Monday, 11 September 2006

Tony Blair stepping down

Well over the past week, Blair has announced he shall step down within twelve months.

I won't be sorry to see him go, in all honesty. I've disliked Blair ever since he lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Granted, politicians always lie. Nonetheless, the PM dragged Britain into a foreign war, even though there was no direct threat against us.

Of course, Tony Blair is a man of big government. No libertarian can really endorse his politics or those of New Labour. The last truly "libertarian" PM was probably in office prior to World War II.

How will political historians view Blair? Well I don't believe he will be viewed as one of the "great" PM's. I'd think he'd be remembered for his government's constitutional reforms, such as partial reform of the House of Lords, devolution in Scotland and Wales, the Human Rights Act, reform of the role of Lord Chancellor, etc. There is also the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, which hopefully can lead to a lasting peace in Ulster.

His time as PM has been blighted by sleaze, but then so what really? Politicians and sleaze go together like ham and eggs, so it's only to be expected. It is disappointing in the sense that Blair stated his government would be "whiter than white" (in comparison with the Major Conservative government), but then all politicians lie, don't they?

I suppose the economy has remained strong under New Labour. But in 1997, the economy was quite healthy. In essence, the Major government laid a solid economic foundation after the early 90's recession which lasted until the New Labour landslide in the 1997 general election. In 1997, GDP growth was above trend, inflation was low, unemployment was falling and the balance of payments was manageable (whilst being negative).

The Blair government should also be rebuked for their authoritarianism. We shouldn't reduce liberty for extra security. Blair may feel that the Islamists hate our way of life, still that does not justify dismantling the historical basis of English common law.

Personally I feel Blair will be remembered most for creating the New Labour ethos. Even though a move towards a centrist position for Labour occured first under Kinnock, Blair finished the modernisation of the Labour party by appealing to "middle England". Revising "Clause IV" of the party's constitution enabled this plus continuing the adoption of Thatcerite economics which first happened under Kinnock.
Who will be the next PM/Labour leader? I reckon that Brown is the favourite, though I feel that Reid and David Milliband would also be contenders.