which the Government finds itself.

Years ago, the Tories, when in opposition, were ruthless, keeping the Government out of their beds at all hours of the night, ambushing ministers with unexpected late-night votes, harrying them without mercy. In other words, they were doing the job that any opposition, of whatever party, should be doing.

Michael Howard and his merry men (and women) should now take every political advantage on offer of the Government's present plight.

It may be their last chance before the General Election.

And the clock is ticking...

WHAT a difference a year makes! Not so many months ago, all eyes were on Yvette Cooper, the high-flying Labour MP, widely predicted to become Labour's first woman leader and Britain's second woman Prime Minister. …

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