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Tories bail out Blair

Has the end of British PM Tony Blair and his Labour government begun?

india Updated: Mar 17, 2006 03:35 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt

Has the end of British PM Tony Blair and his Labour government begun?

Blair was on Wednesday able to get through the House of Commons his controversial school reform plans after total reliance on the Tories to bail him out of a dogged rebellion by his own backbenchers. MPs voted by 458 votes to 115 in favour of plans to give schools more control over admissions and budget.

But 52 Labour backbenchers rebelled and another 25 MPs did not vote. Blair is now likely to face questions over the extent to which his authority may have been damaged by the revolt.

Critics have said the vote showed Labour MPs had lost confidence in Blair, although Home Secretary Charles Clarke told the BBC such rebellions were “a fact of political life.”

But, Blair is now being compared to Ramsay MacDonald, the most controversial Labour Prime Minister who in 1931 split the Labour Party by leading it into a coalition national government with the Conservatives and a few Liberals.

Labour's rebel MPs said Blair ceased to be the party’s leader when he let the Tories help pass his Bill. John McDonnell, chairman of the left-wing Labour Representation Committee, said Blair “effectively resigned as leader”.

Blair called the Education and Inspections Bill a “defining moment” but his critics called it a great betrayal.

First Published: Mar 17, 2006 03:35 IST