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Everybody with the ability to communicate appears to be commenting today on Tony Blair’s legacy today, after he announced that he would resign on 27th July.
It’s easy to point out that he’s buried bad news to the end, choosing to use the day of an interest rate rise to announcing his ‘departure timetable’, something perhaps more familiar to a steam train than a politician. Not to mention the burying of the news that the cost of the ID card scheme has increased by £840m.
It’s easy to point out that he’s the King of Soundbites to the end: “The best nation on Earth”.
It’s easy to point out that his departure had the same theme tune as his arrival, Things Can Only Get Better, and wonder when it was most true.
It’s all-to-easy for people like me to knock Blair’s achievement. We can criticise him for his sofa-style of government, his five wars, his failures.
But for all his faults, he is the first Labour Leader to secure three successive election victories. He has introduced policies which have made the country better – the minimum wage being a case in point. He is the first ‘celebrity’ Prime Minister. And he’s a very successful politician.
His legacy will be the war in Iraq – his biggest failure. His defence of his less successful policies – “I did what I thought was right” – reveals, perhaps, his biggest failing: Government should not take decisions based upon the whim of the Prime Minister – however well intentioned – but on the facts, considered opinion from experts in their field, Cabinet discussion and debate, and Parliamentary process.
It’s a legacy, but not, I think, the one he wanted.