Thursday, September 07, 2006

Stay-put or Leave?

In British modern history, very few Prime Ministers stayed in office for more than five years. The exception was Conservative Margaret Thatcher who stayed in power for more than 10 years, which was considered as a record. She was under pressure to go, which she did tearfully. Now it’s the turn of the Labour Party to do the same with its leader, Tony Blair, who seems for some to have overstayed in his office. They want him to step down. It’s true that Tony Blair was first elected by the Labour Party to be its leader, allowing him through Labour Party majority in Parliament to become the Prime Minister.

But a leader is never immune from criticism. There are opposition parties which try to detect his weaknesses to have political points. There are aspiring members of his party who don’t want to be under the same leader for a long time and who want to take his position or vote for a new leader. There is also public opinion.

But in general, a party, to win with a landslide, needs a charismatic leader. Tony Blair has been such since his first year in office. His young age, eloquence and successful home policies secured him popularity and vote winning in the last three general elections.

Now it seems that the wheel of fortune has turned against him. Domestically, there are calls for his resignation. His foreign policy has been intertwined with that of George Bush, making him seem as servile to him. This is enough to portray him as taking UK in the wrong direction.

But to solve this problem, there should be ways to deal with such a situation. The parliament should vote if Mr Blair should stay in office. There should be a public referendum. Or simply, there should be a limited number of years a Prime Minister should stay in office regardless of his popularity or the victories of his party. This can spare the governing party divisions which can mar its chances in future elections.

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