Little comfort for Blair among his own constituents in Sedgefield

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Indy Politics

The gloomy predictions about the Prime Minister's future emanating from his Sedgefield constituency in Co Durham yesterday suggested that he will need to go elsewhere if he is hoping for encouragement.

The prognosis did not look good at the former mining area of Trimdon, where Mr Blair keeps his constituency home. "The significance of what's happened today has not sunk in just yet but it will," said one local at the Trimdon Colliery Working Men's Club. "It might take until the weekend to do so but it will though. This is serious."

Others felt the same. "I've not known resignations like this before," said Bill Ellis, 78. He has voted Labour all his life and his loyalty to the Prime Minister has never wavered, unlike many in these parts who expected a more traditional brand of Labour policies after 1997.

But he added: "The writing is on the wall, it seems to me. You need to know when your time is up and when people have had enough of you. If he overstays his time it's going to do him no favours as far as how others remember him. He can name a date and leave with some dignity."

Other constituents felt that Mr Blair's foreign policy had put him out of touch with his party. "Look at Lebanon this summer," said one. "People were screaming out for a change of tack but he doesn't seem to have the antennae we once all knew he had here. That's what's behind some of this - not just his failure to name the day."

Others were more positive about Mr Blair's future. "It's just a lot of politics," said Theresa Jones, 18, a student. "He's actually a good MP and a strong prime minister who has known his mind and after 10 years doing the job he should go when he's ready. He shouldn't be pushed under any conditions." Mr Blair's closest political friend, his agent John Burton, said that he had "no indication whatsoever" of whether a timetable had been agreed, laying out when Mr Blair would leave. "Of course, if David Miliband and Hilary Armstrong are going on the television and talking about it, then they are close friends and close allies and it must have some credence," he said.

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