Frank Dobson has always reminded me of Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses - a figure of complete ridicule, yet rather respected by his nearest and dearest. We Tories may poke fun at him but in the Labour Party people still have a sneaking admiration for him. On GMTV on Sunday morning Dobbo will be calling for Tony Blair to quit - and quit now. Here's what he will say.
Frank Dobson: Two years ago I said that I thought he would hang on for about two years after the general election and I don’t see him hanging on for very much longer and I think quite a lot of people would believe that it would probably be best if he stayed until after the local elections in England and the elections in Scotland and he could take responsibility for whatever happened then and it would probably be better if his successor, most likely to be Gordon Brown, could sort of pick up the pieces afterwards rather than be blamed in any way for however badly we did, but I do get the impression, again since I’ve come back, that quite a few people who held that view are now thinking that things are getting into such a mess that it would be better if Tony Blair went now even if it meant that Gordon Brown did have to take some responsibility for our electoral performance in May.
Steve Richards: Is that increased in your view?
Frank Dobson: Yes it is in that I think I’m along with the others. I thought well probably best for him to be around till May/June and then go, but things do seem to be rather falling apart. And I think that one of the biggest problems that John Major’s government faced in the end was that it looked as though it was not really in charge of things and there is an air arising in the government at the moment that people are not quite in charge of their departments and I think that whatever else British people like or don’t like, they don’t like the idea of the government not being in charge.
Steve Richards: So you’re coming more to the view of sooner the better?
Steve Richards: What would that mean in effect then? He would go quickly and Gordon Brown would be in place before the May local elections?
Frank Dobson: Yes, I expect that he would, and it would mean presumably that Tony Blair, I think the procedure would be he would resign as leader of the Labour party, the Labour party would then elect a new leader and that new leader would then become the Prime Minister.
Steve Richards: Well it will be interesting to see how it all develops over the next few months. If that doesn’t happen and this extraordinary period continues for another 5 or 6 months, what do you worry will be the impact on your party and the government?
Frank Dobson:Well I don’t think it is just an impact on the party, I think it would be an impact on the country – I’ve been predicting that the Prime Ministers authority would go down and it wouldn’t go down in a steady slope, there’d be the odd cliff and then a plateau and then another cliff and I think we are going down a pretty steep slope at the moment and it is likely to get worse and I think it also means foreign affairs as well, if Tony Blair is going to international meetings people are thinking well there’s not much point in talking to this man because he’s not going to be around – it’s this other man Brown that we need to be talking to.