Can’t we forget about Iraq and accept that Tony Blair nudged some crumbs off the rich man’s table? Can’t we forget that he laid the groundwork for the nutty doings of Gove and Lansley and celebrate the fact that thousands who were one pound below the poverty line were given a pound and thus ‘lifted out of poverty’? Can’t we forget that he presided over a yawning gap between rich and poor, and remember that while he was Labour leader, the Tories kept losing elections?
Okay, let’s look at that one. The Tories were finished in 1997, and the gruesome procession of awkward supply-leaders after Major couldn’t turn things round – they were a party of mean-spirited weirdoes, on the wrong side of history and traumatised by their own recriminations since the fall of Thatcher. They were in awe of Gordon Brown, and couldn’t see how they could compete with his stewardship of the economy.
He introduced a minimum wage, set at an absolute minimum. He introduced tax credits to subsidise miserly employers. He let bankers run riot. What’s not to like? They supported his spending plans right up until the financial crisis – something Labour politicians have been oddly shy about throwing back at them.
And the Tories were, with one or two exceptions, gung-ho about Blair’s bellicosity, so even voters who thought it a terrible mistake felt they might as well have Labour warmongers in power if the alternative was Tory ones. And Blair ignored massive opposition to war, leaving millions beaten into apathy or alienated from politics. And maddened by their own guilt, the Labour goons who supported it were happy that Ed Miliband should come a cropper and no longer remind them of the blood on their hands. So, no, it’s not time to rehabilitate Tony Blair.