Tuesday, 24 August 2010

I'm coming out . . . of the Blair closet

Tony Blair has recently been in the news again - and most of the comment unfavourable. Unfavourable because he’s donating his auto-biog royalty to the Royal British Legion. And now I’m about to make myself really unpopular in some sections . . .

Labour Party members and supporters should remember that TB led the Labour Party to an unprecedented number of election Labour victories - three. His leadership was not without controversy - a leader of the energy of Tony Blair will never be without controversy. And there were, indeed, some prats in the government . . . as there will be in any government that runs for thirteen years.

Concerns about these are legitimate; and we should try to learn from them.

But when I hear people say (as I do from time to time) ‘What did the Labour government do for me?’ I wonder what planet they’re living on. Here is a short list . . . Sure Start, minimum wage, vast reduction in waiting times for hospital appointments, Human Rights Act, freedom of information, Civil Partnerships.

For many, the decision to invade Iraq was unforgivable; but we should keep in mind that the ‘againsts’ will all be more vocal than the ‘fors’ - that is how life is. And I doubt if the present enquiry, whatever its result, will silence critics.

However, concerns - specially about lack of post-conflict planning - are legitimate - and we should try to learn from them.

But the constant attacks on Tony Blair remind me of the unrelenting attacks against Bill Clinton from Republican lawyers. Like Clinton, Blair’s success is his weak point.

At this time it appears that the effects of the recession may not be as bad as feared; the Labour administration (latterly, of course, under Gordon Brown) can claim much of the credit - but is unlikely to get it.

Brown built on Blair’s foundations . . . As Blair acknowledges he, himself, did on John Smith’s and JS on Neil Kinnock’s. So, as a kind of unreconstructed Kinnockite, I’m still supporting Blair for what he did - I’m standing up and being counted. And I look forward to the LP new leader . . . and for the chance to work towards a new Labour government sooner rather than later.

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