Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

Tony Blair – my own opinion

These are my thoughts, my opinions, my observations – OK they’re subjective, but they’re what I want to say :
When historians in a hundred years compile the histories of the United Kingdom from the second world to the present, there won’t be many Prime Ministers that figure strongly in their writings. Winston Churchill will get a mention obviously – but will be largely covered in the section on WW2. I think that there’ll be only be two who get more than the odd paragraph though.

One will be Margaret Thatcher. The other will be Tony Blair. Both premiers achieved immense popularity in their time, and both were disliked intensely by a section of the electorate. Both of them have found that, on leaving office, the extent to which they were disliked has achieved mythical proportions – which has  - in the way that myths tend to – far overshadowed the reality of their popularity at the time.

I personally despised Margaret Thatcher – and many that I knew also did. It took me some time to realise though that she was an immensely popular Prime Minister – popular because she was decisive – and put an end to the see saw political squabble-ocracies which had preceded her tenure under Heath, Callaghan & Wilson.

I was outraged by her treatment of the miners – but eventually realised that it gained her even more popularity as she was seen to be the leader who took on the unfettered might of the trades unions and won. Ending what millions saw as a largely disruptive influence in the life of the country – which rightly or wrongly (wrongly in my own opinion) were seen as serving only the interests of a narrow political caucus rather than the workers they claimed to represent.

Tony Blair clearly learned from this. He took on board the public’s desire for decisive Government, but more than that he, together with other “New Labour” pioneers (notably Gordon Brown), realised that a Labour Party which existed to serve only the poor end disenfranchised, or only the traditional working classes, would never be elected again. He championed the vision of a Labour Party which served all sections of society fairly and equitably – the unemployed and low waged, the wealthy entrepreneurs who were well placed to provide employment to workers, and the masses in the middle – many of whom no longer identified with being either poor or working class. They were now share holders and business men – but certainly not millionaire industrialists. Without this huge mass of voters, no political party could easily be elected.

The socialist ideologies upon which the Labour Party was founded seemed remote and outdated to many ordinary people. Tony Blair realised this. Realised also that Britain is a country that generally has no particular appetite for extremes of either left or right – society in general tends to favour a mixed economy, where the vulnerable are looked after, and where opportunity for education and welfare are provided by the state; but where individuals are able to succeed, and to make a profit and to make their way in the world. The ‘New Labour’ concept which Tony Blair represented capitalised on that and saw him to three consecutive election victories – and even the last one, with his smallest majority, still had a larger majority than Margaret Thatcher enjoyed in her supposed landslide 1979 victory.

Personally I tend to a more left wing position than is generally seen to be presented by Tony Blair, but I’ve realised that however much I may wish, for example to establish workers councils, and run all business as co-operatives, there’s a reality that large numbers of the British public do not share my views – and would not accept this. I don’t believe in forcing them to do so, so it follows that the way in which these goals will be accomplished will be by establishing consensus over many years – which will most successfully be accomplished with the support of a Government of the broad left. To me that means Labour – which is a ‘broad church’ for some very good reasons.

It pains me therefore to see so many people today, expressing their anger at Tony Blair following his appearance at the Chilcot Inquiry.

Tony Blair was elected democratically and decisively to take on the huge responsibilities of office that being Prime Minister entails. As such he had to take very difficult decisions. I feel on the strength of evidence previously, and re-iterated today that he did so with honesty, honour and good faith. I agreed with his decision to take the country to war with Iraq, though some did not (I would suggest these were rather fewer in number than is now claimed), but irrespective of my opinion, his decision was supported by Parliament, and we should respect him for taking that onerous responsibility.

With the benefit of now being able to see how the Iraq war has transpired, I think that very few people could truly say that it has gone well – it’s been a long horrible war which has been difficult and taken a huge human toll. That is always a risk with wars – but some of them are still necessary in my opinion. I believe this was one of them, and wonder how many more people would have died at the hands of Saddam Hussein had this action not been taken. Appeasement you may recall, was not a successful tactic with that other great dictator of modern times Adolf Hitler – I don’t think it would have been any more useful with Saddam.

So whilst it may not be particularly trendy to say so : I supported Tony Blair in his actions over Iraq, I supported and still support his efforts to modernise the Labour Party, and see him as a great Labour Prime Minister, and I’m proud to admit to it.

Now watch me lose all my Twitter followers !

January 29, 2010 - Posted by | politics |

13 Comments »

  1. I personally don’t agree with Tony Blair’s stance on Iraq now (although I initially supported the war), but I do feel he was a great Prime Minister. I even know a few Tories who say that while they loathe him, they admire his skills as a politician.

    Comment by mattnewman7 | January 30, 2010 | Reply

    • I’d almost say the same thing about Margaret Thatcher. Although she’s probably the only person I come any where close to truly hating, I still can not deny her abilities as a Prime Minister.

      Comment by northernheckler | January 30, 2010 | Reply

  2. As someone who was against the war from the start I agree with you that many people seem now to have forgotten that they were in favour of it at the time. I also agree that Blair is neither stupid, nor evil as some people now seem to say. But I’m afraid honesty honour and good faith can’t really describe all his dealings over Iraq.
    I believe he made one judgement honestly and that was from 9/11 the strategic decision to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the United States. All prime ministers from Macmillan onwards have had to recognise that the “special relationship” is to put it at its kindest a partnership in which UK is an extemely junior member. Blair rightly had to consider the relationship with US in the light of UK’s national interest. As he said during his evidence “Distance yourself from America if you like but its a long way back”.
    His misfortune was to be dealing with George W Bush as president and his error was to appear to give an unreserved committment.
    Its clear from his evidence at the enquiry that he did not agree with the Bush line that Iraq was somehow connected to 9/11. But the junior partner does not get to pick the targets. Bush was working to a neo con agenda “Project for a New American Century” that envisaged more projection of American power. (After the apparent quick “victories” in Afghanistan and Iraq you may remember Bush talking in increasingly menacing terms about both Syria and Iran until the “victories began to unravel).
    Blair had some influence on how the Americans conducted things – but not much. Perhaps with a more cautious outlook he may have kept us out of the train crash the Americans caused. He had the skill as seen in his dealings elsewhere. I guess he judged the displeasure of our masters would be be more damaging to UK than riding shotgun on Bush’s adventure.
    He did not tell us that. And I don’t think all the contortions about WMD and regime change are evidence of honesty or good faith. As he said to Fearn Brittan if we had known there were no WMD we would have had to use and deploy different arguments.

    Comment by neilefawcett | January 30, 2010 | Reply

    • I feel that Iraq to a large degree picked itself as a target. No one asked them invade Kuwait – which was never going to go under the radar, nor to fire Scud missiles at non-belligerent Israel in a blatant attempt to sucker them into the first Gulf War. Syria & Iran have proved difficult nations for the west to deal with – however Syria did intervene with allied forces in the liberation of Kuwait, and Iran could have been far more difficult than in fact they have. Iran, I think many would agree, have an altogether more intelligent opposition to the western powers than Iraq had demonstrated – and would always be a far more dangerous proposition than Iraq in terms of the difficulty of military intervention. I have known lots of Iranians in the UK through the years, and I feel certain that an intelligent and successful campaign by those people would ultimately prevent war between our countries.

      What I really don’t understand is the involvement in Afghanistan – it just doesn’t make any sense to me on any level – dove / hawk / economic etc – nothing about it seems to add up.

      I don’t think the ‘special relationship’ is as lop sided as you make out – but there are lots of ‘special relationships’ – it didn’t especially bother France to risk theirs.

      Thanks for your comments

      Comment by northernheckler | January 30, 2010 | Reply

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by northernheckler: Tony Blair – my own opinion: http://wp.me/pycui-hE

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments | January 30, 2010 | Reply

  4. Iraq, to my mind, was a grevious mistake as have been 99.9% of the things associated with the ‘War on Terror’. I think it suited Blair as he is a politician who loves a cause as he showed in his transformationary zeal with the Labour Party as a whole. So, I dont doubt he sincerly believed what he said however in my eyes he was wrong ultimately (his conviction was what won him the day in the end).

    As he is on the transformation of the Labour Party in my eyes. You are right in context of 1997 but in 2010 your wrong – Labour’s core is disintergrating and becoming dangerously atomised (which is benefitting the likes of the BNP) and its now disarmed in the face of a crisis where capitalism, ironically, would be best served by a dose of socialism. Ultimately you cannot triangulate into thin air. Blair will be remembered rightly for some achievements however some will be superceded by the march of events.

    Comment by darrellgoodliffe | January 30, 2010 | Reply

    • I don’t think he did ultimately win the day, but believed in what he was doing and realised that there was a huge risk to his popularity – ultimately he fell prey to that, I think he took the decision that it was the right thing to do. What happened since the invasion is perhaps better seen as a miscalculation rather than a mistake – subtle I know, but the outcomes were far more difficult than any one could have predicted.

      In the short amount of time that I’ve been in the Labour Party I’ve encountered some very solid unity – with quite disparate views – most recently at the Fabian’s New Year Conference – which was highly enjoyable. Thanks for all your comments (and on Twitter !)

      Comment by northernheckler | January 30, 2010 | Reply

  5. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by House Of Twits, Rezina, Rezina, Lisa Jackson, Bryony Victoria King and others. Bryony Victoria King said: RT @northernheckler: My own opinion on Tony Blair http://wp.me/pycui-hE Some of you won't like it, but lots of you have said you do. [...]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Tony Blair – my own opinion « Northernheckler's Blog -- Topsy.com | January 31, 2010 | Reply

  6. I enjoyed the article and thanks in r‚clame to to posting such valuable tidings seeking all of us to insert to, I be the horse’s brashness in the matter of it both estimable and supportive and I method to grill it as again as I can.

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    Comment by ray ban store | February 5, 2010 | Reply

    • I don’t care if this is spam – I’m publishing it any way – most bonkers comment I’ve had so far. I method to grill it as again as I can !

      Comment by northernheckler | February 6, 2010 | Reply

  7. As with many articles floating around the net, an opinion and only very loosely relates to events, actual or imagined. A political voice lost in the wilderness of similar whispers.

    Tony Blair led the country to a war, on a false premise. As a netizen you will have been aware, or you should of been aware, of the totally false claims of WMD, Chemical , chidren murdered in hospitals, from the 91 invasion.. pure unmitigated propaganda.

    Tony Blair will get his historical notes, but for all the wrong reasons. Puppet and poodle spring to mind but the rest will eventually become apparent.

    Comment by Freddie | February 15, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m not whispering, and it relates to the events as I observed them. No imagination involved. My political voice is not a particularly influential one, however I would say, that I’ve had more comments – largely as direct messages regarding this particular post than any other – all of them except yours has been supportive – even where there have been differences in our overall opinions. So my voice is not, and was not, lost. The daily average readership of this site has also more than doubled since I published this article – which I am pleased about.

      Tony Blair let the country to war with the support of parliament. Huge overwhelming support – which was nevertheless opposed by some MPs mostly within his own party. Most of the mass media supported him then – most of the population of the country supported him too. There were no false claims of Weapons of Mass destruction – they HAD been used – the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein against Iraqis is not propaganda – it is fact – verified by the United Nations. The invasion of Kuwait was not propaganda – it is fact. The firing of long-range missiles into Israel (a non-belligerent state) is not propaganda – it is fact.

      Oh by the way – when you say “should of been aware” – you mean “should have”

      He stuffed the Tories at general elections as well – 3 times. I’ll remember him for that too !

      Comment by northernheckler | February 15, 2010 | Reply

  8. [...] Hmm, well voters really showed their hate in 2005 when they turned out to elect him then… I think this blog by Northern Heckler sums the situation up well. I especially like the ‘mythical proportions of dislike’ [...]

    Pingback by Think the public hate Tony Blair? You’re reading too many papers… « | April 12, 2010 | Reply


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