The last days of Tony Blair


by Leon
30th April, 2007 at 4:07 pm    

We are entering into the final period of Tony Blair’s crumbling premiership, he’s had a long time in power and faces his last days drowning in bad polls.

That said, to win three elections at the head of a party previously seen as unelectable is quite an achievement; Blair has his place in history. It may not come in quite the form he may wish but he will be long remembered whether we like it or not. Predictably there will be a scramble to influence/shape the character of that historical record…

So, ten years of ‘Blairism’, a huge amount of controversy (enough scandals to beat even the last days of the Major Tory government) and ‘radical’ decision making but to what end?

What are your impressions of his time in power, how have things changed in this country, for the better or worse? Are you glad to see the back of him or sad to see him go?


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  1. Kismet Hardy — on 30th April, 2007 at 4:24 pm  

    I’ve interviewed Tony Blair, up in his office at No 10. Much as I wanted to dislike him or, at the very least refuse to be star-struck, he NLP’d me into submission. He used my name a lot, leant forward, mirrored me and laughed at my jokes, the bastard. I listened to the interview on my dictaphone the other day and, while I reckon I did an okay job, the way he fooled me into answering my questions when he said what he wanted to say was amazing. My thought on the man: I can see why he’s a leader.

    Unlike George Bush, who I think me and my most doped out mate could run rings around in the pub, I have no illusions that I’d get whooped in any debate with Tony Blair

    He screwed up over Iraq, but considering we had John Major and Maggie Thatcher screwing up for us before him, I for one will kinda miss him

  2. AsifB — on 30th April, 2007 at 4:54 pm  

    Kismet (as ever) is right, we’ll miss the dude when he’s gone. The reason why ‘real’ Labour voters and the anti-Tory majority of this island may find it hard to forgive him, i sthat like his fellow charismanaut Clinton, he has hollowed out his own party, allowing the way back in for the tories.

    With Cook and Mo dead, Straw and Blunkett discredited, there is no one sufficiently famous to ‘lead’ against the tories apart from dour Brown (who is as much an architect of New Labour’s timidity as Blair).

    If Blair hasd simply followed the logic of the first time, and shooed in regional assemblies (a la GLA ) on England elected by PR, (reducing the number of Westminster MPs in turn) we’d have a recipie to keep the latent English Tory tendancy penned into the petty minded parts of the South where it belongs.

    As it is, the devolution acts in themseleves plus the election wins more than stand as a legacy of sorts. Such a pity he had to get into bed with a weird Republicanclique with no interest in nation building.

  3. Duc De Nemours — on 1st May, 2007 at 9:34 am  

    I always like Kismet’s posts too.

  4. Duc De Nemours — on 1st May, 2007 at 9:41 am  

    AsifB

    You should read Assassin’s Gate, Fiasco and even Bob Woodward’s third book. The catastrophe is more than just a lack of interest in nation building. It’s different parts of the US government pursuing their own agendas – some of which may have included a strong desire to do something sensible – conflicting with eachother, all the while lead by a deeply uncurious President with no interest in asking questions as to what was going on.

    It’s unacceptable

  5. The Common Humanist — on 1st May, 2007 at 10:13 am  

    I too will miss Blair to an extent – I thik he is a good day to day Chief Exec.

    The question these days is how to spend large amounts of public money and not whether there should be investment in public services – a decisive gain for working class types like myself.

    Even Iraq was a good idea in theory – take down fascist* dictator etc – let down by severely incompetant Allies etc.

    Without Iraq he wouldn’t have half the unpopularity he has now, thats for sure!

    Anyways, all in all 7/10 (including a 10/10 for effort but let down by a 6/10 for outcomes)

    *At least Blair, unlike a worrying % of the Left/Centre Left can actually spot a genuine hard right fascist and confront them. Thats harder then just shouting ‘Bliar’ or ‘Bushitler’ and going back to comfortable existance.

    TCH

  6. Leon — on 1st May, 2007 at 10:52 am  

    Even Iraq was a good idea in theory – take down fascist* dictator etc – let down by severely incompetant Allies etc.

    Except that wasn’t the theory. The war was sold on the lie about WMDs, when the lie was exposed (along with several dossiers of idiocy) the propaganda shifted to “removing a dictator”…

  7. ziz — on 1st May, 2007 at 10:56 am  

    You are extraordinarily naive if you believe Mr Blair is going real soon now. His capacity to amaze will amaze us all.

    Mr Blair will still be PM @ Christmas.

  8. Leon — on 1st May, 2007 at 11:00 am  

    Well, he’s said as much today:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6610623.stm

  9. douglas clark — on 1st May, 2007 at 11:03 am  

    ziz,

    You know something we don’t?

  10. douglas clark — on 1st May, 2007 at 11:10 am  

    Leon,

    I think Blairs autobiography will cover the interegnum between GW1 and GW2 in a lot of detail. I expect him to say he had sleepless nights over the million odd excess deaths that the sanctions regieme was causing. I expect him to say that he felt for the common Iraqi citizen.

    In other words, he’ll spin it. It’s what he does.

    It is odd how quickly people forget that there was no good legal reason for the invasion, at the time, and that all the nation building and democratic stuff only came much later. I have never understood, exactly, why he took us into that war. It is certainly not out in the public prints.

    If the desire was to overthrow Saddam Hussein, arming the internal resistance would have seemed a better option. The Yanks are very, very good at that sort of thing.

  11. Leon — on 1st May, 2007 at 11:19 am  

    It is odd how quickly people forget that there was no good legal reason for the invasion, at the time, and that all the nation building and democratic stuff only came much later.

    Fair point, I often wonder the same. I guess if you hear the propaganda long enough without an effective counter (thanks SWP for running the Stop The War Coalition into the ground…) then it becomes easy to believe them?

  12. The Common Humanist — on 1st May, 2007 at 11:21 am  

    Douglas, Leon
    Not exactly. Blair set out the case for humanitarean intervention in his famous Chicago speech and the Iraq Liberation Act was signed into Law by Clinton.

    What Blair failed to do was have the courage of his convictions and put the case for humanitarean intervention to the fore rather then the narrow – and highly suspect – WMD case which took centre stage.

    The Why for Blair was about human rights, the mistakes of the past – i.e. we owed the Iraqi people for letting them hang in 91 and the fear of what another ten years of sanctions woudl do to the country plus the need to support the Americans through thick and thin.

    If it was all just about Oil we could have just lifted sanctions and bought SH off.

    Arming the Opposition – I think we blew that play in 91 unforts. The heart was ripped out of Shia Civil Society and it has not really recovered since.

    Having said that the US was never in the mood to try anything subtle. Twats.

  13. douglas clark — on 1st May, 2007 at 11:42 am  

    The Common Humanist,

    I had heard of the famous Chicago speech. Where our Tony addressed a lot of, err, Americans?

    Blair needed to address us, clearly and directly. Even his Chicago speech made points that have not been actioned, for instance:

    “Fourth, are we prepared for the long term? In the past we talked too much of exit strategies. But having made a commitment we cannot simply walk away once the fight is over; better to stay with moderate numbers of troops than return for repeat performances with large numbers.”

    If that was a criteria, and it ought to have been in both Afghanistan and Iraq, knowing you need a plan and then failing to apply your own yardstick to an intervention is having your cake and eating it.

    The ‘why’ for Blair may well have been for the reasons you outline, but failure to meet any sort of Responsibility to Protect criteria, specifically in relation to the outcomes, suggests that the only criteria he really considered was the last one you mention, ‘to support the Americans through thick and thin’.

    A government that is going to be a party to war, that squares it’s own internal legal position, is hardly what I was getting at. If Spain, for instance, decided to annex Gibraltar say, would you view an internal Spanish document as legitimising the subsequent war? Of course you wouldn’t.

    On your last point, I agree that the failure to follow through in ’91 was a complete utter disaster for Western foreign policy. It’s what you get when you have short termists running government.

  14. Sunny — on 1st May, 2007 at 1:38 pm  

    Well, the Iraq war messed everything up, clearly. And though I got jaded with Tony Blair not long after he was elected, this govt has done sufficiently enough in advancing equality to make me worry about the Tories coming in. Want to see how the next two years play out.

  15. Anas — on 1st May, 2007 at 1:55 pm  

    Tony Blair is an evil war criminal with the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands. He should be tried in a court of law and then executed in the most painful lingering way possible — there should be no mercy for this piece of scum. And if he doesn’t face justice in this life, the inshallah he will face it in the next.

    I don’t agree with what’s he’s done with the NHS either.

  16. Anas — on 1st May, 2007 at 2:12 pm  

    Yeah, I tend not to sit on the fence on this one.

  17. Kulvinder — on 1st May, 2007 at 2:13 pm  

    I don’t agree with what’s he’s done with the NHS either.

    The measured tones of the rest of your post aside; Tony Blair has no effect on the Scottish NHS.

  18. douglas clark — on 1st May, 2007 at 2:27 pm  

    Anas,

    “and then executed in the most painful lingering way possible”

    No he shouldn’t – that is just barbaric. Try to get him prosecuted if you think that he’s committed war crimes. I’d be interested to know how far you get.

  19. Ruby — on 1st May, 2007 at 4:40 pm  

    Yes that is barbaric.

  20. Anas — on 1st May, 2007 at 6:13 pm  

    Just in case anyone from the intelligence services was reading, that bit about the lingering death was put in for comic effect — I don’t have some kind of psychotic vendetta against Blair. Actually in reality, I’m against the death penalty.

  21. Kismet Hardy — on 1st May, 2007 at 6:27 pm  

    :-)

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