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Politics/Current Affairs

Time For Blair To Start Thinking About His Legacy

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007 at 12:25 by Eliza E. Lanyard

The evening of the 1997 election started with an air of quiet hopefulness. I was out with friends and no-one wanted a repeat of 1992’s bitter disappointment. But as the evening wore on and the results came in, the air thickened with a collective sense of excitement. ‘They really might be going to do it this time’ and ‘please, please, let the Tories be gone at last’.

On the way home the taxi driver had the radio on, and it still seemed too good to be true, safe Tory seat after safe Tory seat seemed to be falling into Labour hands. I spent the rest of the night watching such delights as: Neil Hamilton having a face like a smacked arse when the results were read out and Michael Portillo losing his seat to an openly gay man.

Each moment a moment to treasure and savour.

I went to bed in the knowledge that Labour really had won the election and I was genuinely hopeful and excited that things were going to change - and for the better. At the very least they couldn’t get any worse.

But this excitement and euphoria wasn’t to last. New Labour wasn’t just a Sun-assisted spin to get Labour in, they really were New Labour, Tory-Lite. I felt, and still feel, conned - and annoyed at myself for being taken in.

Why did I think things were going to be any different?

After all politicians are really only in the business of maintaining their power base and lining their own pockets. But this on its own wouldn’t be too bad and wouldn’t leave such a nasty taste in the mouth - it’s simply politicians behaving true to form. What is leaving such a nasty taste is the slowly emerging details about cash for honours, the ongoing horror of an unsustainable and questionable war in Iraq, the slow but sure chipping away of civil liberties in the guise of the ‘war against terror’, and instead of getting something useful done Blair and Brown’s cronies continue to in-fight.

Mr Blair has apparently been questioned by police about the donation of money in return for titles twice. I say apparently as we only found out about the second interview some time after the event courtesy of a news black out.

Is this the same government who talked about transparency? The same government that introduced the Freedom of Information Act?

It seems four members of Blair’s inner circle including his chief fundraiser Lord Levy have been questioned by police. The man leading the investigation is John Yates, no stranger to slimy, wriggling politicians being one of the people who helped bring Jeffrey Archer to justice on charges of perjury[1]. We all knew he was a lying git but it was so nice for it to be officially and permanently confirmed.

I don’t think that cash for honours is bad per se, after all it’s following on in the best traditions of the British monarchy. King Charles I was so strapped for cash he’d sell anybody anything. It might be better if they were just more honest about it and issued a pricelist - 1 million for a Lordship, 500,000 for an MBE. If I was handing money over I’d like to see what I was likely to get for it.

But aside from the grubbiness of the politicians, it is the ongoing war in Iraq that is most distressing and depressing. The internal conflict shows no sign of lessening and yesterday the death toll of British soldiers killed on active duty in Iraq rose to 100. Over 2,000 troops have requested help for the psychological problems they are now suffering as a direct result of serving in Iraq. It seems a long time since the triumphant toppling of Saddam’s statue. The manner of Saddam’s execution has only fanned the flames of the ongoing, bitter, power struggle.

And of course we have the ‘war on terror‘, creating a climate of fear. It now seems unreasonable to worry about the proposed increase in the number of days you can hold someone without charge (from 28 to 90). And if you don’t want an id card then it must be because you have something to hide. Has this government learnt nothing from the past mistakes of other governments? Remember internment anyone?

To me Blair’s legacy will be how easily his name spells Liar, and how he has squandered the opportunities to genuinely make things better. He has increased my apathy and antipathy towards professional politicians and perhaps most sadly of all I am part of a growing majority.

1. Ah, this brought back such happy memories - Ed.

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16 Comments on “Time For Blair To Start Thinking About His Legacy”

  1. Stephen Ball Says:

    And now everything out of his mouth is strict Tory policy. I do wish we had a choice that was “Centre-right, or centre-right… or a little less centre-right, but they won’t win.”

    Yeah, the Archer case still makes me smile :) Ah, good times.

  2. DannyMackay Says:

    Ah sweet memories from the sayd before Iraq…

    the minimum wage - the right to join a union - an end to mass unemployment - equality for homosexuals - better pay for teachers and nurses - more spending on schools and the NHS - tax cuts for the poor - million less pensioners in poverty - million less kids in poverty - new benefits for the working poor - training programes for the unemployed.

    I’m sure nothing will change when the tories come back - they are all the same anyway…

  3. Persimillion Says:

    So this is supposed to be a cynical, sideways look at the news with a “slant”?
    It’s just Daily Mail Lite dressed up as a disillusioned Guardian reader and says what everyone says about Labour.
    Danny Mackay makes a better point in three paragraphs than this article makes in several dozen.

  4. Stephen Ball Says:

    Heh. I can guarantee you won’t find much similarity to the Daily Mail in here… I think we specifically attack them a few stories back.

    Sure, everyone says it. I notice, however, that the situation hasn’t changed. I’m pretty happy with more people saying it until it does.

  5. RJ Barker Says:

    Well, we do consider the Daily Mail to be one of the nation’s leading works of satire. And of course, if you feel you can put a better Slant on something than one of our writers, we’re open to submissions.

  6. theo Says:

    The last two times Labour party activists tried to garner my vote they appeared on my doorstep in the centre of town pissed out of their heads. Both were so ashamed to ask straight up or defend their party with the past three years of policies behind them they preferred to get out of their faces and hand out leaflets and slur words at me about ’sticking it to the Tories…traditional old party values..betrayal shouldn’t mean no hope shllllurr ..”etc

  7. DavidH Says:

    In my attempts to find a political party which I could throw myself into I have at various times joined the Lib Dems, Labour and the Greens - in that order. I left them all for the same reasons: the local party focussed on negatively attacking other parties leaving no energy left for making any real difference.

    It’s time for a change in the way politics is carried out.

    I would like to see a dual format electoral process:

    1) The political parties are allowed to contest 50 central seats (i.e not representative of any local area) via proportional representation. The PM and Cabinet would be formed from the winners of this contest.

    2) The remaining seats are elected in non-partisan local elections; with candidates having to make a legal declaration that they are not a current member of a political party. They have a legal duty to represent the views of their electorate and have to undertake formal local consultations before voting on primary legislation.

    In this way the political parties would be forced to seek a consensus and contentious issues and local communities would have much more input into the wider political process.

    I realise that this is ‘pie in the sky’ but I think it would rescue politics from its current downhill spiral.

  8. DannyMackay Says:

    David H

    your system would lead to ignorance or elitism. Without a rough party line to guide them - people would not know what the candidates in their area stood for. or - all local candidates would have to be very rich to send out leaflets and pay for radio time and billboards to make people aware of what they represent.

    and on top of that few policies and new laws would ever be passed again- it is always more popular to oppose than support - to criticise than welcome - as such - candidates with no self benefit in the over all well being of the country (the best basis for re-election as a party based government) would regularly vote against much needed change - and keep being re-elected as services failed to improve and the economy crumbled.

    in other words your proposal would destroy the fundemental basis of accountability.

  9. Eliza E. Lanyard Says:

    I quite agree with most of the achievements listed by Danny Mackay, though I’m not convinced that quite so many pensioners and children have been lifted out of poverty. And these achievements should be recognised but surely they are the very least we could have expected from a Labour government. The good things are being far outweighed by the bad things and I’m left with a distinctly unpleasant impression and an overall sense of disappointment.

  10. DannyMackay Says:


    it is indeed the least we could expect from a labour government. (though I wonder sometimes what more people expected - after all most criticism is about totalitarianism or foreign policy failure - both hall marks of socialist policies.)

    but would you expect that list from a tory government?

  11. Eliza E. Lanyard Says:

    I wouldn’t expect all of that list from a tory government but as I say I am not convinced that all of the achievements you list have actually been achieved in practice. Indirect taxes have risen so I’m not sure how much tax paid (direct and indirect) overall has actually been reduced. Friends of mine who work in the NHS would also dispute that spending has increased, they tell me it may have been increased in writing but what is actually happening on a day to day basis in terms of what they can do in surgeries and hospitals would suggest otherwise.

  12. DannyMackay Says:


    erm - while I’m all on board your point about indirect taxes (not sure how the maths works out exactly) - and while I’m also all on board with the fact the NHS has some big problems - there is one part of what you wrote that is crazy.

    I can’t believe anyone - no matter how politically blinkered - could possibly believe that the NHS has not seen spending increase in the last ten years - the fact is that spending on the NHS has doubled - its not a ludicrous claim - its not spin - its just a fact - pay for nurses doctors and porters (and so on) has risen drastically - the number of new hospitals built has skyrocketed - likewise for renovated ones.

    I didn’t mean my post to be a defence of the Labour government (Iraq is shockingly bad - and its handling of drug policy, tuition fees, and its general liking for totalitarianism really wories me)

    I completely understand old labourites being really distraught at the general free market preference of New Labour (though as it goes I’m a free marketeer).

    But seriously - what does your think is happening to the extra 40 or 50 billion pounds a year if its not going to the NHS? Sure large chunks of it got gobbled up in higher wages for NHS staff rather than being used for equipment and more operations - but is that so bad? nurses deserve decent pay.

  13. DannyMackay Says:

    that should be “what does your friend think is happening to the extra money”

  14. Eliza E. Lanyard Says:

    I absolutely agree that nurses and other health workers deserve decent pay, I don’t know the exact figures of spending increase in the NHS but what I do know is that friends of mine who work in hospitals and GP’s surgeries constantly say that they have not seen an increase in the amount of money available to them to spend directly on day to day patient care.
    My partner was told recently he would have to use a less effective drug for his migraine treatment until the start of the new financial year when he could have the more effective and more expensive drug.

  15. Cyberspice Says:

    My issue with politicians is that even when they’re right there’s a spin. There’s never any honesty.

    For example there is economic momentum. This means that a lot of a new government’s achievements in the first term are actually the result of the previous government’s policies. Policies don’t have an effect immediately but take time. In many cases it may take a couple of terms to have an effect. For example the stability of the economy and the falling unemployment figures are a result of Clarke’s policies which Brown basically continued knowing a good thing when he saw it. Give Brown his due. Giving the Bank of England autonomy was quite inspired.

    I agree the minimum wage is a good thing. I would hope that spending on schools and the NHS was going up other wise how could you give nurses and teachers pay rises without cutting costs elsewhere. Also there’s inflation so the spend should be going up anyway and as technology moves on general costs increase. The question is does the increase cover the general increase of costs? I.e. is there a genuine gain there or just a paper one?

    In some cases they don’t go far enough. Why should poor people be paying any tax anyway? If they are genuinely poor they should be below taxable earnings range?

    Tory-lite slipped in the tuition costs right at the start hoping that everyone one would forget about it. Why should 50% go to university? The distribution curve of IQs means that over 50% of people have an IQ less than average (i.e. under 100) so if 50% go to university you will have people of less than average intelligence attending. Is that a good use of taxes? University *is* eliteist. If you’re bright enough you go. If you’re not you don’t. Make it 10% and pay for everyone so that any one capable of going can regardless of their family background. Ah but that would mean rising unemployment!

    As for the unemployed training courses. They are a joke. My partner has first hand experience of them. It’s just another way to reduce the figures.

    So I am waiting for the day there’s an honest politician. One that admits that the previous government may have got things right in places. One that admits his opposition may have some good ideas. One that just doesn’t do the contrary purely because it is the contrary. One that admits to their mistakes as well as their successes. I suspect I will be waiting a long time.

    I too voted for Tory-lite. Not again. What improvements there have been have been thoroughly smothered by the disasters and climate of fear.

  16. Eliza E. Lanyard Says:

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for an honest non spinning politician will you? *grin*

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