It is easy to criticise Tony Blair. His depiction as a war-monger in both the left-wing and right-wing media was only amplified following the Chilcot report’s damning conclusions. An academic study in 2013 estimated the number of war-related deaths in Iraq to be nearly half a million. The idea of men in suits sending troops and bomber planes to the other side of the world because of plain ‘politics’ still infuriates many, and the left has never forgiven Blair for his siding with George W Bush. The former Labour prime minister did, of course, have his reasons, but it is difficult still for anybody to be absolutely sure of his motives. Dodgy notes and improper planning uncovered by Chilcot do not help his cause. One thing that can be concluded, regardless of the views expressed by all sides on the justification of the Iraq war, is that mistakes were definitely made.
I have always thought it unfair that due to these mistakes, the left completely ignores Blair’s plethora of achievements. Tom Watson in his speech to the Labour Conference in Liverpool earlier this year spoke about the need for unification, the need to be ‘the party of Britain’. He continued, much to the current Labour leader’s obvious dismay, to proudly speak of the changes that Labour can make when it is in power, rattling them off one after another as the conference’s applause grew louder and louder: the lifting of millions out of poverty, a national minimum wage, new hospitals and lower crime rates, to name a few.
Tony Blair was very good at winning; his record of winning three consecutive general elections in the UK has been matched only by Margaret Thatcher. His New Labour movement attracted not only members of the left who saw his raw potential to gain power, but disillusioned Conservatives. Blair managed to unify voters from all over the political spectrum winning a massive 418 seats for Labour, a record high for the party. Labour today under Jeremy Corbyn have a comparatively measly 231 seats. This number is predicted by all projections to tumble even more in 2020. Blair was clearly able to speak to people in a way that few politicians ever could.
In the aftermath of a catastrophic mistake made by David Cameron in the name of party politics, the unnecessary referendum that has led to the disastrous decision to take Britain out of the European Union, the country needs a politician that can fight post-truth politics, that can competently attempt to tackle the government’s agenda to push forward with a decision that has blown a £100bn hole in the budget, a decision that has led to an increase in racial attacks, a movement towards isolationism. This competent attempt is not going to come from the Labour party in its current state. It is wrong to shun the man that can and might help us because of a mistake, terrible though it may have been.
(Image courtesy of the Huffington Post UK)