Ali Ikram promised TV One viewers last night that the broadcast would switch over to the announcement of Tony Blair leaving Number 10 at 11 p.m. NZST, but it never happened. So, it was off to watch CNN Pipeline online, to catch the PM make his farewell speech, the ﬁrst of many, then catching reactions there, on al-Jazeera, and on the France 24 news channel.
The last 10 years have been interesting, as Blair continued some of the policies of his predecessor, such as dealing with the Troubles (even Margaret Thatcher tried not to touch this political hot potato), and education and the NHS.
I have been pretty open in the past to say that I helped the Tories campaign in 1997. After all, John Major looked alone as his party crumbled around him, with only a small handful of trusty lieutenants and Norma by his side. His typeface—Arial—said all that was wrong with the Conservatives in that campaign: it was invisible. It was up against a Labour party that was image-run.
Major, to me, was the conservative with a socialist conscience, and best reﬂected my own slightly leftist viewpoints on how to run Britain then.
He was the ﬁrst PM in a long time to lose a General Election while the economy was strong.
I was concerned about Tony Blair. In a lot of speeches I gave around that time—and I carried the gag well into 2003—I joked how most of his 1997 interviews centred around the word ‘Change’. It was about ‘New Labour, New Britain’. Even Major praised his successor for his shrewdness in his autobiography; buzzwords, or spin, worked for Tony Blair.
Until the public wised up, and spin began biting the Blair government back.
At the end of the day, little beats transparency, or at least the impression of it—a talent which New Zealand PM Helen Clark is quite a mistress of. The Leader of the Opposition appears to be fumbling as much as his predecessor, with no clear direction.
I made it no secret that I felt Mr Blair’s spin meant he was covering up for a lack of substance. In Visual Arts Trends, we even received a bit of hate mail when I criticized Blair. Back then, he was a far more popular PM than he ultimately became.
And as the reviews on the news last night showed, many of us were concerned about Blair being so chummy with Bill Clinton—so would the UK abandon its traditional ally, the US, if George W. Bush were to win the 2000 Presidential Election?
As it turned out, Blair’s loss of popularity was his ability to get on well with both the 42nd and 43rd presidents, and a less-than-popular decision to follow the US in the War on Terror.
I gained a lot of respect for Tony Blair that day.
While I hardly would advocate war as a means to solve our differences, I just cannot, hand on heart, sit here and write that I would not have done the same thing. When it came to Iraq, given the intelligence of Britain’s own experts (forget the CIA), and 1990s news reports of Saddam Hussein having used WMDs on the Kurds, again, as a national leader, I can’t say I would not have told George W. Bush in that phone call that I would not join the war.
Fortunately, I don’t have to make these sorts of decisions in my daily life.
But I respect those who are “conviction politicians”. They are, after all, elected to lead, not to follow opinion polls.
And prior to 9-11, I felt that Tony Blair was a follower.
It was just ironical that my personal support for Tony Blair coincided with the public’s loss of support for him.
I thought he was more honest in the Commons in justifying the invasion on Iraq using UN Security Council resolution 1441, and having studied international law, I agree with his interpretation. It was a smarter ploy than the one that his American counterpart delivered to his nation, which made it far more of a US war than a UN one. (Yes, I know, there are arguable points there.)
The master of spin ﬁnally decided to look at long-established laws and just told the public, up front, what he thought. Never mind most of us would never read resolution 1441 and the consequences outlined for Iraq. And yes, there are conﬂicts on its interpretation: I don’t deny that for a second.
Similarly, I respect those who feel they need to criticize the Prime Minister for his decision to send British troops to Iraq. He certainly needs to hear these views and be held accountable for his actions.
But all in all, I believe Blair will leave a positive mark on history. However, it is the passing of an era, just as the early 1990s saw a close on the Reagan–Thatcher years. The world will be very different at the end of the decade, and Blair’s decision to step down after 10 years may be a historical milestone in that change.
It was a different Britain in 1997: the Princess of Wales was still alive, and Hong Kong was still part of the Empah. Blair’s arrival signalled the ending of that age of the sprawling British Empire, while the country wavered between being part of Europe as a small constitutional monarchy and part of an English-speaking union. Which way it will head is anybody’s guess, but I would not expect any real changes till the Brown years come to a close. Posted by Jack Yan, 06:18
Concerning Tony Blair, I think he will have a decent place in history. He definitely made the Labor Party electable in England. With him gone, I wonder if the loony left will resurface and make Labor unelectable again. He was also a master of spin as you said. The movie "The Queen" shows that. Still, he remained true to his leftist roots concerning taxes and the British economy which didn't help it any. Concerning Iraq, I think Blair saw it was better to fight the jihadis on their soil than his. He definitely saw what the result could be if he allowed them to fight on British soil. Concerning the Euro, I don't feel it would be a good thing for England to join it. As long as England has the pound, they have more control over their economy vice allowing the pathetic Brussels bureaucrats that control. Also, those who manage the Euro have shown that they aren't prepared to enforce the rules concerning the Euro on everyone. Concerning his relationship with the U.S., he definitely managed it well and because of that, England had considerable influence with the U.S. whereas France with its anti-U.S. attitudes had none. Blair leaves the Anglo-American alliance in good shape. It remains to be seen how his successor handles it though the signs aren't promising.
do you still agree with tony blair's justification of the war still, even after the consequences of the hutton report ie. he did sex up the WMD dossier? the only reason he had a modicum of support in this country was because he claimed that saddam had chemical and biological weapons which has turned out to be utter bollocks.Post a Comment
america may have been more for taking out saddam but the war was sold to britain as iraq being a direct threat, which it clearly wasn't.
# posted by Anonymous: 5/24/2007 11:55:00 AM
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