everything and nothing. not really sure yet.

Friday, May 11, 2007


I've been very careful to avoid blogging about anything over the last couple of weeks, although there was plenty to talk about. I guess I felt that there was too much to talk about. But now, the news is finally out, and I guess I may as well follow the herd.

Now, I am not exactly Tony Blair's biggest fan, but I do feel he has been treated with an undue harshness. By most measures of quality of life, Britain has improved greatly in the last ten years (Check out this feature on the BBC website, allowing you to compare statistic graphs). The Health Service has had a lot of money poured into it and produced higher standards (although I have spent the majority of my life with Blair in charge and have little personal experience of the pre-1997 NHS - though not no experience). Education standards have also improved - in that results have improved - but whether quality of education has improved is open to debate. In a recent physics lesson, my teacher bemoaned Blair for creating "a generation who are experts in trivia". It is certainly true that a lot of the later school years (age 14+) consist of "dotting the I's and crossing the T's", but I think that education has gotten fairer, and more people from a lower income background are attending further education. Whether this has provided "equality of opportunity" is again debatable. Tony Blair is also the first Prime Minister to secure a meaningful peace deal in Northern Ireland - likely to be a key factor in how his time in office is viewed in 30-40 years time.

There are also great failures that cannot be avoided. The gap between rich and poor seems to be growing. The wide range of privatisation under New Labour is also not to my taste. The two biggest scars on Blair's record are most likely the war in Iraq, and "cash-for-honours". I never supported the war - although I know many who did - but I also think that Tony Blair thought he was doing the right thing. I would blame the Bush administration (in particular Rumsfeld, and Lord Voldemort - sorry, Dick "world's best case for gun control" Cheney) more than Blair. I do not defend Blair over Iraq, but I do not blame him either. As for cash-for honours, if anything illegal did take place, then that is obviously wrong, and the smell of corruption will taint Blair's time as Prime Minister. I am not, yet, 100% convinced that they have evidence of wrongdoing (though that does not mean that there was no wrongdoing), and I do feel that the story has been blown slightly out of proportion. I doubt that Labour are the only party guilty of loans-for-peerages (if they are guilty). Note that the two biggest political lenders in the Sunday Times Rich List this year are both Tory peers (Lords Ashcroft and Laidlaw).

Blair is probably at his most unpopular ever, but is that really deserved? He has done plenty of good to go with the bad, and he has been the victim of a relentless media assault over a variety of issues (some deserved, some not). State-provided services have certainly improved, and I would pick him over John Major/William Hague/Michael Howard and their laissez-faire attitude towards public services any day. As for David Cameron and his "new" Conservatives, well, does he really believe in anything at all? Although I suppose many would say the same about Blair.


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