Wednesday, May 02, 2007


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.)


Ali said...

He did allright but mainly for Iraq and sticking to Thatcherite policies. All the promises of improving schools and hospitals have come to nothing and the tax burden ascends ever higher.

Brit said...

I'm not talking about such mundane things as hospitals and taxes.

We live in an age of political consensus on those issues. Politicians therefore have other purposes these days. Blair fulfilled those purposes better than anyone else will for a long, long time.

Brit said...

Also: mainly for sticking to Thatcherite policies.

Think about that for a moment. Yes, he just carried on Thatcherite policies... a Labour PM.

Thus transforming the political landscape of Britain and, to put it dramatically if you like, becoming the British PM who Ended History.

Ali said...

That End of History-causing PM would have been Thatcher. Her continued success forced Labour to change. If they hadn't, they'd still be out of power.

Politicians are judged now on their competence and ability to deliver. Blair came in promising better schools, hospitals and public services. I don't see much evidence that they've made much headway in any area.

Good instincts on foreign policy but the achievements are pretty thin and don't extend much beyond, "We didn't needlessly screw things up."

Brit said...

It's just plain silly to downplay what Blair and Brown did in that way.

Thatcher was incredibly divisive, and after her we had Major vs Kinnock.

It'd be slightly more realistic to say that John Smith ended history by dying.

Ali said...

What Blair and Brown did was make Labour electable. The country itself would have done just as well if they hadn't won power.

Brit said...

That's the Marxist mistake - just say everything was a historical inevitability and you eradicate the importance of the individual.

Every action requires an actor.

Blair killed what David would call the 'Hegelian dialectic'.

Even if someone else would have done it at some point anyway, Blair still did it.

Ali said...

And who cares? Does it really matter if he made Labour electable? The country would have trucked on under Major's unspectacular and somewhat embarrassing government. Or maybe the Lib Dems would have moved into a bigger opposition role.

What he did as an individual was important. For Labour.

I know Hegel said thesis and anti-thesis produce a synthesis. Not sure how that relates to Blair.

Brit said...

Thesis: Capitalism
Antithesis: Socialism
Synthesis: End of History.