Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Blair or Cameron as Politician of the Year?

Andrew Rawnsley is an interesting columnist who seldom fails to stimulate discussion as is further evidenced by his piece on Blair last Sunday. In it he rehearsed all the manifold failures of this year-sacking Clarke, John Prescott's travails, Lord Levy's arrest and his own police questioning, not to mention the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan and the attempts from within his own party to unseat him last autumn. Then he goes on to suggest that Blair has actually had a 'brilliant year':

'because of this simple, undeniable big fact. He is still there. There he still is in Downing St... despite it all the great survivor is still there.

I can see where the argument comes from but am not sure I travel so far with it. Yes, he's still there but what's he doing? Not very much. He's just hanging on. His attempt to kick start a Middle East peace initiative seems to have been rebuffed as everyone predicted and the police have been knocking at his door. I'm not sure that succeeding in clinging on to the door frame when others try to kick you out really amounts to being all that 'brilliant'.

More persuasive I would have thought is the case for David Cameron as 'politician of the year' as annointed by no less august a body than the Political Studies Association. Their citation includes the following:

'2006 has seen the Conservatives moving ahead of Labour, with Cameron being rated a better candidate for prime minister than Tony Blair in a YouGov poll in June. After years of being on the back foot, it seems that Cameron's leadership has given the Conservatives a serious chance to revive their fortunes.

No, Blair has done well to hang on-I'd give him the Political Resilience Man of the Year Award- but he has merely marked time while serving out the fag-end of his years in power. Even his obsession- his legacy- concerns the past(when he has been undeniably 'brilliant' in many ways), while Cameron has the better case to argue that he is looking to the nation's future.

Skipper, glad to see you back after your allergy reaction. Hope you are in fine fettle. Agree with you about Blair. His achievements as party leader are greater than his achievements as Prime Minister (which I think was the theme of Peter Riddell's book, which I haven't got round to reading yet). His fantasy tour of the Midle East is bathetic. But it doesn't matter now. What difference does a few months make?
Yes, allergy survived but I'll be very careful indeed in future about anything with nuts as my windpipe was closing up rapidly...
Agree, we should let him fade away now, unfulfilled legacy notwithstanding.
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