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27/06/2007

Regime Change

So farewell then, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

Some achievements of this last government are not to be dismissed. For example: the Human Rights Act; the minimum wage; civil partnerships; the beginning of the SureStart programme; even tax credits (botched execution but with a real effect). But these are the achievements of a government (and one can imagine some of them continuing).

Likewise, the downsides: the erosion of civil liberties; ludicrous managerialism; tabloid-aimed criminal justice policies; massive extension of the earnings gap; demolition of legal aid; etc. etc.. These are the doings of a government (and many will probably continue).

It is possible to imagine these policies being carried through, or proposed at least, by virtually any of the various inhabitants of the cabinet (such as it was).

But if there is one thing that is Blair’s alone, it is Iraq – the disaster of an invasion and occupation that was illegal and unplanned to the point of criminal negligence.

Sure, the rest of them went along with it, agreed or pretended to be convinced by the clearly ludicrous warnings about the ‘threat’. But had any of them been Prime Minister, they wouldn’t actually have done it. I can’t imagine a single one of them initiating and pursuing that course of action.

I expect realpolitik and the abandonment of inconvenient principles from my politicians. I am neither surprised nor shocked by grubby associations with wealth and power, or by demagogic grandstanding.

But I could not stomach Blair after the perverse revelation of his utter lack of moral imagination that was laid bare by his insistence that he ‘did what he thought was right’ and that ‘he had to follow what he believed’ (regardless of anything like evidence). At this point, it became clear that Blair was a moral cretin who understood himself to be Savonarola.

I sincerely hope we can now return to grubby realpolitik tempered by occasional principles. And that I can vote Labour with nothing worse than the ordinary sense of betrayal and disappointment

I take it that it is too wet for the street parties?

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

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