Tuesday 10 November 2009
Things Can Only Get Better
Commenting on Tony Blair’s backdoor bid to be President of Euroland The Economist says that he is opposed by the Tories because they ‘fear his clout.’ I rather thought it’s because we do not want this debased man to have any input into English politics ever again. We saw enough of him in the past; we know enough about him not to want him in the future.
He is a constant puzzle to me, I have to say; he has been since I first became truly politically conscious. It’s impossible to deny that he was the most successful Labour Prime Minister ever, winning three elections in a row. But for what, I ask? That’s the puzzle, at least after the first victory in 1997, which was built on the desire for change, built on the nadir of the Major government. What exactly did he achieve? Nothing, nothing that I can see. Sorry, that’s not true; his achievements were almost invariably bad or wretched, in both domestic and foreign policy.
I’m biased, you say; yes, I am; I freely admit this. But still, think about his record, think about the record of his government. ‘Education, education, education’ was his mantra at the outset. What has that brought? Why, decline, decline, decline; an abject failure in state schooling based on relentless dumbing down, an academic inflation of the worst kind. Who would not, if they could afford it, choose to escape so much of the comprehensive system in this country?
I also think Blair deserves to be ranked among the weakest of our prime ministers. His whole time in office was marked by a schoolboyish feud with Gordon Brown, his Chancellor, seething and resentful in the background, believing he could do better in the top job, totally unaware how ill-suited he was. The foundation of our present economic ills, the phoney debt fuelled boom, was set down in those years. Frightened to move him, or to sack him for disloyalty, and thus have him do a Sir Geoffrey Howe from the back benches, Blair allowed his second-rate colleague to ditch Prudence and embrace Profligacy.
And what an absolute phony Blair was in every way, the prime minister of spin and image; the Hello prime minster. I remember in my teens seeing a news broadcast from Downing Street, one where he came out in casual dress carrying a mug, which I think had ‘Best Dad’, or something or other written on it. That was the point when I though, oh gosh, what a fake, what a pathetic poseur!
But he has clout on the world stage, so says The Economist. According to David Miliband his cavalcade would ‘stop the traffic’, which I think gives perfect insight to this man’s perception of politics and people. Why does he have clout, exactly? Because he became George Bush’s poodle. What other explanation is there? He barked to order; he barked into Afghanistan and Iraq. He barked on the basis of a lie and then tried to cover that lie in the most despicable way. On the subject of lies there was a promise of a referendum on Europe, perhaps the biggest fraud of all.
So, all along the line the Labour government failed; on education, on immigration, on the economy, on Europe, on defence, on everything. Still, Blair won election after election, in 1997, in 2001 and in 2005. Why? Why? Why? My answer is simple: it was because of the curse of Margaret Thatcher. The abject and cowardly way she was stabbed in the back in 1990 was to haunt the Tory Party for years after, through the Major years and into opposition; through the time of William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard. The Party seemed lost for an identity, lost for a proper sense of itself, caught by the dazzle of Blairdom. And that’s just the point; it was all just hype and dazzle. But the dazzle turned Brown and the future got bright. Things can only get better. :-)