Thursday, May 05, 2005

Tony Blair: Keep that Stiff Upper Lip...

A couple of novelty grenades went off at the British consulate in New York early this morning, at around 3:30 or so. Police Chief Ray Kelly says they’re “novelty grenades” that were filled with black powder—homemade grenades, basically. It’s probably no coïncidence that this happened on Britain’s Election Day, at around 8:30 Greenwich Mean Time. But what could be the M.O.? Who could be behind it?

The first thing that flashed into some minds was the horrible bombing that happened in Spain on their Election Day. Some speculated that this bombing might be along those lines, designed to punish the sitting government. But if that’s true, then wouldn’t it make more sense to commit the terrorist act in London? Why in New York, in a building that has nothing to do with the conduct of elections in the first place?

My hunch—and I have no information—would be that it’s a domestic job, done by Americans. Whether it’s by Americans who hope this will punish Blair for joining Bush’s war or whether it’s done by Americans who want to put fear in people’s minds so that they’ll favor the opposition Conservative candidates is impossible to say. At any rate, anyone who sees al Qaeda in this is barking up the wrong tree.

As to the British elections today: I’ve been hearing rather ho-hum predictions. Labour is expected to lose seats while the Tories and Liberal Democrats are expected to gain. Blair will keep his job, but with a drastically weakened mandate, and he’ll likely be forced out next year. Turnout is expected to be low. Voters seem to be upset with Blair, but they’re not so desperate that they’d throw the baby out with the bath and invite a Conservative government in.

I haven’t studied these elections enough to comment with much detail, but I’ll just repeat everything I’ve been reading and say that this sounds likely to me.

It’s a pity that Blair threw so much of his potential away by hitching his wagon to an unlucky star like Bush, who has not only been at least partly responsible for bringing down the government in Iraq, but the governments in Spain and Italy, as well. Britain’s government will almost certainly be weakened by this, and Mexico’s might also suffer, with President Fox not being esteemed highly for his “friendship” with Bush. Hard way to learn a lesson.

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