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 !