Monday, August 07, 2006

Miliband to resign?

Has Miliband been asked to resign?

James Cusick, the Westminster Editor of the Scottish Sunday Herald, reported yesterday that maverick Labour backbench MPs have been asking dissenting Cabinet ministers to resign over the Prime Minister's failure to take an independant stance over the middle east crisis. They argue that if those Cabinet ministers who voiced concerns over the proportionality of the Israeli response were to resign it would signal the fact that Blair is not leading a united government.

During his monthly press briefing last week, Blair admitted some members of his Cabinet had doubts about his handling of the crisis in Israel and Lebanon. He said he was not surprised there was "anxiety" over his refusal to criticise Israel or to call for an immediate ceasefire.

One former minister said:

"There is now every prospect that Tony Blair will address the Labour Party conference in just seven weeks' time against a backdrop of continuing fighting and expect a rousing endorsement of his premiership. That will be a farce, a damaging farce, which this party will pay for in falling support and disappearing respect. "

The cabinet members understood to have been targeted are Jack Straw, the Leader of the Commons and former Foreign Secretary, plus David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, and Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary.

All criticised the government line last week by stating that, without calling Israel's attacks "disproportionate", it would make the future stability in the Middle East harder to achieve.

South Shields MP David Miliband is currently on holiday in Ireland researching their experience of the "plasic bag tax", and with his record of having NEVER voted against the government in a division, it is highly unlikely that he will heed this call. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor is remaining tight lipped once again - but he would considering he will be the benefactor of any such moves to bring an early end to Blair's premiership. But the episode does show how much dissent there is within the Labour Party and the extent to which some MPs are willing to press the case for a change in leadership.

I guess it's no surprise that Blair is unwilling, just yet, to join his family in Barbados, we all remember what happened to Mrs. Thatcher when she took a holiday!


The Sunday Herald

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