Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Bliar - The Hype Spawned The Hatred

Gideon Rachman, writing in the FT, suggests that the loathing of Tony Blair is overdone. He says that "...Mr Blair made his fateful decision on Iraq for reasons that were both honourable and understandable... the decision to back the invasion was not an isolated act of Blair-inspired lunacy. It reflected the conventional wisdom of the British political establishment."

What Gideon overlooks is that Blair never sought a mandate to govern according to "the conventional wisdom of the British political establishment." He offered us change, personal empowerment, the Third Way, an end to 'boom and bust' etc, etc. Then he and his ministers proceeded to behave in a way that even his most ardent supporters found thoroughly disillusioning by comparison. Not just ignoring mass demonstrations on Iraq, but systematically ignoring the House of Commons, dedicating themslves to spin, tolerating the Mandelson affairs, perpetuating the dysfunctional relationship with Brown and so on. Gideon Rachman suggests that Blair's election victory in 2005 means "the idea that the British voters rounded on Mr Blair in disgust after Iraq is simply false." But this view conflicts with Blair's own admission during his resignation speech:
In his speech to supporters at lunchtime, Mr Blair dealt directly with Iraq, many people's perception as his ultimate legacy, saying: "The blowback since ... has been fierce, unrelenting and costly."
The disaster of Iraq had continued to snowball since 2005, coinciding in 2007 with the realisation that the economic cycle had turned (despite Blair's promise of an end to boom and bust), which is when Blair gave his hospital pass to Gordon Brown and set sail for untold wealth on the speaking circuit. By November 2007, the Bank of England was actively trying to manage the impact of the looming economic slowdown.

But such was the height and breadth of expectation that Blair had set for himself not even his resignation could spare him from the impact of all the bad military, economic and political news that was to follow.

The hype had already spawned the hatred.

Image from Gideon Rachman's cited article in the FT.

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