May 102007

Tony Blair will today return to Durham’s Trimdon Labour Club, and the room where he launched his Labour leadership campaign on June 11 1994, to announce that he is standing down as party leader, before finally endorsing Gordon Brown as his successor tomorrow. – Guardian

And by the time I finish typing this, he’ll probably have already done the deed. A long time in the production, Tony Blair’s departure from office into retirement – if indeed politicians ever really retire – has been running longer than some hit Broadway plays.
Will history remember him kindly, or will be consigned to the frown corner for his obvious collusion in the Iraq war fiasco? From what I understand, having gleaned snippets of opinion from UK resident relatives, it’s not all bad after ten years of New Labour. Health and education have benefitted greatly under New Labour. However, it’s been the back pocket and touchy-feely issues which have damned Tony Blair’s prime ministership. The petrol crisis in 2000; higher education fee rises; a succession of incompetent or just plain clumsy ministers; and issues dealing with money in exchange for honours, or nepotism as in the Ecclestone case where F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone contributed one million pounds to the Labour Party war chest in exchange for leniency on tobacco advertising. All have served to quite effectively stain the ten year rule by Blair’s ‘third way’.
The lasting memory, however, will be the way in which Blair aligned himself and by relation, the United Kingdom, with the absurdity which is the American Bush administration. In accepting and condoning the Iraq invasion as a necessity for a plethora of reasons other than those we’re originally, and laterly given to believe, the Blair government will be forever remembered as a collective of followers for economic and political expediencies sake. Call it oil, call it regime change for strategic positioning of American influence in the Middle East-Gulf regions, in fact, call it just about anything you care to mention. The global community is unlikely to ever pin down one striking causal factor for the Iraq invasion because so much collusion in the years leading up to March 2003 went on right under the noses of that community. Further, Blairs government, along with that of Australia’s John Howard, Italy’s Berlusconi, Spain’s Aznar, Poland’s Miller along with other members of the so-called coalition are complicit in the bare-faced lies told before, during and even today over the Iraq fiasco.
I believe it to be the ultimate irony, the following statement by the leader of a government which could have and doubtless did achieve much that was good over the last ten years.

“Mine is the first generation able to contemplate the possibility that we may live our entire lives without going to war or sending our children to war.” – Speech in Paris, May 1997.

Come 2001-2002 and all that contemplation had sailed out the window. Precisely what for, we’ll never know, but it’s doubtful, for mine, that Tony Blairs impact on British political history will ever be lauded.

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