So, Blair’s gone. Ten years in power, and all that. Hm.
I’ll miss him, I think, or at least I’ll miss his skills as a political performer (he could be breathtaking at times, and performance is something that impresses me). I’ve been thankful for some things he’s done, and hated others, but I think history is going to end up being kind on the domestic front. While things in the UK aren’t perfect, and certainly haven’t lived up to the expectations the nation had when he walked into number ten, it’s hard to disagree that, compared to 1997, we’re better off pretty well across the board. Overseas is, of course, another matter. Yet detractors of his actions in Iraq would have you forget about his leading role in Kosovo. These are the big international issues where lives have been won and lost in the hundreds of thousands, and he’s been a player on both sides of that equation. Ten years is a long time, and he’s had a massive impact, both negative and positive.
Time for new blood though. Is Brown up to the challenge? Like him or loathe him, Blair leaves a fair whack of political void behind him, and the Scotsman is a more contemplative, less persuasive figure than his predecessor.
My favourite Blair moment of the decade was probably his ability to give voice to the tragedy of 9/11 in a way that Bush was entirely incapable of, and which seemed to do more for Americans trying to grasp what had happened to them than their President could ever hope to offer.
Lots of worst moments too, but he’s gone now, so it’s on to examining the new boy…