Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister (1997-2007)

The Blair Legacy

I’m still trying to get my head around the weirdness that Tony Blair, or at least his acolytes, favour a Labour leadership candidate who thinks his government was economically unsound. In Polly Toynbee’s recent article she referred to Corbynites and how:

Tony Blair’s second and more ferocious intervention is unlikely to persuade them. Indeed, his “modernising” wing, so aggressive from day one in their support for the unlikely Liz Kendall, helped stoke the Corbyn phenomenon and divide the party.

Now there’s a tricky one, Blairites supporting a candidate who has bought into the Labour profligacy myth. Anything to needle Gordon, eh? But what about that ferocious second intervention from Blair?

Blair’s advice makes sense, but only if you airbrush Blair from history. All political parties should move with the times and Blair’s modernisation, although controversial, worked; it swept him into power on a wave of enthusiasm. And he did some good things with that power, nobody really disputes that. But he did some bloody stupid awful things that Labour is finding it impossible to throw off.

If we have ABC then those things are still with us, there’s still the connection to Iraq, still the taking on board of economic orthodoxy, still the real left wingers grumbling away at the party turning away from them. With Corbyn that could finally be left behind. But it could render Labour unelectable. In which case, Labour can’t really win. And if we attribute blame it should really be Blair that carries it. Labour was doomed when his modernisation was marred by his very poor decisions internationally.

Let’s not forget, however, that had the Iraq invasion been followed by a period of peace in that country, his reputation would be entirely different to as it is now.


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