Pressure still on for the PM

AS term ends in Parliament the Prime Minister finds himself under greater pressure than ever.

A keen guitarist, he may find himself strumming the Summertime Blues.

The continuing controversy about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction has led some commentators to suggest Tony Blair could even be deposed as Labour leader and Prime Minister.

History suggests that this is unlikely because, unlike the Conservatives, the Labour Party has never booted out one of its leaders.

The first Labour Prime Minister, Ramsey MacDonald effectively sacked himself, when in 1931 he decided to form a national government in response to the banking crisis.
Hugh Gaitskell and John Smith both died when leader, and Harold Wilson, Cardiff's Jim Callaghan and Neil Kinnock resigned.

Even Michael Foot, 90, this week, stood down voluntarily after he led Labour to its most disastrous defeat in 1983 when its share of the vote fell below 28 per cent.

Contrast that with the Conservatives. From Neville Chamberlain to Margaret Thatcher they have axed unpopular leaders.

Ironically, the success of Gordon Brown may be the most important factor in keeping Tony Blair in office for a long time to come.