Unions tell Blair to go

08-09-2006

Union leaders have criticised the government for the instability and lack of unity it is so publicly demonstrating in the current row over Labour's leadership succession crisis.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has said he believes the entire government has been damaged by the ongoing row about when Mr Blair should step down as leader.

Speaking ahead of next week's TUC annual conference, Mr Barber told the Today programme that "it's self-evident to everybody that the kind of frenzy that we've seen over the last week has done the government nothing but damage".
"I mean just to say the impression of division that has been created seems to me to be particularly unfortunate, because although there are issues on which there are sharp differences, there's no clear ideological divide that's been driving all of this speculation and debate," he said.

Instead of backbiting and internal conflict Mr Barber wanted the transition to be "used as an opportunity to really give the government as a whole a lift, a new sense of purpose and direction, really addressing some of the issues on which they've been perhaps losing support from many of their traditional support bases".
Amicus general secretary Derek Simpson went further, saying that the prime minister should have resigned already.

He claimed that union representatives, whom he described as "Labour's foot soldiers", were in "open revolt" in frustration at government policies which he believes are "failing".
"The truth of the matter is this isn't about individuals," he explained.

"I have got the greatest admiration for Tony Blair – I think he's the most consummate politician that we've seen in our time. The problem is despite all his talent and ability… it's failing because the policies are not connecting with ordinary people.

"If someone comes in who is not as skilful as Tony, how can they possibly sell the same failing policies?"

Chairman of YouGov pollsters, Peter Kellner, told the BBC that polls showed most people had no particular preference for Mr Blair or Mr Brown and were "waiting to see" what Mr Brown would be like as prime minister.

"At the moment not that many people think he'll be great and not that many people think he'll be terrible; they're not yet sure," he said.

According to Mr Kellner the majority of the public think Mr Blair should go this year and a separate poll taken of Labour party members showed that 60 per cent of Labour party members wanted him to go before next May's local elections.


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