Blairlukemacgregorap_1 Tony Blair's expiration date just got moved up a jot. The Tories now have an eight percent lead over Labour. Blair now has exactly Bush's approval rating: 31 percent. Money quote from a Labour parliamentary rebel: "We have been eyeball to eyeball, and the prime minister has blinked."

Everyone knows that Gordon Brown will be fighting the next election as Labour leader. And so the next few months become an interminable series of internecine Labour spats, uncertainty, and Machiaveliian maneuvring. That can only help the opposition, now calmly united by the pleasant but, until now largely vacuous, leadership of David Cameron. It seems to me that Blair's chances for pushing through real reform of pensions and the health service are all but lost. He should quit now, give Brown a chance to prove himself, and give the Brits a year or two to measure the comparative qualities of Brown and Cameron as future prime ministers. Two recent prime ministers hung on to office, past an obvious chance to get out while the going was reasonably good: James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher. Both regretted their inability to walk away from Number 10. Blair should heed that history and go soon. Like before the summer.

(Photo: Luke MacGregor/AP.)