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Politically Incorrect: Blair under a cloud as Sunshine Boys get revenge at last.

Byline: Chris Buckland

REVENGE, like turkey leftovers, is a dish best served cold. And, talking of turkeys, vengeance is precisely what the so-called "election" of George W. Bush has achieved for his dear old dad.

He has been waiting eight years to get his own back on the Democrats for the humiliation of being booted out of the White House by a country hick like Bill Clinton.

But the former President George H. Bush (gee, what imagination these Americans have when it comes to picking names) wasn't the only former leader to go to bed with a smile on his face last week.

Our own John Major must have been dreaming about settling a few scores with the young whippersnapper who sent him packing from 10 Downing Street almost four years ago, Tony Blair.

The former Tory Premier and his wife Norma are still big buddies with the ex-President, and have even spent holidays at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

How could this possibly affect Mr Blair's relations with the new President? Well, few people doubt that 75-year-old Daddy Bush will have a huge influence on what goes on in Washington from now on.

The old advisers are already being dusted down for key jobs and will keep in close touch with their former boss while his idiot son plays with the Presidential train set and has fun planning new methods of execution - his favourite pastime during his six years as governor of Texas, when more than 150 got the chop.

The revenge of the Sunshine Boys means that old buddies Bush and Major will be sharing out the goodies of power while poor Mr Blair is left with his face pressed against the sweetshop window.

The Prime Minister certainly sounded shaky as he spoke about his "friendly and warm" eight-minute phone call to the President-elect. And he has every reason to be worried. Not only have the two men never met, it was the first time they had even spoken. Indeed there were panic stations in Downing Street when the Bush baby finally stole the most powerful job in the world.

Mr Blair and his chums have steadfastedly refused to build bridges with the Republicans over the past year. The Premier even ignored my own prediction last January that George W. was heading for victory - what nerve.

True, the Premier did learn some lessons from John Major's blatant backing of President Bush for a second term in 1992. That resulted in frosty relations with Bill Clinton, which warmed only when Mr Major was in his final year.

But Mr Blair didn't learn all the lessons of his predecessor's blunder. While he kept Labour officials out of actively campaigning in the recent battle, he left no doubt that he wanted Vice-President Gore to win. Bob Schrum, a senior Gore adviser, has been taken on as a hired gun by Downing Street, and more particularly by Chancellor Gordon Brown who stays with him during his annual holidays in the States (indeed some of the inner circle think Mr Scrum's real job is to ensure Gordon becomes Prime Minister as soon as possible).

There was no secret that Mr Blair hoped to continue the "third way" alliance he established with Mr Clinton. And the Downing Street Chief of Staff Jonathan Powell has been in constant consultation with the Democrats over Labour's re-election campaign.

That now lies in ruins. Indeed even Mr Hague managed to get his call in first to President-elect Bush. Though the man who wouldn't know the difference between "abroad" and "a broad" probably put the phone down and asked: "Who was that funny-sounding guy?"

After all, the only time they met George W. insisted on calling the Tory leader "Jim".

Mr Hague shouldn't get his hopes up though, if he thinks the man who becomes President on January 20 will help him recover from the electoral abyss.

True the Bush baby invented "compassionate Conservatism" which young William once fancied copying. But his idea of compassion is refusing the condemned man a last ciggie in case it gives him cancer.

Meanwhile the Sunshine Boys can afford to grin as the dark clouds gather for the men who gave them the old heave-ho. Revenge, cold or hot, sure is sweet.

CAPTION(S):

And right now it is George W. Bush, the Republican governor of Texas and son of the former president, who is heading for victory over Democrat vice- president Al Gore.; I TOLD YOU SO...January 16
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 17, 2000
Words:749
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