Tony Blair faced his last PMQs on Wednesday and yesterday hosted his final cabinet meeting as Prime Minister. In 10-20 years time, how will political historians assess his term in office? It's far too early to make any definitive assessments, but the medai are already at it so I thought I'd just jump on the bandwagon.
In the immediate aftermath, it’s easy to point to Northern Ireland and Iraq as the high and low points respectively, but will there be any other achievement/failure which merits comment in the longer term?
These are just some ramblings on the Blair Legacy - more questions than answers, undera number of broad headings.
New Labour - moving Labour & UK politics to the centre, to be followed there by the conservatives.
New Labour’s “3rd way” - “left-wing” social policies funded by “right-wing” economic policies.
A 3-term, longest serving Labour PM, unlikely to be repeated by his successor.
Spin/Relationship with media. Will it even merit a footnote in history?
“Cash for Honours” - will anything stick, or does the public believe they‘re all at it anyway?
Northern Ireland - peaceful resolution of the constitutional position, probably his greatest political achievement. But will it last 10-20 years? When eventually transition to real Govt/Opposition political structures takes place, will the dam hold? Will NI vote for United Ireland within the next 20 years?
Devolution - Scottish Parliament, Welsh & NI Assemblies. Will these be hailed as examples of devolution of power at its best, or cited as the start of the process that led to the break-up of the UK? Alex Salmon for Head of the Commonwealth?
Education reform- will City Academies be remembered for changing the educational prospects of inner city kids or just be a footnote” in the “cash for honours“ chapter?
Reform of Lords - partially complete, will it stall? Will the hereditaries hang on? Will House of Lords reform also be just a footnote in the “cash for honours” chapter?
Economy: a decade of steady growth, growing employment, industrial peace. Will this just be taken for granted, or will all the credit be given to Gordon Browne?
Iraq will be engraved on his tombstone - though he’s still probably hoping for a miracle turnaround there which will result in a positive outcome, eventually. Afghanistan may go either way. He’ll hope to be gone before Iran comes to a head.
A big fan of the EU, he promised to place the UK at the heart of Europe. Instead, his alliance with Bush may have created a new barrier there. The paradox is that Sarkozy & Merkel might be much more amenable to stronger US ties, in contrast to Chirac and Schroder. Despite his initial desire for sterling to join the Eurozone, it looks further away than ever. And he seems to be ending his premiership doing a Mgt Thatcher at his final EU summit.
3rd World - his Commission for Africa, established in 2004, work in the G8, relief of 3rd world debt, WTO Doha round etc - what long-term impact will these have?
Ditto the Environment and initiatives such as the Kyoto Agreement and successor agreements e.g. G8 summit at Heiligendamm in 2007.
There are many other potential topic areas e.g.
National Security post 9/11, London bombings July 7th 2005
Law & Order/Society - ID cards, ASBOs, CCTV, extended detention
Etc etc etc
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