Thursday, May 10, 2007

The best thing Tony Blair has ever done

Goodbye. Good riddance.Sadly we've got another few weeks of him but the end is finally in sight. (BBC News: Blair will stand down on 27 June)

Everyone is scrambling to write the political obituaries and finding the same question - just what are Blair's achievements as Prime Minister?

Now a lot will rush and say "independence for the Bank of England" and "years of a strong economy", but I question whether these are Blair's achievements rather than Gordon Brown's. Scottish devolution? I would credit that to Donald Dewar. Indeed many of these supposed achievements seem to originated elsewhere from Downing Street.

The obvious exception is peace in Northern Ireland. Whilst others played their part (and have been rightly rewarded), it cannot be denied that the time Blair invested in the peace process (the area of government policy he gave more attention to than any other) has been essential for pushing the process forward.

And the other achievement is political. Blair transformed the Labour Party into a strong fighting force. He also destroyed the complacency that had built up in the Conservative Party. Indeed many of the changes made to the party in the last few years have been in direct response to the impact of New Labour. Ironically in the long run Blair's true political legacy may scarily be closer to the Conservative Party than the Labour Party.

And of course there have been failures. But rather than list them all, let's stick to just one - his own definition:

"My project will be complete when my party learns to love Peter Mandelson."

So he leaves with the project unfulfilled...

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