Christopher Hitchens says he's waited forty years to "vote Labour on a point of principle," but the recent UK election has made that possible. Read Hitchen's extended comments here. For myself, I have to say I did once enjoy a Labour victory - 1987's Labour win is still a milestone in NZ's political history - but I little thought such a time would come again. It has.
Blair's principled stand on the liberation of Iraq has however made it possible to actually enjoy his election victory, for where his political opponents and spineless other European 'statesmen' vacillated and wavered (Bonjour Monsieur Chirac, Herr Schroeder and the miserable Michael Howard) Tony Blair has been absolutely solid on the necessity for the Iraq invasion. And he was right to be so.
This was really what the British call a khaki election, one in which Blair's stand in Iraq was put to the people of Britain. Thankfully the side of right has won. Just.
"Arguing about the war in Britain is quite different, in point of tone and alignment, from debating it in the United States," says Hitchens. Very different to debating it here as well. Unlike here and in the US, Britain seems to allow a rather more nuanced view on the necessity for regime change than the reflexive bile always so evident elsewhere when the words 'Bush' and 'Iraq' are mentioned in the same sentence.
Everywhere that is except, it seems, in the Tory party (Hitchens suggests "Anti-Americanism in Britain has long been a conservative rather than a radical trope, and dislike for George Bush is very common among the aristocratic remnant") or electorates such as Bethnal Green and Bow in which unreconstructed Stalinist and paid-up Saddamite apologist George Galloway - expelled from the Labour Party for calling for jihad on British soldiers - managed to disgrace his own election victory with a taste of the bitterness his campaign of hate engendered. (See some of that bitterness here in his interview with Jeremy Paxman.) Much of that hatred was deservedly directed at Galloway himself; as Hitchens comments, "How satisfying that those who support the Iraqi 'insurgency' from a safe distance have now received a taste of its real character."
So in the end, as TIADaily.com says,"Tony Blair has won a historic third term as prime minister--but he has little to be happy about, since he did it with only 37 percent of the vote as his party lost dozens of seats in Parliament. The only reason he won was the incredible weakness of the opposition, especially Conservative leader Michael Howard, who went through an embarrassing series of flip-flops on the Iraq war (and who now plans to resign).
Tony Blair is an odd combination of Peter Keating and Gail Wynand. (OK, that's a stretch, but bear with me.) Like Keating (and Clinton), Blair sought to be all things to all people, pursuing a compromising "Third Way" policy. Like Wynand, however, what brought him down was his one semi-principled act: his support for the Iraq War, an act that could not be made consistent with his overall character and history."
[UPDATE: I just came across this BBC account of the Oona King-George Galloway brawl in Tower Hamlets. Said Oona of George, "What makes me sick is that when I come across someone who is guilty of genocide I do not get on a plane and go to Baghdad and grovel at his feet," referring to Mr Galloway's controversial meeting with Saddam Hussein 11 years ago. Almost makes me wish I could have voted for her myself.]