Older, greyer, sadder – but maybe not wiser – a former leader has returned to the spotlight. He was right all along. His party would still be in power if only the true way – that would be his way – had been followed. Anything that went wrong was someone else’s doing. It could only be Tony Blair.
Yes, some very good things came out of the Blair premiership, and yesterday there were many who turned out to have their copies of his memoirs signed who were grateful for his negotiation of the minefield of Northern Irish politics in pursuing what became known as the Good Friday Agreement. Blair was in Dublin, where most of those on the streets supported him.
Others, however, were throwing eggs and shoes, with one attempting a citizen’s arrest. And the distaste for some of the causes Blair espoused is not confined to this side of the North Atlantic, as a piece by David Corn for Mother Jones shows. Corn has zeroed in on one meeting between Tone and “Dubya” Bush not long before the invasion of Iraq.
The record of that meeting tells that Bush had already decided on a date to begin the invasion before the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get a second UN resolution specifically legitimising the action. Moreover, the then Prez was not optimistic that the so-called Weapons Of Mass Destruction, or WMDs, even existed. He therefore thought through ways of provoking conflict by less than honest means.
Blair, the supposedly “straight kind of guy”, appears not to have dissented from what was, in effect, Bush trying to figure out how to trick Saddam Hussein into excusing an invasion, where no pretext or proper mandate existed. It’s not a trivial matter: the whole Iraq business stained Blair’s record, his third election victory coming without much enthusiasm from the electorate.
As more of the machinations behind the scenes was revealed, and Blair himself became ever more illiberal – even suggesting that ninety days detention without trial was justifiable – the assertion that he could have won again is dubious. Would he have held on to as many seats as Pa Broon? His most ardent supporters will always be ready to fight his corner, support his legacy. Many others will not.
And the real tragedy is that Blair himself will not waver, not listen, and not learn. The result of the 2010 General Election is his responsibility as well.