And now where?

Eagle-eyed viewers will have been able to see yours truly on the television news recently. ITV wanted some pictures of campaigners knocking on doors, and we were nearby, and various cameras were at the polling station on Palace Street to see me greet the PM and Cherie as they came to vote. This was used as stock footage of him voting, but was picked up in some outlets because my Conservative opposite number, Louise Hyams, asked Cherie if she would be voting Conservative. Cherie said 'fat chance' as she walked towards the polling station itself and this was picked up by the sound equipment. Whoops.

Anyway, it was an excuse to put on my best suit, although the hat was verboten.

It's far too depressing to dwell on the local elections, but some thoughts come to mind.

We are going to have to do something more serious about the BNP. Pontificating on blogs about the evils of fascism isn't going to achieve much.

The question of Blair's successor needs to be dealt with in a rather more rational way. Even if TB stays on till close to the next general election, Gordon Brown will, in all probability, take over. John Reid attacking anyone who wants a quicker change, including Brownites, as Old Labour doesn't help matters; these comments will come back to haunt us.

There's an adage about every PM being forced out except Wilson, who left because of failing health. I have a suspiscion that Tony Blair would like to leave on his own terms, in a period of relative calm - on his own terms. Unless the summer is particuarly quiet, I don't see such an opportunity, and I think that he would be better off leaving with despatch rather than trying to slug it out.

There are a couple of years between now and the next elections - the Euros and London in 08 - which should allow us time to regroup and look vaguely electable. However, if the current state of affairs continues, and we have another second-order election like this, we will look weak coming into the next General. People are already talking - well, the Nick Robinsons of this world - about hung Parliaments and so on, and there is a real risk that this will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is a problem in that I don't think that Brown will differ significantly from Blair in policy terms. He may deal more astutely with the Labour party, differently with the media and have a spell of support from the public at large and from within the party, to an extent because he'd be new and so on.

Finally, we need to hope that people will vote more on local issues; kicking out a load of councillors who don't like Tony Blair anyway and are good at their job because of Tony Blair isn't a great way of doing things.



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