British Labour will be happy -- with Blair gone they can now have less Bush, less Cherie, less Iraq, more government, more spending and more Brussells (which means much more government and much more spending). UK Tories will be happy -- Brown is not a patch on Blair for either presentation or principle (although they are faced with the problems that with Blair gone, Cameron will now have no one to emulate). There's no doubt that the legacy of Blair will cast a long shadow over both of them, though less so perhaps than Thatcher's still does.
Liberty Scott has a fair summary of the positives and negatives of the Blair years with which I largely concur. Here's some snippets from a few months back giving my own assessment , one from the archives, beginning with this observation:
Tony Blair is an odd combination of two characters from Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead: principled bu pragmatic Gail Wynand and Peter Keating, the man with a second-hand soul. 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 ringing in his ears -- a scandal mirroring in many respects Labour's pledge card scandal here at home -- and with his egregious Stern Report and the ignominious capitulation of himself and 15 marines in the Gulf still ringing in some of ours.
So his legacy is mixed -- both Gail Wynand and Peter Keating. Sadly, it was the principled part of the Wynand half for which he became least popular, not the second-handedness of the Peter Keating. But fear not fans of second-handers, Peter Keating is still alive and well in British politics: he's now leading the Tories.
Cartoon by Cox and Forkum.