Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ta-Ta Tony

Finally, after 10 years of his gormless grin, sweaty shirts and smarmy style, Tony Blair has announced the date when he will resign as Prime Minister.

I am no fan of Blair. In fact, in my list of irritating people, he is probably second from the top behind Gillian McKeith (if you don't know who she is, you're lucky. But you can Google her.)

When Blair became Prime Minister, I was still at school, Princess Diana was still alive and Rangers were the champions of Scotland. I don't think that TB (how apt that his initials are the same as those of a fatal disease) was responsible for my aging, Diana's death or Rangers' decline, but he can be held accountable for a lot of things.

My student days were made a lot harder when Blair's government, all of whom enjoyed a free university education, decided to abolish student grants and replace them with loans.

On a very personal level, this is the Blair government's single biggest effect on my life. House prices and interest rates may have risen and the cost of living may be higher in general, but these things would probably have happened anyway. Blair and his cabinet made the decision to charge people for the privilege of enjoying higher education, and that is something I have never been able to forgive.

One of the joys of being British is that everyone is giving a chance to do the best they can, but stripping student grants added pitfalls to what was previously a level playing field.

Nonetheless, Blair is most likely to be remembered for his actions in peace and war. His time as Prime Minister has seen the unthinkable happen in Northern Ireland, with Unionists and Republicans sharing office, setting down their weapons and attempting to forge a better future in the province. A critic of Blair's I may be, but this development should rank as his greatest achievement.

However, his actions in leading Britain into Afghanistan and Iraq will serve as the permanent legacy of his time in charge. By throwing his hat in the ring with Bush, Tony lost a lot of friends, both at home and overseas, and a lot of voters. Even now, in polling booths across the country, voters who had previously backed Blair and his New Labour have deserted him in their thousands.

Whether the war was right or not is a debate that has been done to death. Stating that the war in Iraq was in response to proof that Saddam Hussein had, or was planning to build, weapons of mass destruction, was the wrong tack to take. Had Blair said from the outset: "Saddam's an asshole, he's killing people in Iraq and we want to free the Iraqis from his tyranny", he might have found more support coming his way.

The most disturbing aspect of Blair resigning as Prime Minister is that Gordon Brown is his replacement-in-waiting. Blair may be a smarmy, soundbite-driven snake, but he certainly has charisma. Brown, on the other hand, is as dour as can be imaginable. I don't for a minute think that politicians should be elected solely on their abilities in front of the camera, but what Brown makes up in political nous, he certainly lacks in flair.

Are we on the verge of a better time? Or will we look back on Blair's decade in charge as a comparitive golden era? Only hindsight will tell.

1 comment:

mirk said...

I almost shed a tear at our ""beloved leader"" Teflon Tony! His speech... well I was nearly filling up until I realised I was not mad! ;0) well not that mad.