June 18, 2014 by Paul Goldsmith
The problem with Tony Blair is that for a number of reasons people aren’t prepared to actually listen to anything he says any more. This week has been talking about Iraq and instead of actually thinking about his arguments (which you can read about here and you can also read about here) there was the usual chorus of “shut up”, “war criminal” and “we told you so”. Any attempt by Blair to contribute to a debate in which, whether you agree with his opinion or not, he does actually have a lot of knowledge about now results in too many people sticking their fingers in their ears and singing “la-la-la-la” at the top of their voices. As Benedict Brogan asked in the Telegraph recently – what if, on this particular issue, he is right?
The problem with Tony Blair is that many people simply will not be satisfied until he is hung drawn and quartered. Owen Jones writes in the Guardian about his feelings on this issue (click here to read that) – claiming in particular that the Chilcot inquiry (which was a detailed investigation on the decision to go to war in Iraq will either “confirm or whitewash” that Blair was committed to invade come what may. This argument is closely examined in an excellent blog (read that here) which points out that people like Jones have decided that they will only accept one verdict, which is not how independent inquiries are supposed to work. Further to that are the efforts of George Galloway – who is currently filming a provocatively titled documentary – “The Killing of Tony Blair” – in which the ‘killing’ in question is actually the money he has made out of the destabilization the Iraq invasion has caused in the Middle East. Galloway, along with many others, will not stop until Blair (and George Bush) are tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for War Crimes. There is simply nothing that will persuade them otherwise. The hatred is so visceral now that after the protests at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral I heard talk on social media that those are nothing compared to what will happen when Blair dies.
The problem with Tony Blair is that he blew the best chance this country has ever had to become democratic socialist. That chance was the 2001 election. You may think it was the 1997 election, but such was the fear of the Labour Party at the time that they would blow it again having come so close in the 1992 election, so their manifesto for the 1997 election was about soothing the fears of the swing voters they needed to attract and once they did so they didn’t have a mandate to enact any proper socialist policies. But the Conservative Party were in such disarray in 2001 that the Labour Party manifesto at that election could have done a great deal more to deal with inequality, a great deal more to deal with poverty, a great deal more to regulate the excesses of capitalism. But it didn’t, and this led to the disillusionment of many lifelong Labour supporters, and eventually to the rather odd situation of the only ever Labour politician to have won three elections being booed at the 2010 Labour conference when his name was mentioned.
Because the biggest problem with Tony Blair is that he won. Three times when he was Labour leader, and then, since leaving office he has covered himself with money, despite not covering himself with glory. This is why the poll in The Sun on Sunday that said that voters would be twice as likely to vote for Labour at the 2015 election if Tony Blair were in charge instead of Ed Miliband will be so frustrating to so many people. They must be thinking – “if WE get it, why don’t the public get it”.
That’s the problem with Tony Blair.