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Labour are in a bad way.

ROBIN Cook made a brave attempt to keep smiling in public yesterday despite the mauling by his ex-wife.

The Tories were desperate to taunt him over her allegations of serial adultery, boozing and depression.

But the Foreign Secretary gave an accomplished performance in the first sitting of the House of Commons in 1999.

True he was talking about the Yemen - where kidnapping Britons has become a national sport - but Cock Robin stole the show.

He batted away compliments from his own side as easily as he dismissed the Conservatives - who completely misjudged the mood of the House.

Most MPs were instinctively on Robin's side. As well they might be, with skeletons jangling noisily in cupboards all round the chamber.

In return, Cook promised MPs that he would "bring the full truth into the open" about Yemeni crimes.

My reaction was to ask: "Yes, and when do we get the WHOLE truth about the Mandelson affair? Will that ever be published?"

One good day for Throbbin' Robin does not wipe out the past three disastrous weeks, which have robbed New Labour of one Cabinet Minister, one Paymaster General and one press secretary to the Chancellor.

The Prime Minister returned from the Seychelles at the weekend, promising a campaign by top Ministers to bring the country back to its senses.

Some blitz. Yesterday we had Jack "The Enforcer" Cunningham admitting the Government has been damaged by recent events.

Events, you may remember, that were caused by Ministers themselves - Peter Mandelson resigning over a "serious error of judgment", for instance.

Then we had Gordon Brown piously promising a modern, new economy for the 21st Century that will enable individuals to make the most of their talents. Sorry, Gordon. That's sloganising.

No wonder Tory William Hague slagged off Blair's Big Show as "not so much a relaunch, more a rehash".

Infuriatingly, I have to agree with him.

The Government is still well ahead in the opinion polls. The people have not lost faith.

But the so-called Third Way is in a bad way. It cannot be long before voters catch on, and then watch out for trouble.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Routledge, Paul
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 12, 1999
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