Tony Blair is an odd combination of Peter Keating and Gail Wynand [two characters from Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead. (OK, that's somewhat of a stretch, but bear with me.) Like Keating (and like 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.And:
Blair stole what once made the Tories worth anything at all, and it's clear they still don't want it back.And:
Blair is unashamedly willing to confront those who oppose him and argue out of principle.And:
"Mr Blair said the struggle facing the world today was not just about security. It was also "a struggle about values and modernity, whether to be at ease with it or enraged at it." It certainly is. Remarkable to hear that from a politician.In the end, he reformed the British Labour Party, expelling (hopefully for good) the Trotskyites and Bolsheviks with which it was then infested, making it once again electable. For Britain, he largely preserved the results of the Thatcher Revolution -- something the Tories were not going to do. And as he said last night, he did as Prime Minister "what he thought was right" rather than just what was expedient -- something few politicians can say.
But after ten years in power? He first came to prominence as shadow Home Secretary with his promise to be "tough on crime, and tough on the causes of crime." He wasn't. Instead he was tough on gun control (leading to an explosion of armed crime) and tough on Big Brother intrusions such as email invasion and the proposed introduction of ID cards. And he leaves power with the 'cash for honours' scandal still ringing in his ears, a scandal that mirrors in many respects Labour's pledge card scandal here at home.
So his legacy is mixed -- Gail Wynand and Paul Keating -- but that's still much better than most.