Thursday, May 10, 2007

 

A Tragic Announcement… Oh, Who Am I Kidding?

Ding Dong! The Witch is dead!
Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up, you sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead.
She’s gone where the goblins go,
Below, below, below, yo-ho,
Let’s open up and sing, and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Witch is dead!
Perhaps I should wait until it’s verified legally, but he is morally, ethically, spiritually, politically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably finished. And he has, of course, been so for years. Technically, even now he’s not gone yet, but after this latest, absurdly stage-managed (and characteristically pre-announced), self-justifying, faux-humble, faux-apologetic pile of cant, even this loathsome lying hypocrite will find it difficult to wiggle out of this announcement. Holding my breath that he doesn’t declare martial law, fulfil his greatest unrealised ambition by arresting Gordon Brown, and call the whole thing off, on the 27th of June the streets will ring to the joyous cheer, “Hail, hail, the Witch is dead.” As always, it emerged first through his spin doctors.

More charitable political obituaries will remember the first few months of Mr Blair’s reign, when he put into practice proposals championed by other leaders and other parties, all of which he was lukewarm over at the time and has bitterly regretted since: freedom of information; Scottish and Welsh devolution; the Human Rights Act. He grits his teeth and struggles to chip away at them to this day. And since then… What? Been more Tory than the Tories? Centralised more power than ever known in peacetime? Demanded government control to micromanage every area of our lives? Swept away centuries of British freedoms, so that reviled kings like John or Richard III who introduced them are certain to look better in the history books than he does? Brought in dozens of criminal justice acts that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on while displaying nothing but contempt for the Rule of Law? Yes, what an incredible achievement it was to win three elections in a row, even with the astounding luck that our supercasino voting system gave him a jackpot of power with barely a third of voters backing him. But isn’t it still more incredible that, having won such immense majorities and all that power, Mr Blair so clearly had absolutely not the faintest idea of what to do with it, except keep it? No wonder he’s hung on so long. What else was he there for, but to be there? Mr Blair is the most public proof ever displayed that it’s not the size that matters, but what you do with it. Look at his record at home, and his protracted period of incompetently Orwellian absolute power has left nothing but the most mean-spirited of marks.

But it isn’t for any of those things that Mr Blair will be remembered. His legacy is one thing, and one only.

Iraq.

Because of Mr Blair’s appalling judgement and because of Mr Blair’s shameless lies, hundreds of thousands of people are dead, terrorists rejoice at the recruits he’s brought to them, and Britain is reviled around the world. Even before he came to power, Mr Blair had made ‘spin’ famous. His relationship with truth was always tenuous. But his lies to take Britain to war with Iraq, his lies to smear the opponents brave enough to stand up to him at the time, and his lies to cover it all up mean that politics has never been regarded with such contempt. And that’s not unfair. Because when the Prime Minister lies about something so serious, we all deserve to be held to account for it.

Tony Blair has had a hideously corrosive effect on British politics. Even when he’s telling the truth, no-one can believe a single word the Prime Minister says. He preaches to the powerless and sucks up to the powerful; he is a loathsome, hypocritical, sanctimonious bully who lied his way into mass murder. I know many Liberal Democrats had a sneaking (or in some cases blatant) regard for Mr Blair when he was first elected. I started off finding him an untrustworthy Tory snake-oil salesman, and that was the high point of my regard for him. I came up with a Watchdog-style consumer questionnaire in 2001 for people who’d voted him into office: ‘Is This the Labour You Voted For in 1997?’ I didn’t come up with a funny list in 2005. ‘Did you expect Labour to pitch us into an aggressive, illegal war that will make us infamous around the world?’ just didn’t have that comic edge to it. Today’s was the first of his speeches for years that I’ve been able to bring myself to watch, and that only in the spirit of someone standing over the coffin with a mirror over the lips. Just to make sure that that irredeemable shit isn’t about to get up again. Even his own party has been desperate to get rid of him for months now, and in many cases years. Such a shame they didn’t stand up to him when it mattered, and just want to duck the blame now.

Members of opposition parties must, I think, be more selfless than members of the Labour Party. In the 1990s, Labour held their noses and wanted him as Labour Leader because, though they hated him and he despised them, he would win elections for them. Today, though he hates us and we despise him, few members of opposing parties will experience anything other than public-spirited relief at his going, though by cold electoral calculation we should want him as Labour Leader because he would win elections for us. While every day that Mr Blair stays means that the biggest focus of bitter resentment against the Labour Party remains in place and that no-one can properly set a future direction that might just get them out of that mess, all of which is hugely damaging to Labour prospects, his staying in office has been even more damaging to the national interest of the nation he closed his speech in synthetic fervour for, this scoundrel picking jingoism as his last refuge. I believe that the second everyone is certain he’s left Downing Street for the last time, there will be a surge in support for Labour through sheer relief, and the Liberal Democrats will be more squeezed than ever. Despite that, it can’t come a moment too soon. He’s pure poison to British politics, and that simply isn’t good for anyone.

For readers expecting one of my usual jolly Doctor Who references, I’ll leave you with this. Two Doctor Who stories were broadcast on this very date in years gone by. One was The War Games, in which sinister autocrats toyed with countless soldiers’ lives as part of their sincerely held conviction in creating a new order. No relation. I watched the other this morning, noting the uncannily prescient phraseology:
“I shall be the people’s liberator.”
“You came very close to being their destroyer!”
“That will be forgotten in my triumph.”
No such luck, Mr Blair. People will forget your ‘triumphs’, but your chosen role as destroyer will stain our history for centuries.

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Comments:
When before in recent times has a resigning Prime Minister so felt the need to apologise?
 
Though as always he just prated the words but couldn’t bring himself to apologise for anything in particular – it wasn’t to admit any fault, but because he wants selfish absolution. He’ll get no indulgences from me.

Paddy Ashdown has just said on News 24 that Mr Blair’s Premiership was one of missed opportunities as his government was blown from side to side, because though he knew what he was against – socialism – he never had any idea what he was for. I disagreed with a lot of Paddy’s judgements on Mr Blair, but that sounds spot-on.
 
And I just passed Paddy in the street...
 
Bloody brilliant. I actually hate Blair more than Thatcher. Not cosI prefer the Tories but because you expect a bit more from Labour. Or you did anyway.
 
Thank you, Caron! I’d agree with you – though less because I expect more from Labour than because they always act as if they’re more moral but are in fact shits (and in case readers happen across this piece and wonder what drew Caron to it today, it was this article).
 
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