Sunday, January 07, 2007


No Time Left for Blair to leave the Stage to Applause

Blair's former 'chief adviser political strategy' writes in the Observer today that Tony can 'leave the stage with them still wanting more'. In deference to this pleasant fantasy of an idea I've re-used perhaps the most flattering photograph of Blair-or maybe any politician- ever taken.

Matthew(son, I think of sociologist/broadcaster, Laurie) is bullish about what Tony can do in the six months left to him. Taylor was 'charged with developing a fundamental policy review to be overseen jointly by Downing St and the Treasury.' It will envisage:

A radically reformed central state-smaller, more strategic, less controlling, focused more on the causes of poverty than, ignorance and sickness than the Sisyphean struggle to ameliorate their consequences.

That would be interesting if I knew more about what it meant. Next week, we are told, a No 10 seminar will decide what issues will be given to a 'high profile citizen's forum' which will look 'in real policy dilemmas' and 'pave the way for how policy has to be made in the future'.

Forgive an old cynic for being cynical but I seem to recall a People's Panel being introduced in the early years of Blair's first administration-1998 to be precise- and being wound up shortly afterwards- in 2002- for being not useful. Nevertheless we must with-hold judgement and allow the idea a fair wind... again. Matthew hopes that by the time Tony goes, day to day violence in Iraq will have reduced. 'Even more important in the long term', he judges, 'Blair's pre Christmas visit to the Middle East' has contributed to 'progress'- albeit, he admits, of a 'small and fragile' nature. You could say that again. He recognises the primacy of the NHS deficits problem but expresses some optimism about Northern Ireland(guardedly), education, party funding and Lords reform. As for the future,

Blair's final challenge may be the May elections. If the outcome is disastrous for Labour, particularly if the SNP is seen to win a mandate for independence, his decision to stay on until the summer could be seen as a misjudgement to rival Jim Callaghan's 1978 rendition of 'Waiting at the church'.

Blimey! This line seems to suggest Tony's former key adviser on political strategy has very serious doubts about Tony's.. er... political strategy. Blairism might well survive the demise of its eponym but to suggest the fag-end last sixth months of his period in office can witness the fulfilment of his central reform ambitions is to live in a world too far removed from the political reality such a key adviser should inhabit.

There is some woolly thinking going on. Blair sorting out the middle east in 6 months, when the problems have been going on for decades never mind the fact that the UK is hardly the most influential player in the game. Get real.

It's such a shame that they always cling on to long even the brilliant ones.
And Blair has been brilliant, I have to allow. He's like an outstanding sportsman who just somehow can't score the runs or can't deliver those key passes to score the goals.
He's scored lots of runs and laid on plenty of goals, but let's face it - often for the wrong side(s). If Blair had been under the direction of the party at large and done all his tricks FOR THE PEOPLE then we'd be looking at a great hero and he probably wouldn't have to go. He's a class act. He could have been looking to 25 years like some Swedish PM/Leader instead of his miserable (but record breaking) 10.

There have been three main myths :

1. It had to be Blair in 97

2. It had to be that sold out Tory programme

3. It had to continue like that in 01 and 05

Other leaders could have achieved three or four wins given the state of the nation in 79 to 97 - with a deliberate unselfishness/equality as the main message.

PS: Blair could make a difference on the Middle East - perhaps by denouncing the USA and the zionist view in his parting words
Yes, I've often wondered why those Swedish social democrats seemed to get a long term lease while our boys only got short term sniffs of power. I'd like to think Blair could make a difference but I doubt it. And once he's retired one only has to look at Clinton to see that however distinguished or charismatic the retiree they are inevitably marginalised.
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