Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister, is making a political comeback. He has been embraced by Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party. Blair is controversial, but there are few politicians with as many good ideas and charm as he has, 70-year old Blair is ‘young’, compared to USA leader, and speaks smooth, yet it is not enough to be considered a viable candidate for a leader. But as a distraction he is perfect.
In our collective memory, the now 70-year-old Tony Blair is primarily remembered as the man who made the disastrous decision to participate in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It turned out to be the breeding ground for the rise of the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS). Iraq still clings to him, but sixteen years after his premiership (1997-2007), many Britons recognize that Blair also accomplished a lot of good, such as investing in healthcare, education, and his contribution to the peace agreement in Northern Ireland.
Seven deadly sins of Tony Blair as a politician:
- Iraq War: One of the most significant failures associated with Tony Blair’s legacy is his decision to join the United States in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The decision was based on intelligence that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed weapons of mass destruction, which later turned out to be false. The war resulted in significant loss of life, destabilization of the region, and a lack of clear post-war planning.
- Handling of Intelligence: Blair’s government was criticized for the way it presented intelligence on Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction to the public and Parliament. The lack of concrete evidence and the later revelation that some information had been exaggerated or misrepresented damaged his credibility.
- Trust in Government: The Iraq War and controversies surrounding the handling of intelligence eroded public trust in Blair’s government. This lack of trust extended to other policy areas and led to a general scepticism of political leaders.
- Failure to Address Wealth Inequality: Despite being associated with “New Labour,” Blair faced criticism for not doing enough to address wealth inequality in the UK. Economic policies during his tenure were seen by some as favoring the wealthy while not doing enough to uplift marginalized communities.
- NHS Reforms: Blair’s government introduced reforms to the National Health Service (NHS) that were met with resistance from some healthcare professionals and critics who argued that the changes introduced more market-oriented elements into the healthcare system, potentially compromising its accessibility and quality.
- Lack of Strong Regulation in Financial Sector: Blair’s government was criticized for not implementing stronger regulatory measures in the financial sector. This failure was seen as contributing to the 2008 global financial crisis and its impact on the UK economy.
- Failure to Address Public Concerns: Blair faced backlash from the public over issues such as university tuition fees, the introduction of identity cards, and the expansion of executive powers. His government was criticized for not adequately addressing these concerns.
Let’s not forget a mad cow disease and corrupt ties with dictators in Central Asia.
Despite it some media are certain: the former Prime Minister is clearly determined to reassert himself as a major player in British politics. The man who led Labour and the country for ten years is now given ample space by his party to engage in political policy. Blair stands on stage together with party leader Starmer during party meetings; a sign of ultimate reconciliation. Why does Labour need him?
Blair’s return is not intended as a political leader or even as Prime Minister. No, that’s Starmer’s role. The likelihood that Labour will win the parliamentary elections next year is very high. The Tories have been in power for too long and have plunged the country into a major economic crisis. They are also very passive, knowing that they will soon be out of the game for a while.
Starmer needs ideas to pull the UK out of its slump. He is keeping his powder dry, fearing that he might lose some of the current support if he, for example, floats a trial balloon that doesn’t sit well. Blair has that space and is someone who can suggest various political changes in the background. In the role of advisor to the party, he can wield a lot of influence.
The former Prime Minister leads the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, an institution that advises governments of various countries on democracy, technology, energy, and more. Within his organization, there are numerous experts in various fields whom he is already positioning within Labour. They will partly determine the political course for the coming years.
Blair has the ability to explain and solve the most complex issues clearly. Blair still has opponents, especially on the left wing of Labour. But the political tide is now in his favour, and we will notice that, especially after the elections that will be held within a year.