Blair's poor legacy 1

September 8, 2006

Vernon Bogdanor surely performs a sleight of hand by conflating the actions of the 1997 Labour Government with the role of Tony Blair ("Labour's great hero who nearly was", September 1). The constitutional reforms of the early part of the Labour Government, such as devolution and the Freedom of Information Act, were, as Bogdanor says, inherited. Equally, Blair can hardly claim any credit for the economic policies of Chancellor Gordon Brown.

Where Blair has been vocal it has been more a matter of inspiration through slogans such as "modernisation" of public services. Yet changes in the way public services are provided surely began with previous Conservative privatisations. Blair's "modernisation" has added to this policy a swathe of often incoherent initiatives, allied to rigid performance indicators.

Blair has not challenged the Labour Party with his ideas. His legacy may well be the vacuum left behind as ill-conceived slogans held sway while democratic debate was systematically stifled. The one arena of decisive Blairite action has been foreign policy. Whatever the results of a YouGov poll dubiously carried out in the circumstances of intense civil conflict in Iraq, polls in Britain show that Blair is more likely to be remembered alongside figures such as Anthony Eden as an instigator of reckless foreign military intervention.

Felix Thompson
Derby University

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