The Independent has yet another bash at Blair over the ‘legacy’ of Iraq, but finds to its dismay that Blair is still remarkably well thought-of by the British public
But there is some positive news for Mr Blair. Despite public hostility over Iraq, 61 per cent of people believe that he has been a good Prime Minister overall, with only 36 per cent thinking he has been a bad one.
Only one in 10 Labour supporters say he has been a bad Prime Minister, while 89 per cent regard him as having been a good one.
The poll suggests there is strong respect for Mr Blair across the political spectrum. A majority (62 per cent) of Liberal Democrat supporters think he has been a good Prime Minister, while only 36 per cent of them regard him as a bad one. Almost half (45 per cent) of Tory voters believe he has been a good Prime Minister, while 53 per cent judge him a bad one.
Mr Blair hopes that history will cast a different light on his support for the invasion of Iraq. But the poll confirms what his close allies have known for some time: that the continuing problems in Iraq will overshadow other issues when he announces his departure timetable.
I’ve long thought that while Blair has had his time now, we’ll miss his statesmanship and stature. How we feel about being represented abroad by our PM is a factor often underestimated by political pundits.
With Prime Ministers, there are Biggies and Forgettables (interspersed with the occasional Disaster like Callaghan). Thatcher was a Biggie, Major a Forgettable, and Blair another Biggie. A succession of dull, charisma-free elections will follow his departure, with various Forgettables doing their best not to become Disasters.
(And history will of course be much kinder to Blair on Iraq than the Independent pretends.)