Whatever else happens in 2007 one thing seems certain, at some point Britain will have a new prime minister - even two, if David Cameron gets his way.
The single biggest political event of the year will almost certainly be the retirement of Tony Blair and the selection of his replacement.
And today we read more (Guardian) about the Blair hopefully soon-to-be-over leadership, and his most likely successor, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown.
Tony Blair's silence over the manner of Saddam Hussein's execution until he faces questions in parliament on Wednesday was developing into a test of his personal authority last night.
Downing Street was bounced into issuing a statement criticising the execution as "wrong and unacceptable" yesterday to defend the prime minister's decision not to comment. The trigger came when the chancellor, Gordon Brown, used an interview on the BBC's Sunday AM programme to join a chorus of ministers in describing the events surrounding the execution as "deplorable".
The Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, later accused Mr Blair of running a "dysfunctional government".
Mr Brown set out his future vision, which included giving greater power to parliament - such as having the right to vote on going to war - and encouraging people to become active in local politics.
The interview, which would normally be expected to be given by Mr Blair as a curtain raiser to a new session of parliament, focused on how the chancellor wanted the country to develop, including a warning to George Bush that he would be "frank" in defending Britain's interests.
Assuming Gordon Brown succeeds Tony Blair as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland (that's the UK's full name, you know), he's letting Britain and the world know that he plans to no longer be President Bush's lapdog — as Blair has often been pointed out to be on Iraq and other "war on terror" issues. The ruling Labour Party, which Blair heads for know as PM, is likely to see Brown as its leader by fall 2007 (that's this fall for all you who have not gotten your calendar bearings yet).
Blair came into power with a sweeping Labour party victory in 1997 and was reaffirmed as the former superpower's head in 2005, however, I am honestly sick of him and his neo-liberal economic, hawkish military New Labour ideology. I feel much more comfortable about Brown, but is he too boring? Brits seem to respond better to John Reid as though but charismatic. However the chance of Reid, a fellow Blair cabinet member with Brown, becoming the next prime minister are minuscule; Reid has stated that he will not attempt to take the reins — at least not for now.
Blair's tenure as head of the United Kingdom has included the important topics of economics (EU- and workforce-related) and the NIH (Britain's government-fun public health service) reform as domestic issues and Iraq and the Middle East (including Afghanistan) in general as well as national security (after the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks) as other topics. Blair has helped the economy some, but the NIH is in as much trouble as ever with its computer debacle, national security is being supposedly brought or is just a guise for taking away civil liberties, and Blair has been far too close to Bush in his worsening of the Middle East.
Here are some of the points (Guardian) Brown made about what he plans to do assuming he becomes the next UK PM:
· Parliament to gain powers under 'servant state'
· Plans for frankness with the US and cull of advisers
How Gordon Brown intends to transform government
· New independent commission to run the NHS to improve delivery of healthcare
· Examination of a similar education commission to supervise delivery of education
· Review of role of Department of Trade and Industry
· Parliament to get power to vote on whether Britain goes to war
· Government agencies, including police and security services, to be made directly accountable to parliamentary select committees
· Much tougher pre-scrutiny of legislation to ensure that fewer mistakes are made in law-making
· Reform of the Lords might be delayed
· Local police chiefs to be made accountable to local citizens' boards
· Cull of the old "Labour party apparatchik" political advisers, particularly in No 10 where they will be replaced by mainstream civil servants
· End of "sofa-style" government and strengthening of role of cabinet committees
· Abolition of special advisers' power to order civil servants to take action
To see the full Brown interview, broken down by topic, see this BBC News article.
Keep in mind, the centre-right Conservative Party (Wikipedia), the largest rival to Labour, has gotten the friendly, likable, and not all too conservative David Cameron as their head. Hell, he even convinced the party of Thatcher to change their symbol to a tree!
There is also the relatively minor opposition of the centre-left Liberal Democrats (Wikipedia), which holds 63 House of Commons seats compared to Labour's (Wikipedia) 354 and the Conservative's 198. (See how the Political Compass charts each party's ideology.)
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