I am certainly far from alone in noting the coincidence of both Blair and VilePin being under pressure from scandals at much the same time and I am no doubt far from alone in offering a compare and contrast.
Blair is under threat partly for the usual political slease and partly because his ministers and their departments seem to be incompetant. The behaviour of Charles "Safety Elephant" Clarke and Patricia Hewitt are to my mind far more serious than the various sleaze revelations. It doesn't matter whether it is cash for peerages or affairs with secretaries, sleaze seems to go hand in hand with politicians and what Rich Galen wrote recently about sleaze in Washington applies equally (with only the names changed) to the UK and, for that matter, France:
And as much as the Democrats wish they could say it's all the Republicans; I wish I could say it's all the Democrats.
It's both. Not all, but both.
Politicians have never been uniformly perfect and never will be so, while I agree that such scandals should be exposed, they don't mean that I feel worried about a particular country, or government, or democracy.
On the other hand the Hewitt and Clarke scandals are symptomatic of something more serious. Labour was (re)elected primarily on the premise that growing government and throwing money at government services would lead to their improvement and these scandals demonstrate quite clearly that this is not the case. Government bureacracies are wasteful in ways that private enterprises never are. There are certainly cockups in private companies but, on the whole, the scale of them is less because the market forces proper checks and balances and provides an incentive to avoid waste. It is notable that the companies that seem most wasteful are those who face limited competition and that waste seems to be go hand in hand with profits. Governments, their ministers and their bureaucrats don't have that incentive. The problem is not just that they are spending "other people's money" but that they have limited downside risk. In most cases having a government project go over budget has no effect on other government projects produced by the same department and even slighter effect on the bureaucrats and ministers involved. They are rarely fired and when they are they can frequently become re-employed. Think of the revolving door career of Peter Mandelson for example. It could just be that the British electorate is beginning to see that the Labour Tax'n'Tax'nSpend'n'Spend policy is failing and, one could hope (but it is, at this point merely a hope), the electorate is looking across the channel to see how deadly those statist policies are when taken to extremes.
Vile Pin's Problems
Vile Pin's problems may appear similarly split into sleaze and governance in that he is under fire for cocking up the CPE and for a sleazy scandal involing fake documents implicating people in corruption. However I think both scandals are symptomatic of the same problem, the problem of an arrogant out of touch elite under threat. This is clearly the case in the Clearstream affair where Vile Pin, probably under orders from l'Escroc, insisted that special attention be paid to the allegations against Sarko in order to try and sink his political career. In regard to the CPE, much the same applies but the logic is a bit more complex. The CPE was a poorly explained attempt to increase the employment by redegulating (with more regulations) the labour market but it was, IMO, doomed primarily because of the desire to counter Sarko. As a result of this desire Vile Pin felt he needed to look decisive in solving youth unemployment and his political tin-ear meant that he decided to ram the CPE through parliament without any debate and without any attempt to explain it to the country at large. The result was that it failed because the union scaremongering was never properly publicly countered.
Vile Pin has one other problem that Blair doesn't have - namely that he is the puppet of l'Escroc and the puppet master seems to have lost his touch. Over the last yeat l'Escroc has managed to alienate just about everyone in France (approval rating now 19%) and yet has done this basically without any positive successes at all. Worse, it is increasingly clear that l'Escroc has been seeking to do anything he can to remain out of jail and that he is in big trouble when he stops being president unless his successor can sort something out for him. This means that policy priorities have been a little skewed, which probably explains the lack of popularity, and the general sense of drift. In addition L'Escroc is, apparently, not in the best of health (shades of his predecessor Mitterand) which may be another reason why he has made so few public appearances recently. I could be wrong but it would not surprise me at all to learn that l'Escroc is far more ill than any journalist has yet reported and the result of this has undoubtedly been that Vile Pin has received no political advice from his mentor. Since Vile Pin is basically a bureaucrat with no clue about the public this lack has been a disaster. It is worth considering the contrast with 2002/3 when the Vile Pin/Escroc double team were far more popular (in France/Europe) because of their anti-Bush actions.
Compare & Contrast
On the whole I think that Vile Pin will last for a while yet because l'Escroc really doesn't have another puppet that he can use instead. Indeed the latest Clearstream news seems to indicate that the troublesome general has been sort of brought back into line and everyone has now got their stories and alibis aligned. The blame is being placed on excitiable journalists misunderstanding sources who may have made accidental comments that were taken out of context to mean something different. If you believe this then I have a bridge in Paris to sell you but, unless Vile Pin's latest press conference is more of a disaster than I expect, the obvious intent to try and bluff it out because there really isn't much hard evidence as yet. Longer term though Vile Pin is in big trouble. I simply can't see how he can avoid getting covered in the crap that will occur when l'Escroc is replaced next year.
Blair on the other hand has longer term security. Even if he goes and lets Gordon Brown take over he, personally, will not get investogated for much and if he is smart enough (he may well be), he could possibly quit, let Brown take over, and then blame Brown for any subsequent election loss. Of course, and again unlike Vile Pin, Blair has very few opponents who look electable. The Tories under Cameron still have a lot of work to do to get themselves into a position where they can differentiate themselves from ZANU labour.