In case you're not up to speed, or if you're American or something (same thing?), Britain had some rather big local council elections last Thursday. Tony Blair's Labour Party lost 300 seats, I think that translated into about 19 councils round the country in real terms.
On Friday morning, Blair presided over a big cabinet reshuffle. The beleaguered Charles Clarke went, the beleaguered Tony Prescot went and then oddly Jack Straw (now former Foreign Secretary, Condy's counterpart in the UK) lost his post too.
So, being as he hadn't apparently done anything wrong as per Clark (oops I let lots of foreign prisoners disappear off our radar, we forgot to deport them, they commited further crimes including rape) and John Two-Shags Prescott (I'm sinking to tabloid depths now) ... what led to his sacking?
Yesterday's Independent on Sunday carried the following:
Jack Straw's fate was sealed in a phone call from the White House to Tony Blair last month, according to the former foreign secretary's friends.
They say President George Bush was furious that Mr Straw said it was "nuts" to use nuclear weapons against Iran, an option reported to be under active consideration
Downing Street had already warned Mr Straw repeatedly to tone down his complete rejection of the military route as "inconceivable", insisting it was important
to keep all options on the table.
Read the article: The Washington connection: Did Bush stick the knife into Jack Straw?
So, Straw could've gone because of American politics? Because Bush still harbours a desire to attack Iran with real weapons. Killing weapons.
OK, so let me put a cool head on things for a sec, not too easy to do in the face of a potential muslim v christian war (I believe that's how it's seen on the world stage).
The game has set in. Clearly a war of rhetoric has started. You can plot the escalating language from the Americans. It's about seeking resolutions, it's about getting things done, it's about calling Iran's bluff if nothing else. The same happens in reverse with Iran putting their point of view. And, to me, in a world with an impending energy crisis, it makes complete sense that Iran would want to look into a nuclear energy solution. After all it's apparently what both Bush and Blair have seized upon as the best answer currently.
But Straw said it was 'nuts' to think we'd go to war. I personally agree with him. There's so much more at stake here. In our 'global village' we're seeing society break down with the post 9/11 cross cultural scism. And an anti-superpower anti-capitalism scism too. The effects are now very real and apparent.
But equally ... all options, I guess, should "appear to be" on the table right now. The language of diplomacy is actually quite facinating. It's the same language as media spin ... and we all saw how Blair subtly shifted his rhetoric on the approach to the 2003 Iraq war. Just the dropping of occasional words for instance.
Diplomacy and media spin have different goals though, clearly, even if there are similarities.
Hey, former Labour Party PR man Alistair Campbell said something interesting yesterday which puts the media attack on Blair into perspective. He said something like: "media will always be able to find people who are against the prime minister to fill air time'. And he's right. Media do create stories. It can give false impressions. Even if they do give an apparent balance in a piece headlined 'Labour Party on brink of civil war' - the seed is planted in the public consciousness. And that's all that's needed to bring satisfaction levels down, to make pollsters whoop with joy when the next results show a drop of 5% in support of the prime minister, etc. "I'm always facing my worst week ever" Blair said to the excellent Nick Robinson the week before last after the so-called Black Wednesday. It's just a headline. There's no great truth. But at least the media acts as a check and balance on the political system and its people. Where would we be without media?
God I'd be fascinated to be a fly on the wall of some cabinet meetings, wouldn't you?
Just how many of those apparently carefully thought out plans presented to the British public were thought up 10 minutes before they were announced in a press conference? Just how much are they driven by the desire, or need, to appease media and political commentators such as Richard Hitler Littlejohn ... spit spit spit.
Monthly press conference with Tony Blair at midday today. Meeting with his Mps this evening. A potentially interesting political day ahead but bound to end with little drama and I have no real doubt that the press machine will smother the 'Blair must go' momentum. Ministers and party people are practically throwing themselves at TV cameras, microphones and reporters today.
Just blogging, brainstorming into my computer. I'm off to watch Noam Chomsky's manufacturing consent now.