Cal Thomas in the Washngton Times reports that Tony Blair’s poll numbers are in decline. It’s not because the British think the war with Iraq was a bad idea. Most of those polled say that the war was justified. Blair’s problems seem to arise on two fronts. First, many British apparently believe that Blair wasn’t honest on the question of weapons of mass destruction. Why is Blair experiencing this problem to a much greater degree than President Bush? Thomas says it’s because Blair is taking a much heavier pounding from the media (believe it or not). In addition, Blair has been in power much longer than Bush. Voters tend to trust leaders — especially slick leaders like Blair — less the longer they remain in office.
The other reason for Blair’s slide has nothing to do with the war or with voter fatigue. Blair stands for closer relations and greater integration with Europe. British voters, sensibly, are wary of this project.
The Conservative Party is the potential beneficiary of Blair’s woes. Apparently, from the voters’ current perspective, the Conservatives are on the right side of the war issue (without being viewed as having been dishonest about it) and the issue of European integration. However, as Thomas notes, Blair is a politician of considerable talent. And he still runs slightly ahead of the Conservative leader in the polls.
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