Sunday, 13 May 2007
The real legacy
A lot of hot air has been spouted on this topic over the last few days, in fact so much so that I really worry for the effect that this warm stream will have on the global climate in years to come. A man who has indeed proven over the years that he is an actor of the very highest order, unfortunately even his acting couldn't save him from his own despotic actions, which caught up with him in the end.
There are many things that are claimed by governments to be 'their' achievements when in reality outside factors have had the the real say, the economy has been an example of this. How much credit Labour can take for the economy is very much open to question in my opinion, economic boom and bust can remarkably hard to put down to simple cause and effect.
I'll start with his biggest failure, Iraq, whatever the ins and outs of the situation; it is undeniable that the Blair administration acted dishonestly and cynically in pushing the country into a war on the most dubious of evidence bases. It is this lack of respect for due process and a genuine contempt for democracy that sums up Blair's legacy here.
Legislation, legislation, legislation are three words that sum up Blair's ten years better than the three words Blair has used himself. It has been hard to keep track of the endless legislation that is smuggled through all in the name of the 'public interest'. The tend of the Blairite regime to chop back individual freedoms, hack away at the democratic process, increase authoritarian powers and reduce their own accountability has been quite phenomenal. Basic liberties in the areas of protesting, free speech, privacy, detention without trial, extradition and torture have all been noticeably eroded under Blair's despotic rule.
Now to the public services; it is clear that selective government propaganda, sorry I mean statistics, shows how much these services have improved under Blair's command. It is precisely this prioritisation of propaganda manufacture over genuine honest reflection that has been the recipe for disaster in the public sector. In health, education and policing Blair has has installed an unhealthy top down culture of fiddling targets which have held back progress throughout his time. The government have also used the private sector in an incredibly inefficient way via PFI schemes, the overpriced contracts here will surely hit us hard in years to come. Endless reorganisations, the regeneration of an internal market and much ideological reform have wasted billions that would have been better spent on front line services. The government cannot hide some truly shocking statistics as regards maternal mortality and rising health inequality.
There has also been a spectacular dumbing down of proper training under Blair; new quasi-trained workers have infiltrated all areas of policy in the form of physician's assistants, nurse practitioners, community support officers, classroom assistants et al. The dumbing down has take place elsewhere too; top exam grades are dished out more generously than ever before, while important subjects such as science and maths are rapidly becoming extinct both at school and at university level. This dumbing down has been driven primarily by shorttermist economics, unfortunately the country will pay a heavy price in the long term.
There is clearly too much to say on this, ten years is a long time, there has been good as well as the bad. However the real Tony Blair is the man that will be remembered, and that isn't the man who was elected in 1997, a man who really seemed to care and appeared to genuinely empathise with the plight of the man on the street. The real Tony Blair only pretends to listen and only pretends to care, he has shown his true colours by his actions in office. Everything he has done has shown downright contempt for the opinion of that very man on the street, whether it be the war in Iraq, the privatisation of the NHS or the acceptance of rule from Brussels without a referendum.
The justification has been that it has all been done in the 'public interest', a very convenient excuse for any dictator if I may say so; but he has never actually stopped to consider what this thing called the 'public interest' may actually represent, he has arrogantly assumed that he knows what is best for us and that we should damn well accept that he is in charge, or else. He has become the worst kind of leader, an unaccountable irresponsible autocrat who always thinks that he knows best. He must go down in the history books as a man who encouraged a dishonest and secretive form of government that we have all learnt to despise, and as a man who believes that he has the divine right to dismantle our sacred democratic apparatus because he should be able to do whatever he wants as our trusted leader; he is our trustworthy Tony and we should naively trust him to always act in our best interests.
Tony Blair is a man that has lost the respect and trust of the public that he claims to represent, no amount of chatter or spin can change this fact. The opinion of the public will decide how Tony goes is remembered in years to come, even Alastair Campbell can't help him out of this dark hole. It's summed up when I mention the name Tony Blair to my elderly patients and when I ask 'what do you think of the Prime Minister?', even the most mild mannered old lady will angrily mutter while death staring the floor:
'that bastard, Tony Blair.....'