The Sun this morning has some polling from YouGov on attitudes towards Tony Blair three years after his departure. 47% of people think that Blair was a good Prime Minister, 46% that he was a bad one – probably not a bad record. On balance, people tended to think that Blair was likeable (by 57% to 35%), principled (by 43% to 39%) and a good representative for Britain abroad (by 50% to 37%), he fell down on honesty – 44% thought he was dishonest as PM.

Asked what his greatest achievements were as Prime Minister, the minimum wage and bringing peace to Northern Ireland came top by some distance (interestingly, the minimum wage was seen as Blair’s greatest acheivement even by Conservative voters, whereas things like his record on the economy and public services were mainly picked by Labour supporters). His greatest failures were seen as failing to tackle immigration and, unsurprisingly, the invasion of Iraq.

Finally, in the context of the leadership election, we asked whether Labour should distance itself from Blair’s legacy to get back into power, or whether it would be a mistake for them to turn their back on the legacy of a PM who won three elections. It was a pretty even divide, 30% said Labour should distance themselves, 34% it would be a mistake. Amongst Labour supporters, 59% said it would be a mistake for Labour to turn their back on Blair’s legacy.

Meanwhile, there were mixed results on the daily trackers. Government disapproval was the lowest yet for the coalition on minus 4 (38% approve, 42% disapprove). However, voting intention was far more positive for the Conservatives, CON 43%, LAB 37%, LDEM 12%. 6 points is the biggest Tory lead for a fortnight.

Also worth noting is the AV referendum voting intention question from yesterday, which I overlooked at the time. NO is now ahead by 39% to 37%. Still within the margin of error and a huge distance to go, but it suggests the YouGov poll a fortnight ago showing No ahead for the first time was not just a blip.

503 Responses to “Tony Blair’s legacy”

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  1. Interesting thread Anthony.

    ” Amongst Labour supporters, 59% said it would be a mistake for Labour to turn their back on Blair’s legacy.”

    mmmm- suggests that the Labour party supporters who post most frequently here,are in the minority on that.

  2. As the no campaign for AV (which has been up and running for some time) starts to permeate/inflitrate the zeitgeist of the public at large expect AV (no) to continue to grow. I feel a little sorry for those who give the referendum any prospect of success. It is all a rather sorry affair really. Energised ‘no’ campaigns starting at a low base have been remarkably successful. Someone who is mildly supportive of AV ‘might vote’. Someone who is an opponent of it will vote in greater numbers. The blue rinse grannies have this date in their diary (5/05/11) and they aint going down without a fight. It is a total an utter waste of time and tax payers money from here on in.

    The best way to pass the AV bill is to put it in a manifesto (small print if necessary) and just make it legislation. Under the salisbury convention the Lords could not reject it. As it so happens this will never ever come to pass.

    I’ll definitely vote yes for AV but I wont campaign.
    I would have campaigned for STV.

  3. Colin,

    Compare the May ’10 figures for Balir to the Aug ’10 figures. There is quite a bit of flux. Also, consider that some interpret questions on past leaders as a verdict on current leaders. The sort of bring back roger rabbit all is forgiven type answer. I am being objective when I say that I do not give much weight to the authroity of these types of polling questions.

    Let me give you an example: I think he is likeable and fairly principled. But please do not ask me to illuminate what I think those principles are.

  4. Eoin

    I can’t see any 10 May figures on the question I commented on.

    I have read your views & know what they are on Blair’s legacy-both as the past, and as it has relevance to Labour’s future.

    I don’t ask you to illuminate those views at all-there is no need from my perspective.

    But I think this poll is interesting as an indicator of Labour supporters’ views on the matter.

    If I contrast that view with those of the most regular Labour supporters here, I perceive the latter not to be in agreement with the Polled majority-on that question.

    It’s just interesting to me.

    ….but it also supplies an interesting context & perspective for the Labour views expressed in general here-and as a supporter of the Coalition I take a little comfort from that. ;-)

  5. Colin,

    I wouldnt take much comfort from it.

    Ofthe 59% who do not want to turn their back on his legacy, what they could in effect be saying is… we like the minimum wage.. or we hope their is not a war in NI. It is not the same as saying 59% back part privatisation of the royal mail or foundation hospitals or PFI.

    The definition of Blair’s legacys will divide historians for centuries… that 59% of the public dont want to turn their back on it does not say much….

    I would not like to turn my back on Blair’s legacy, or Major’s but it does not mean I support privatisation of rail.

  6. Eoin

    Of course-they could be saying all sorts of things.

    I read the question -this was it :-

    “Tony Blair did a lot right and won three elections – it would be
    a mistake for Labour to turn its back on his legacy”

    A majority of Labour supporters agree.

    That’s it-their opinion.

  7. Eoin

    They could be saying that, or they could be taking a line from the media coverage of the current leadership election, and interpreting it as ‘New Labour, yes or no’.

    We don’t know, which is the problem of losely worded questions.

    What will be interesting is how this opinion breaks down amongst members and members of affiliated societies/unions, and if it has any impact on the leadership vote.

    I suspect it indicates that David M is going to win by a bigger margin than expected by the “main stream media” (hate that phrase, but…). Still I’m frequently wrong about elections.

  8. Colin/Duncan

    Given that question, I would have been one of those 59%. Minium wage, NI, trebling of expenditure, CTC, maternity leave, Devolution, HoL reform, Overseas aid spending. I would not ever want to turn my back on those. Frankly, what those who voted no were thinking is beyond me.

  9. Eoin
    You can add statutory minimum for annual leave to that list.

  10. @ Anthony

    Regarding the AV referendum – if it went through would that mean that polling groups would change their methodology to incorporate 2nd and 3rd choice when asking how people would vote?

  11. @ Colin – “… the Labour party supporters who post most frequently here, are in the minority on that.”

    It did strike me that it might be an interesting excersise to collate the opinions of Labour supporting posters on a number of issues, and indeed the Lib Dem and Tory supporters too. Any PM has after all to take cognisance of the wishes of all of us, even those who don’t vote.

    In all probability your assertion that the majority of us reject Blair’s legacy (as opposed to the volume of posts! lol, and we wouldn’t have it any other way :) ) would not be supported by the evidence on UKPR … possibly it is just that we all interpret that legacy in the way we see fit. There is also the possibility that Labourites are just less inhibited in the criticism of their party.

  12. @ Eoin

    I’ll definitely vote yes for AV but I wont campaign.

    I have felt from the very start that AV would be defeated.

    The nail in its coffin was when the Lab party after the election refused to back it wholeheartedly.

    Such is the level of venom directed against the LD’s by many of the Lab activisits, they will IMO vote against AV just to spite the LD’s and in the hope of wrecking the Coalition, regadless of thier personal feelings about electoral reform.

    I shall both campaign and vote against AV.

    Infact am having dinner with colleagues tomorrow to start our local plan. :D

  13. @ Eoin

    Do you really think that adding the voting change as a small-print addendum to a manifesto, after it is rejected in a referendum, is a smart way to run a democracy?

    And what about the reverse: what if AV was voted in, and then the Conservatives won the next election outright with a manifesto small-print to remove it? You would not be too impressed, I’m willing to bet!

  14. Billy – yes, or something along those lines (in Australia what they seem to do is ask a 1st preference question, then a forced choice between the two big parties)

  15. Richard Manns,

    It is a smart way. Theoretically there is nothing more democratci about a referendum than their is an election based on manifestos :)

    The small print was a joke.

  16. John F,

    It will be a well run campaign (no). The dude in charge of the taxpayers’ alliance is running it.

  17. @ John F

    It was a clever move bundling AV together with the seats changes etc. If they’d kept it as a single issue bill it probably would have attracted more support from Labour et al.

  18. Tony Blair will always be a controversial figure just like Margaret Thatcher.
    However delivering Labour its biggest ever majorities in 1997 and 2001 is something that no one can ever take away from him.
    But he is just a figure from the past now that will regretably damage Labour if he keeps medling in its affair.
    The era of Blair and New Labour is over. It is time to turn the page and write a new chapter of Labour history.

  19. Seeing what happened to the greens in the Australian election disturbs me greatly. They got 11% of the vote in order to get one seat – compare that with here, where they needed just 1% – even allowing for the fact there are more seats to fight over here, it seems AV is even more disproportionate than FPTP. It’s not my idea of PR. Or do we view it as a stepping stone? mmm, not sure.

  20. KeithP,

    Excellent point… The italian smaller parties got round their threshold requirements by joining (temporarily) under the one party. Quite a smart way of ensuring representation… but then that was not AV.

  21. I think the majority of labour posters on here ae in the 59% camp but being misunderstood.
    There is nothing incosistent with saying i don’t want to turn my back on Blairs legacy (add civil partnerships the the above lists) whilst saying I do not want a new leader who uses 1997 as his starting point.
    Got my voting papers today.
    EB, AB then a milliband but which one???
    was titling towards ed but he has started to become an ‘internal’ LP populist lately. Also Geoffrey Robinson transferrring to David from balls challenges me.

  22. @ Eoin

    It will be a well run campaign (no).

    You are not taking into account my involvement. :D :D :D

    We will win any way.

    @ Michael V

    It was a clever move bundling AV together with the seats changes


    From the moment a coalition looked on the cards DC had a plan IMO.

    He knew that he if he could get his hands on the levers of power, reduce the number of seats and change the boundaries he could keep Lab out of power for a generation. He put NC in charge of constitutional reform and by “bigging up” the great constitutional reform bill from the start he gave NC no room for manouver. He gambled on AV failing and so far it seems to be going to plan.

    The more time goes on the more the LD’s look like lambs to the slaughter.

  23. Government disapproval was the lowest yet for the coalition on minus 4

    You meant ‘highest yet’ of course (just showing I read your stuff Anthony).

  24. AV = DOA

  25. Kyle Downing
    “The era of Blair and New Labour is over. It is time to turn the page and write a new chapter of Labour history.”

    Certainly I agree the era of Blair is over. And unlike the Con party which found it impossible to forget or get over Maggie I think the Lab party will quickly ‘forget’ TB.

    However, I don’t think Lab can easily consign New Labour to the recycle bin. It is evident that the polling demographics are continuing to change. I see the emergence of New Lab as an essential evolutionary development to meet the demographic changes. IMO New Lab cannot be discarded if Lab wants to return to office in the not too distant future.

    I also find it mildly amusing that you as a Con party supporter offered such advice.

  26. KeithP

    For the nth time AV is not PR and does not claim to be. It is simply claimed as a fairer FPTP with the last ‘P’ being 50%.

  27. But the problem for the Greens in Australia was preferential voting in the lower house; you have to be ahead of say labour or you lose.

    The Greens actually had an excellent election and will hold the balance of power in the Upper House; but that’s a preferential House!

    Do not confuse the voting systems. Oz lower house mean the party least hated gets in in each seat (at the moment lots of Tories will never give a preference to Greens so Labour / Greens swap preferences BUT Labor is a much larger party so get more first preferences, so Greens in the lower house dont get yet).

    The point is that Green voters were happier to have Labor in than Tories which is why AV matters; Green voters could vote first for their party they love then they had a second vote which helped get the person in they’d like if it wasnt a green.

    This what is wrong with FPTP- you have to vote for someone who may get in even though they are not your first choice or you have to waste a vote by voting for the unelectable and so help someone you hate get in. AV is far better as it means no vote is wasted.

  28. John Fletcher
    “The more time goes on the more the LD’s look like lambs to the slaughter.”


  29. Blair legacy
    New Labour was unenvironmental (GB TB) while Old Labour (Prescott) is (was) It’s why his efforts were stymied by Blair time and time again, the climb down over the fuel levy, work place car park levy, road pricing, etc, being the most cowardly. But there’s lots of Transport Act 2000 and CROW Act left for JP to feel proud of.

    I believe DM may put Lab back on environmental course. I don’t see him as New Labour at all. He’ll have to keep quiet about it of course otherwise he’ll never get elected.

  30. Mike N
    “I don’t think Lab can easily consign New Labour to the recycle bin”

    You have hit the nail right on the head there. That is the sad thing about it. New Labour was a political smokescreen so that Blair could happily sit in Number 10. If they keep insisting it is alive and well, then they will sadly be mistaken.
    They say if you keep telling the same joke again and again and again, then it would not be funny anymore. That is the same with “New” Labour. I personally thing that Ed Milliband would be quite a good leader as he would take Labour back to its roots. I might be a Tory supporter and I happily wear my Blue rosette as a badge of honour, but I will never forget what Clem Attlee did for us.

  31. Howard,

    The debate over whether or not AV is PR is quite silly one. All systems have a degree of proportionality and all systems waste votes even 1 constituency lists waste votes.

    I appreciate the electoral reform society draws a distinction between the plurality systems and other systems but that masks inequalities in those systems also

    100,000 votes 4 seats.

    20,000 (+1) to win a seat.

    Thus 80,004=4seats

    19996 wasted votes.

    40% of the votes (+2) could have gotten you 50% of the seats.
    Thus as we call STV proportional- it is not the all singing all dancing equal system we think it is.

    It is my favourite ststem because it has bigger constituencies and is more pluralistic but it is not perfect.

    On a national list system of 1 constitunecy with 600 MPs, you could have 43332 votes and yet not get a seat. Think about that- Caroline Lucas got less as did George Galloway. ironically even in the system regarded as the pureest you have wasted votes.


    My biggest pet hate of all is that those in favour of PR want a threshold to stop the undesirables getting elected. . The very essence of the deomcratic argument is undermined when you have a threshold.

    Whilst blue under FPTP get 37% of the vote at c55% of the seats may seem bad…. under STV they could get 40% of the vote (+1) and get 50% of the seats..

    Now for the scariest proposition of alll: if people refuse to exercise their preference eg (2, 3, 4,) then their vote drops out of the loop or becomes “non-transferable”. In some Northern irish constituencies non-transferability has been as high as 59%. Under these circumstance the quota drops (hell almost always it does). when it drops you can get 50% of the seats with even less than 40% of the vote (+1).

    conceivably with a non-transferance of a third… you coudl still end up seeing a party collect a majority of the votes under STv with 35% of the vote.

    all things considered I am still an advocate of STV but no system is perfect.

  32. John F

    When i said it will be a well run campaign (no), I meant that the no camapign will be well run. Apoligies for my poor English. :(

  33. Well, firstly I’d have to say Anthony is very brave to have a post on TB at all.

    Secondly Hear Hear! Billy Bob. Those who shout the loudest are not necessarily holders of universal truth.

    Colin – Indeed. The question is the question.

    For me, I’m also astounded. Reading this site, the cif pages etc, one would think TB was the anti-christ. Apparently the ordinary bloke on the street disagrees.

    Having said that, the man talking to Andrew Marr last night was not the fresh eager man of 97. To judge him today would be to ignore the “Journey” he has obviously taken.

  34. @MIKE N
    I think Kyle gave you a very nice reply, but then he is a nice bloke. My reply would be as follows, Tories are not so stupid as to disregard a leader, who is the only man for 40 years who has a prayer of winning elections. If Blair had been hit by a number 12 bus after leaving Granita, do you think Brown would have delivered 3 GEs on the trot? As for the Tory regard for Mrs Thatcher, we have enough sense to love a winner.
    Especially a winner who only fights legal wars.

  35. @ Mike N – “It is evident that polling demographics are continuing to change.”


    Also it’s not so much where people are, as where they perceive themselves to be that matters sometimes.

  36. Howard “I believe DM may put Lab back on environmental course. I don’t see him as New Labour at all. He’ll have to keep quiet about it of course otherwise he’ll never get elected.”

    Well said sir.

  37. Blair’s top ten failures as voted by joe bloggs (howard- note how low down the list the environment is)/

    1. Allowing immigration to rise to unacceptable levels 62
    2. Taking part in the US-led invasion of Iraq 56
    3. Allowing Britain’s foreign policy to be dictated, in effect, by The United States 34
    4. Bringing political life into disrepute as a result of ‘spin’ and Episodes like ‘cash for honours’ 26
    5. Not doing enough to curb public spending during good Economic times 21
    6. Allowing Gordon Brown to succeed him as Prime Minister 21
    7. Not carrying out his promise to be ‘tough on crime and tough On the causes of crime’ 20
    8. Raising taxes but without the country having much to show For it 18
    9. Failing to take Britain into the euro (the single European Currency) 5
    10. Failing to tackle climate change with sufficient vigour 4

  38. I should have really got Les Dennis to read that out.

  39. So according to Joe Bloggs, the only actual failures were immigration and Iraq. The other questions are all remarkably low.

  40. For instance, on no. 8, only 18% thought he had raised taxes without having much to show for it.

    That means that a good proportion of Tories think there was something to show for it.

  41. @Michael V

    You said “…It was a clever move bundling AV together with the seats changes etc. If they’d kept it as a single issue bill it probably would have attracted more support from Labour et al…”

    Cognitive dissonance, Michael (sorry, Sue). The sole reason why so many Laborites oppose AV (despite manifesto commitments, pre-election support, support from Gordon Brown and the Miliband bros, its own leadership election, etc, etc, the list goes on) is to hurt the LIBs: everything else are just rationalisations designed to preserve the self-image as a good person despite doing bad things. I have used the acronym CBTMYBOIFYU to describe this and characterised it yesterday as “people acting sadistically to achieve an undemocratic and counter-productive outcome”. If the “No” campaign is successful, then I think it’s beholden on me to point this out.

    Regards, Martyn

  42. @Eoin
    On the environment Joe Bloggs might think again if the result of environmental policy/investment was anything like what happens in Germany for common sense reasons: An uppgraded public transport system fit for the 21st Century; existing housing stock brought to current energy efficient standards.

  43. Martyn,

    for what it is worth, even with red support AV is sinking like a lead weight. lobbyists/campaigners and money make referenda… momentum is everything.

    given the financial resources and media backing the ‘no’ campaign has, I think you should be careful not to pin all th ebalme on reds.

    besides, A Johnson, A Adonis and others (Hain et al) will campaign for a yes vote be sure of it.

    but even under the most amicable circumstances you would surely accept that Holyrood is a bigger priority?

  44. BillyB,

    i am the worse person to ask on environment policy… Blair seemed greener that me. i am familiar with the stats (our record is not very good).

    Environmentalists are a very intelligent bunch. if the want a green policy they know the parties to vote for. You dont hear roland complaining that reds didnt look after the fox hunting lobby- hell he knew they wouldnt. when i think back to that 1997 campaign, I do not rememebr Blair making spectacular pledges on the environment.

  45. Oooooh, for those interested, Andy Burnham just streaked into the lead on my little leadership test.

    (Sorry to those that aren’t :) )

  46. @Eoin

    “You lot won the election”

    I’m sorry Eoin but that lot didn’t win the election. No one won it. As I read somewhere, why do 2 parties who lost an election, one of them very badly, think that joining together makes them the winners? Talk about rewriting history!

    @Ann (In Wales). Welcome. :-}

  47. @ Anthony

    Thanks for that. Do you know if anyone has done a retrospective on the 2010 election – like what the result might have been if it had been under AV? (I remember something like that was done for the 2005 and 2001 elections)

  48. @ Ann (In Wales)

    I’ll try again. Welcome. Good to see anther gal! :-)

  49. Valerie,

    To quibble over the terms of their win when the outcome is enshrined in law is futile (as Al Gore). did you know Nixon won more votes than JFK? Hilary won more than Obama? I think in 1974 perhaps blues got more votes than red.

    They way I figure it is this… David cameron’s crew got 1.2million votes more than Blair did in 2005. they got 2.1million more than us Reds.

    You call that what you want- i’m scoring it a blue win.

  50. @EOIN
    You are very receptive to new ideas I think. I am not, except within the narrow confines of my training and expertise. However, there is an area which you should not get confused about. Very high academic achievement does not in anyway guarantee practical ability. Now all the Labourites will say, “this is Major Bufton -Tufton making his excuses for being thick”. It is not, it is an observation from a full life. You, Eoin deserve to hear it.

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