There's something perversely entertaining about watching the 'crash and burn' effect in human nature, whenever it occurs in human nature, and wherever it occurs in history: Rome under Nero, Austro-Hungary before World War I, late '60s Hollywood, late '70s Britain; the Tsar just before the Revolution, Eden after Suez, Nixon after Watergate, Thatcher around 1990.
I've been out of the loop with regards to the news since about December; this morning was the first time I'd bought a paper in ages. Hearing scraps of news in the middle of listening to the Phill Jupitus breakfast show on weekday mornings, I had the vaguest inkling that Tony Blair was in some trouble, something to do with the cash-for-honours scandal. It's now become apparent to every man, woman, dog and amoeba in this fair nation that Tony Blair's administration is fucked beyond hope. The phrase on everybody's lips is 'bunker mentality'.
That phrase, I have to say, gladdens my heart, because it means we're in for a political spectacle that should, at the very least, provide some minor distraction from the boredom of everyday life. Apparently even a number of Blair's people have rejected job offers elsewhere to stay and watch the downfall. The 'bunker mentality' is the most amusing of all political syndromes: isolation, paranoia, the sense of festering and slow decline. Blair, despite his ridiculously feeble position, is apparently even more resolved than ever to remaining in office to the bitter end, most likely June or July. And whilst the Labour party MPs protest (anonymously) to the papers, that he should step down because he is doing damage "to the party", I think that, frankly, he should stay in for that exact same reason. Over the next four or five months, we'll watch him stumble from crisis to crisis, just as he's stumbled from crisis to crisis beforehand. He'll be like Lear before the storm: delusional, claiming he wants to stay around to "finish what I started" or "complete my legacy", and increasingly impotent to get anything done. The debacles in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Home Office, the cash-for-honours scandal and the clumsily authoritarian security situation at home are only the beginning. There's going to be more trouble, more skeletons falling from the closet, because that's just the kind of administration Blair runs. And he'll be increasingly unable to deal with anything, defeated by opposition within his own party, from the media, and his own failing state. "All the lands that were thine own thou hast given away."
And it couldn't happen to a nicer man. He's sent hundreds of young men to be killed in countries whose populations and governments he doesn't give a shit about; he's devoted an extraordinary amount of attention to following the orders of his masters in America; he's tried to further wipe out what little stability nationalisation gave us, attempted to privatise the NHS, wiped out any hope of an efficient and cheap national railway system; he's fostered a culture of ultra-Thatcherite greed and ruthlessness, worsened the Thatcherite chasm between rich and poor, created the worst-educated generation since the 1900s; he's run the slimiest administration, so mired in filth - institutional racism, covert and overt oppression, under-the-counter dealing - since Reagan in America; he's filled the prisons, fixed the votes, given (or attempted to give) the police powers to kill or imprison whoever they please for as long as they please. And, to cap it all, he's holidayed at Cliff Richard's abode.
I'm counting down the days.