Friday, 27 August 2010

Blair Vision: Will History be Kinder to the Former UK Premier?

The recent publication of Tony Blair’s autobiography has divided a nation again. His decision to donate his £4.6 million pound advance to the British Legion has shone him in the public eye again. Charasmatic leaders are never universally liked but why is Tony Blair so devisive?

To paraphrase philosopher Machiavelli: innovators make enemies against the old order and only garner luke warm support from those who would prosper under the new order. Like him or loathe him he presided over ten years of economic growth and unprecedented social justice in absolute terms. However, what seemed to undo Blair was the Iraq war and his image of a poodle to theformer US President George Bush. Yet Blair was an advocate of “war as a force for good” before Bush came to power as evidenced by his speech in Chicago, 1999.

Perhaps his decision was tempered by the massacre of the innocents in Srebrenica in 1995 by Serbian backed forces whilst NATO and the UN sat on their hands.

He had enemies on both the left and the right and despite vitriolic abuse by his critics, he never lowered himself to their level and rose above it.

When he was in power the critics were complaining that he will never repay his large mortgage on his house when he would eventually leave office and was only staying because of the money. Having been driven out of power by critics who he had previously dubbed “the forces of conservatism” they are now complaining that he is making too much money. The phrase damned if you do and damned if you don’t is perfect for Blair.

Perhaps history will be a better judge of the Blair years. 70 years ago Winston Churchill was stiffening our resolve and fighting the Battle of Britain which arguably saved western civilisation from the iron grip of Nazi rule. Yet during this time Churchill had warlord appeasers in parliament, the media and public life who were calling him a war monger and urging the UK to sue for peace. Churchill's reward for his wartime contribution was electoral annhilation by the reforming Labour government of 1945.

I am not comparing Blair with Churchill but people who benefited from the Blair years appeared to have cut off their noses to spite their faces. Blair was an electoral winning machine, he made Labour elect able after four successive defeats and consigned four Tory leaders “to spend more time with their family”.
Prior to Blair EVERY Tory leader became Prime Minister so his success was very much under rated and now Labour seems poised to return to perpetual opposition. What was more telling was on the day of Blair’s final appearance in parliament, David Cameron as leader of the opposition and his MPs gave Blair a standing ovation- an unprecedented event. Is it any wonder that Cameron called himself the “heir to Blair”.

I am not advocating an opinion one way or the other but in order to judge someone you need to see both sides of the argument before you make your mind up.

The next blog will refer to another person by the name of Winston.