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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Tony Blair losing support because of lingering war

The world has changed a lot and become woefully more dangerous since a youthful and wildly popular Tony Blair led the Labour Party to its first victory in 1997 after nearly two decades of being out of power.

Some observers say he is weary, that the sparkle in his eyes is gone, that he looks older than his 53 years now that he's into his third term as prime minister of Great Britain.

Polls show that the British are growing increasingly tired of Tony, and some Labour Party members fear he will lead them to defeat if he doesn't soon set the date to leave office. They want him out well ahead of the 2009 elections, so they can bring in fresh leadership.

Polls show a majority of British now favoring the Conservative Party, even after re-electing Mr. Blair last year.

Six junior members of his government quit in protest Wednesday. Five others left their posts rather than remove their names from a letter that demanded Mr. Blair set a timeframe for his departure.

Mr. Blair, perhaps, has stayed too long in office, but his loss of popularity coincides with President Bush's fall in opinion polls here at home.

The twin slippage may not be coincidence. Like their American cousins, the British grow more weary of the war in Iraq each day. Like the Americans, the British increasingly don't connect worldwide terrorism to Iraq.

Nor do they approve of the president and prime minister's handling of the war. The war wasn't supposed to last long, but it's now into its fourth year and as the political leaders said in the dark days of the Vietnam War, no one sees a light at the end of the tunnel.

If he announces now when he will step down, Mr. Blair becomes a lame-duck prime minister. If he stays, the growing revolt inside his party adversely affects his ability to lead.

If the polls say anything, they say President Bush's lack of popularity worldwide is Mr. Blair's liability at home.

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