Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tony Blair: An Appreciation

Tony Blair has announced that he will step down as Prime Minister in Britain. This was long expected. His support has sunk lower than President Bush's. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor to the Exchequer (finance minister) will likely succeed Blair as Prime Minister.

My closest British friends are leaders in the Liberal Democratic Party, the third party of British politics for which there is no American equivalent. I have done door-to-door canvassing -- "knocking up" in the wonderful British expression -- for the Lib Dems.

Nonetheless, I have always appreciated Tony Blair for bringing the great Labour Party, the counterpart of my Democratic Party, back to the center (that is, the centre). New Labour, as Blair calls it, broke the socialist stagnation into which Labour had fallen, and shook off the persistent Loony Left.

Reagan had an excellent counterpart in Thatcher. Bush One, the sequel to Reagan, was matched in many ways by Major, the sequel to Thatcher. Clinton and Blair were so well matched in their style, their approach to party leadership, and their finding a middle way between the left and right of the moment that it was eerie.

Then came the election of 2000, which broke the pattern. Blair and Bush don't match. Yes, Blair has been a strong war ally (leader, really) for Bush Two, but they do not match in any other way. If Gore had won the 2000 election (as I think he did in all but the crucial technical sense), then the balance would have been maintained. And with dour and wonky Al Gore in the White House, perhaps Tony Blair would have given way to dour and wonky Gordon Brown five years ago. Blair would have preserved his legacy, Labour would be in a stronger position than it is now, the balance between Mother Country and Eldest Child would have been maintained. Oh, and the United States and Britain would be leading the world in fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, instead of fighting alone in someone else's civil war in Iraq.


Vigilante said...

It comes to me why Blair is more popular in America than Bush: His French is better than Bush's English.

Northern Ireland aside, But what can you say?

Tony Bliar was:
* One of England's most talented politicians.
* One of the U.K.'s worse statesmen.
* The U.S.A.'s greatest Prime Ministers.

If he comes to the USA, Bush will make him War Czar. (no one on this side of the Pond will consider this novel position & Tony Bliar's experience and track record alone proves his qualifications.

Anonymous said...

See, I always thought war czar was for natural-born american citizens. If that's not true then I think Ahhnold would make a great war czar, I mean talk about the most intimidating politician EVER.

Anonymous said...

We have had the distinct displeasure of living in the United Kingdom during the past five years of increasing social and economic decrepitude and unrest. We have witnessed the ever-widening chasm between rich and working classes, the abject failures of integration with/into the EU, the runaway housing market that excludes everyone but the already-wealthy from owning a home. Having intended ourselves to buy a property we soon realised that $500,000 didn't qualify us for even a run of the mill house. The overly expensive National Health Service is diabolical and seems to infect as many patients as it cures. Towns are teeming with horrifying "YOBS" after dark. YOBS being the current designation for roaming drugged and drunken gangs of youth who threaten each other and everyone in general. They inhabit and terrify even the smallest and most quaint boroughs. Although proud of the relative lack of gun crime, the UK anti-social element brandishes knives, chains and baseball bats: with equivalent deadly result. Last week on the posh Prince's Street of Edinburgh, our daughter and friends were horrified to find a man beaten with a chain, lying in his own blood with his teeth floating alongside him. You are welcome as a tourist with a large credit on your Visa card. Don't try moving here, however, because racism against Americans is overwhelming as daily social fare. You may qualify as dual citizens, as we did, but an American accent alone is qualification for endless derisory remarks from Brits who have never set foot in the States. We avoid responding. But I was inspired to list the dozens of examples of British Imperialism on a blog last week which decried American industrial activities in South America. Even now, Wales and Scotland would love to be Welsh and Scottish, but have never been given an option. North Sea oil is owned by Westminster. Undoubtedly there will be a change in the wind in Scotland with the election of the SNP. Meanwhile, we are moving to France.

Stushie said...

"dour and wonky Gordon Brown"

You really don't know this guy, do you? He's as sharp as a laser. He may not have the Tony Blair looks, but he will be a very strong leader for good across Britain and around the world.

He'll have British troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of this year.

Gruntled said...

Hey, I am a Presbyterian and a nerd: dour and wonky I like.

Anonymous said...

Don't know where you got such an incredible take on Gordon Brown. He has brought the UK to the brink of bankruptcy with stealth taxes and hidden inflation, destruction of the pension structure, ruinous house prices and sub-standard banking practices, all the while catering to interests of the financial autocracy of London. Over here he is credited with entirely destroying the place while letting Blair act as front man. Any thinking Brits want nothing of him and resent his being visited on the population further without even an election. He's allowed Blair to personally take all the bad notices for failures of their administration in relation to Iraq while, in fact, Brown was courting George Bush even prior to impending "coronation" on June 27th. If you want the full story, by all means read recent "Have Your Say" comments on the BBC news online. It's horrifyingly unanimous.