Page 3 of 3   <      

Britons Feeling 'Tired of Tony'

In Islington, some people accuse Blair of abandoning his working class base, saying he did not fix up public schools as promised. They say he and his wife, Cherie, a lawyer, have become too interested in creating a wealthy lifestyle for themselves once Blair leaves office.

The Blairs' purchase in 2004 of a $6 million home in Connaught Square, using a huge mortgage, raised many eyebrows among working-class Britons. Cherie Blair's frequent speaking engagements around the world, which often fetch thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, have also drawn sharp criticism.

"People don't like politicians who come out of politics millionaires," Hulbert said.

Many also voice a growing claim that the candidate who promised to be "purer than pure" has opened the door to sleaze -- most recently over a scandal involving political donors.

On Thursday, police arrested Des Smith, a former government adviser who said he recruited wealthy sponsors for a cornerstone Blair initiative, a chain of public schools granted special independence. Smith had suggested to an undercover newspaper reporter that major donors to these academies could be recommended for government honors, including seats in the House of Lords, the upper house of Parliament.

Scotland Yard is investigating whether Labor -- as well as the opposition Conservatives -- have been peddling appointed seats in the legislature for money. Blair's office declined to comment on the arrest but has denied any wrongdoing in what's become known as the cash-for-honors scandal.

"The Conservatives were the ones with the sleazy reputation, but now, sadly, it's Labor, too," said Louise Tilghman, a mother of three pushing a baby carriage near Barnard Park in Islington. "Blair's ministers and friends have been involved in scandals. His wife runs around the world giving speeches trading on her position. And now this. It's sickening."

Still, in Islington, even some of those feeling Tired of Tony wonder whether he should go.

"I am not sure he should stand down," Hulbert said, "because there is nobody else out there."


<          3

© 2006 The Washington Post Company