The complex legacy of Mr Blair….

Tony Blair is Labour’s Marmite. You either love him or loath him. All this its complicated by the fact that if you are on the left, you tend to loathe him, if your on the right, you tend to love him. If we are honest, both responses are a bit knee-jerk but we need to agree that, whatever his past record, Blair’s influence on Labour is now profoundly damaging. This is for emotional, as much as political reasons. Yes, Blair had political power, but he had more than that, he had something intangibly, which is best expressed in words as charisma and its the pain of the absence of that which still rankles the Party.

However, not only does it rankle the Party, it holds it back and stops its new leaders being themselves for fear of silent comparison and subtle condemnation. I look at people on the right and its quite clear to me that they cannot forgive Ed Miliband for committing the simple and rather obvious sin of not being Tony Blair. They were the same with Gordon Brown, but worse. Mr Miliband has many faults and its legitmate to raise questions about this leaderships direction but you cannot blame the man for being somebody he will never be. In fact, our expectation that he ‘be Blair’ is disruptive and unhelpful for the Party and furthermore, it is something we should have learned from the Brown experience, he was at his worst when he tried to be something he wasnt, ie, like Tony Blair.

The reason the legacy of Blair has become so complicated is the manner of his departure. Realistically, he was lucky to win the 2005 General Election on a whopping 36% of the popular vote and it was clear at that point, his time had come. But, rather than depart with dignity, Blair insisted on drawing the process out and so the Party was forced to make a move which it knew was necessary in its head but wasnt ready for in its heart. Blair left the Party no choice but to depose him, but it didn’t want to do that, because it treasured him and had a fondness for his achievement in returning Labour to power, no matter its view on individual policy issues. Thus, the parting became a bitter sweet pill, laced with recrimination and regret which has endured to this day; both parties have yet to let go, Blair can’t resist sticking his oar in, and many within the Party simply can’t bring themselves to really believe its over.

When we are looking to realistically asses the impact of Blair and Blairism we will find pluses and minuses. Especially, in his 97 manifesto, Blair showed dash and vision and it was matched to a sufficient extent by delivery to be laudable. However, the revolution petered out pretty quickly and then the sole focus became the management of the decline and Blair’s personal egoism which borders on rampant narcissism found its ultimate undoing in the ill-conceived Iraqi adventure. He started to truly believe his own press and generally that is about the time that the wheels come off the wagon.

An honest accounting of the Blair legacy is hampered by the man himself as much as the attitude of his acolytes, which treats legitimate questioning as unspeakable heresy. For example, today’s piece in the Observer desperately avoids talking about social deprivation because if we engaged in a serious study of that then we would have to put the man himself in the dock. Falling incomes, even for the middle-classes he mentions were an issue that has its roots in his period of governance too and so it is with the problems that afflict the riot-hit communities. They have been exacerbated by the conduct of this government for sure, which is why they came to a head at this time, but they existed on OUR watch too. This is the problem, Blair will talk about mistakes he committed in opposition until the proverbial cows come home, but a serious critique of his time in government? It simply never happens.

In his Observer piece Blair demonstrates just how far he has fallen as a serious and dynamic politician. His attempt to triangualte a ‘third way’ on the riots ends up being self-contradictory, and totally hollow. So it is with Blairism in Labour, it is a hollow shell of the dynamic creed it once was (the very thing that made it so successful); an echo of what it was and in its behaviour much like a fanatical cult of the individual, waiting for Tony to inscribe the next words of wisdom on tablets of stone. Labour needs to move on from Tony Blair and the only way to do that is bury Blairism, give it the raucous sailors farewell it deserves, and move onto bigger, brighter things.

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About darrellgoodliffe

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10 responses to “The complex legacy of Mr Blair….”

  1. john reid says :

    Why should blair be deposed after only geting 36% of the vote in 2005, he was still ahead in the polls upto the thrid week in April 2006 and between 1 and 5 prescent behind in the polls betwen sept 2006 and june 2007, and labour never got 36 in the elction it lost under 18 years of tory rule, Lukeakehurst a fomrer blairite backed ed miliband,he’s someone who;s glad Ed isn’t tony blair,
    Ed miliband has gone out of his way to say that the Riots were’t due to poverty cuts or the police but sheer “loooting and theft” that’s all, Ed diodn’t back the civil servant strikers last month “shame on him”, yet blair built his career on the Last tory government trying to bring in police cuts in the sheehy reforms in the early 90’s, Balri now regrets building his career on sayoing that poverty lead to things like the James bluger murder, but blair unlike Ed milibnad said 18 years ago “poverty lead to crime” .
    some of the people like Simon Sion who ousted blair as they felt he was bad, then got Gordon in, and then when they realsied tehy were going to lose thier seats they jumped ship.
    Balir influence is damgaing ,yeh ruddy Blair winning us 3 elections
    Move on to better brighter things like ,Er more years in opposition

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  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    John,

    36% of the vote is hardly a ringing endorsement from the electorate in anybodies book is it? The fact is by this time, Blair had been too badly tainted by the Iraq fandango to carry on. People had simply had enough and wouldn’t turn out for him anymore and his leadership was harming the Party.

    Ed Miliband has had a nunaced and not entirely right but not entirely wrong either approach to the riots. It’s been better than Cameron’s but not mine either. If the riots had nothing to do with poverty then why are those convicted disproportionately from poorer areas or is that a giant cosmic coincidence?

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  3. john reid says :

    I don’t know if there’s poor areas, look at some of those union officials who are in council houses who are on 100,000 a year, yet they’re from poor areas, andspome of the Romford rioters like the one who mugged the bloke who’d already been done, mayb eif people woh aren’t rich enough to go out to the football or nightclubs felt they had nothing better to do than steal designer clothes from a store,but ,ther’s bee afortune plwoed into Hackney over the last few years ,and even the cuts of the last year haven’t rally cut in yet,the funny thing was that people were burning dwon croydon weren’t from there, its the view that they could get away with stealing things as they saw others do it, and teh career criminals make a fortune from shooting people and dealing drugs the fact they don’t want to leave theri communities by leaving those estates is there choice, Even duggan allegedly wanted to leave tottenham

    As for blair getting 36% yes that wan’t a ringing endorsement ,but it was still better thanany other labour leader got since 1974

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  4. darrellgoodliffe says :

    @John,

    So your denying the existence of any kind of poverty now?

    Apart from himself in 1997 and 2001 of course, which shows how his popularity which was seriously on the wane…I am not even sure your right there, Kinnock might have got more and lost…

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  5. john reid says :

    of course there’s poor areas i just don’t accept that poverty was teh reason that people went out and stole Ipads and blackberrie’s as they alreasy ahd them when they were tweeting where the next riot was

    Kinnock got 11.2m in 1992 and 35.2%, BLAIR GOT 9.6 MILLION IN 2005 AND 36%

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  6. darrellgoodliffe says :

    @John,

    Then, simply put, explain the relationship to me, was it just a coincidence? No they were not all tweeting when the next riot was *rolls eyes*; so Kinnock got ded more votes than Blair? It was therefore a complete fluke Blair ended up in government and Kinnock didnt then….that makes Blair’s result look even worse

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  7. John Reid says :

    fair point about blair ,but alot of tories abstained because they couldn’t bring themsleves trovote For Hague or Howard and were happy with Blair (that was why the vote was very low) the 92 election vote was very high as every left winger was ready for labour to rule agin after 13 years and there were people who were thinking of voting Lib dem ,didn’t and voted tory was they were afraid of labour coming back in and not being able to control the unions, we’ll agree to disagree on the reason the riots were in poor areas.

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  8. darrellgoodliffe says :

    So, the real reason people Blair got such a low vote is because he was so popular? That is some logic you have there…

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  9. John Reid says :

    I idn’t say that he got a lw vote as people couldn’t bring themsleves to vote tory with its “nudge nudge it’s not racist to say asylum seekrss are bogus” comments ,didn’t like blair etiher New he wold win so they stayed at home.

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  10. darrellgoodliffe says :

    So, he was pretty unpopular then?

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