Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Blair's last Queen's Speech - but what legacy has he left?

So, Tony Blair has delivered his final Queen's Speech. Is now the time to assess his legacy? It seems strange that he may well be remembered solely (or at least mainly) for the Iraq War. After all, he obviously had so many New Labour plans for change when he came to power on that real wave of optimism in 1997. Sometimes I feel almost sorry for him that they have been swallowed up by the disaster of Iraq.
When I was at university, we discussed Thatcherism and people had an idea of what that word meant, whether they agreed with it or not. I'm not sure if Blairism is more than just a word. It doesn't seem to have a real ideology behind it, but maybe that's because Blair hasn't managed to do all he wanted - even though he's had a pretty good run (a decade next year - almost as long as Thatcher). Perhaps expectations were set too high in 1997?
Yes, it's true that Blair was responsible for devolution, but that doesn't exactly seem to have worked as planned. His other great promises, on education and the NHS, are yet to be fulfilled. It's astonishing that this government has pumped so much money into different areas, but that the results are still unsatisfying. Today the Queen's speech has talked about crime, immigration and climate change. There's obviously still an awful lot to do, but will Blair be able to leave behind the legacy he wants or will Gordon Brown, and perhaps even David Cameron, transform the political agenda?


Alan Ramsey said...

[first commenter on this blog!]

Thatcher broke the unions, almost finished Northern Ireland terror, helped to terminate the cold war and boosted the UK's position in the EU. She transformed the economy with privatisations, popular capitalism, freedom of capital & entrepreneurship.

Blair's made the Bank of England independent and... oh yes, raised the salaries of teachers and nurses. Not much in 10 years...

Sarah Ebner said...

I think you'll find that it was Brown's decision to make the Bank of England independent.
Whatever you think of either leader, it's certainly easier to define Thatcherism, as you have, than Blairism - my point exactly.