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. Pete B

    “he always struck me as a self-important arrogant Welsh windbag”

    Someone mentioned “xenophobic” in response to your post.

    What leapt out at me was your inclusion of the term “Welsh”. It’s like the one eyed Scottish idiot” comment.

    Both you and Clarkson include the part of the UK that Kinnock/Brown come from as one of list of negatives that you use. I wonder why. Both Kinnock and Brown proclaim themselves as British in terms of political identity.

    If you are a Brit, your language is odd. If you are an English Nationalist, then perhaps one day you will grow up, and stop using other people’s nationality as a term of abuse.

  2. @ Eoin

    This is a short reply – honest :)

    “I dont know what the right think of Ed M, they never seem to address him substantively. Maybe they feel there is not much substantively to address.”

    I’m presuming that you mean the right of the Labour party, not the right in general. If that’s the case then I think it goes back to the idea that Ed Miliband is old/traditional Labour. This leadership election, and the build-up to it, is something of a period of self-examination for the party and I imagine that the right are perhaps wary of attacking Ed too aggressively for fear of being accused of attacking Labour’s traditional values.

  3. @ Billy

    You could stop apologising for lengthy posts. We don’t mind, if you have something to say use as many words as you need. 8-)

  4. Well I can give a brief view on EM from the “right” of the party.

    My view is that he will drag the party back to the orientation the 80’s, that is not to say he will resurrect the “longest suicide note in history” 1983 manifesto – but the noises that are coming out of him suggest that he will move leftward. Rightly or wrongly much of middle England may feel Labour has already started doing that, so to go further could lead to electoral disaster in future. I favour a one-nation, centrist approach.

    I’ll single out one idea that I detest, the high pay commission. To me the idea of the state setting a “maximum wage” (or wage-ratio) is an awful idea. I appreciate that it may not come to this, but that’s the worst case scenario. The government can control public sector wages, and if it wishes to do so it can exert it’s influence on banks that are part state owned.

    I appreciate that the thrust of this kind of idea is to attack the income gap, but personally I don’t think bashing the rich down is a sensible way of doing this.

    If he gets in, I’ll try and give him a chance, but if we have a leader who’s philosophy is to indulge the left, as happened so often in the past, I’ll not be paying a monthly subscription to support him.

    Rant over… If I had the time I’d research a more comprehensive case against him, but unfortunately I have a dissertation due in next Friday and a lot left to do so I’ll wish you all a good week and retreat for the next few days!

  5. @Michael V – You get on and meet your deadline… missing you already (as Roland might say ;) ).

  6. Billy,

    Amber is correct: post a thousand words, for they are of high calibre. You make good points, which I will reply to in the morning. For now, inebriation (which occurs once in a blue moon) prevents me from doing so. :) Nite.

  7. Michael,

    I agree on your point about bashing the rich. It is without logic or decency in my view.

  8. Anthony,

    The PA are reporting a Holyrood poll. Labour 39% -SNP 29% for today’s Scottish Mail. I cant find it in the mail, however. Do you have the details of it?

  9. Excellent article all. It highlights the three attempted positions on ‘cuts’ in the run up to May ’10. (Nick Robinson).

    h ttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1309165/NICK-ROBINSON-Nice-cuts-Nasty-cuts-One-thing-sure-way-.html

  10. @ Eoin
    Excellent article all. It highlights the three attempted positions on ‘
    __________________________________________

    Not surprisingly cuts the main conclusion seems to be that most people agree that the defecit needs to be cut but when it comes to specifics they are NIMBYs.

    I am sure that many people who ere dependent on the public sector for jobs or benefits are going to have a tough time.

    However much of the private sector has already been through this process so their room for complaint is limited.

    Though the economic indicators are mixed a double dip now seems unlikely and markets, economic activity and confidence are growing (all be it in a saw tooth fashion).

    My conclusion is that the UK economy will survive the cuts and (hopefully from my point of view) be looking much better it time for the next GE in 4 or so years.

    Politically the Cons will survive and be thanked by much of the electorate for their efforts in restoring economic discipline. Lab will retain its core vote. Those who suffer from the cuts, and who had not previoulsy voted Lab will foist the blame on the LD’s. This will be re-enforced by Lab’s habit of heaping opprobrium on the Ld’s at every opportunity because of Lab’s hatred of them joining the coalition.

  11. @john Fletcher – “Though the economic indicators are mixed a double dip now seems unlikely and markets, economic activity and confidence are growing”

    Slightly optimistic reading of the UK position. While technically economic activity is growing, as opposed to contracting, the forward indicators are showing a rapidly slowing rate of growth. If this carries on for the next month or two we are firmly in double dip. With house prices negative and consumer confidence continues to slip, you mind look back and think your were a little too optimistic.

    I think the fairest assessment is much more that it’s touch and go.

  12. John Fletcher – I disagree with almost all of that post – and not just as a Red, but as a finance gal.

    I won’t re-hash the arguments – Blues buy the line you just posted totally, Red’s the opposite, but the one point I will make, is if cuts really do get anywhere close to 25%, you’ve all really got to get over the blurry concept that it’ll only be,

    “people who are dependent on the public sector for jobs or benefits are going to have a tough time.”

    YOU will be affected by cuts in police if you experience crime
    YOU will be affected by filthy, vandalised parks (my council has already cut this budget
    YOU will be affected if you suddenly need the NHS
    etc etc etc

    I am permanently surprised by the lobotomy approach to the scale of these cuts.

  13. Ha! Alec, we’re like the economic rapid response team!!

  14. Michael Winner (!) on the radio defending Tony Blair on the radio and says the majority supported invading Iraq. I remember (voodoo) phone-in polls at the time, believing them to be rigged because they showed approval – but:

    before we leave Tony Blair’s legacy, was there reputable polling carried out on this question in 2002-2003?

  15. Billy Bob

    Selection of YouGov polls from 2003 here:

    ht tp://today.yougov.co.uk/archives/politics/iraq

  16. BillyB,

    YG only have post-Iraq polls (correct me someone please if I am wrong).

    Here is a Jan 2003 ICM poll for you and some discussion of it…

    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/jan/21/uk.iraq2

  17. Oldnat
    “Both you and Clarkson include the part of the UK that Kinnock/Brown come from as one of list of negatives that you use.”

    I’d be just as happy to use parts of England – e.g. ‘Eric Pickles is a fat Northerner’. I realise it doesn’t add much to the debate it’s just that one of our fellow posters seemed mystified as to why Kinnock was unloved, and I tried to explain.

  18. John Fletcher
    You may be right about the economy buton cuts there will be huge local impact beyond the obvious. Conservative councillors will get a pounding from their own voters. The Sandwell defection may be a straw in the wind. I can’t foretell the defections but getting candidates will be difficult, losses huge and at election time councillors are the back-bone now of all parties.
    Eoin
    If true the main significance in the poll in the Sunday Mail will be the squeeze on the tories and Lib Dems. I’ll go and buy one
    Billy Bob
    I was one of those supporting the demonstrations but whatever was the case at the time I suspect Winner speaks for a majority today. Mr Haines picked up on the demonstrators in Dublin but that was predictable. I was listening in the car the previous evening to RTE1 and the atmosphere was incredible. Almost all current affairs was about TB and was summed up by a description by the news-reader of the Late Show interviewer as “walking around all day with the smile of the cat that got the cream because TB was going to speak to him.
    ASDA is only marginally discounting the Journey, a sign of the huge demand

  19. Gee, I would need to be scraping the very bottom of the worst barrel to want Michael Winner to defend me.

  20. Barney,

    Thanks I look forward to finding that out….

  21. A very interesting article on Seat Reduction/AV. (LDs ‘thought’ to lose half their seats).

    h ttp://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tory-and-labour-rebels-unite-against-av-vote-2070836.html

  22. Thanks Roger Mexico and Eoin,

    Yougov have quite a bit pre-war, searching out almost the justification that would be acceptable… in other words: a majority of the members of the security council of the UN (with some countries opposing).

    As always it depends on the question, (Clare Short has called for a fresh mandate from the UN: Yes we support that). One point was that a minority saw him as a threat, but a majority felt he had to be dealt with… Inspectors should be given more time, but there should be an ultimatum.

    I am still of the opinion, that apart from a few brave souls, post 2001 (9/11) the atmosphere in all branches of government/services/military/intelligence etc was so electric that the thought of going against the US was totally unthinkable.

  23. AB definitely very handsome indeed and I love his answers.

    DM biggest cheer so far. Question “Brown or Blair?” DM answer “David Miliband, time to move on”

  24. Oooooh, AB and EM seem to be getting cosy.

  25. Oh dear, I’m in moderation again. Does b*ttom (ie opposite to top) trigger this?

    Or was just using the words Michael and Winner together?

  26. BillyB,

    A lot of it depends on your view of democracy. The majority of the UK would have voted against the war.
    ICM’s highest in favour was 42% but that dropped as low as 30% as March drew nearer.

    If you are a ‘Burkean’ is the sense that it is the PM’s job to take tough decisions even if they are unpopular then Blair was in a position of auhtority to do what he done.

    The ‘Doctors Mandate’ in my view does not apply since Iraq is hardly an unforseen event. proportionality is also a UN measurement under which ‘shock and awe’ undoubtedly contravened. Regime change and unilateralism are also two further crimes. Lastly, Iraq did not receive ‘equal treatment’ under the law since other countires have contravened UN resolutions (israel & N. Korea being two examples).

    Thus, for five main reasons it was illegal.

  27. With respect to the views on the double dip question, there are as many ‘experts’ on both sides of the debate and those same experts missed the largest crisis/recession in modern history so the fact is no-one really knows.
    The best views I have read are from those who advocate that a quarter of further recession, (which counts as a double dip, rather than the two required for original recession it seems) is only of relevance if it points to a longer term problem for growth. The economy over the next two to 3 years is more important to them than a brief quarter of negative growth (although I realise that any double dip will be much more symbolic to the electorate, bit I’m sure GO would take a situation where ecenomic recovery was completed in a term despite a blip)

  28. @ sue Marsh

    I am permanently surprised by the lobotomy approach to the scale of these cuts

    __________________________________________

    cut today or Aputate tomorrow. Its seems that most of the British people are for the cuts today.

    @ alec

    I think the fairest assessment is much more that it’s touch and go.

    _________________________________________

    Perhaps. A lot depends on the US are Eurozone. Still the die are cast and we shall have to see where they fall.

    @ B Crockett

    , losses huge and at election time councillors are the back-bone now of all parties
    _________________________________________

    I agree the Cons will loose councillors and so will the LD’s. however that is almost always true of all serving governments. Grin and bear it :D

  29. John fletcher – Lets stop the phoney war

    “cut today or Aputate tomorrow. Its seems that most of the British people are for the cuts today.”

    No-one opposes cuts today, just cuts of 25%.

    Too much, too far, too deep.

  30. @Eoin

    There are cogent arguments in international law, and many were making them, but states have their reasons… and what did we have? Elizabeth Wilmshurst, a young slip of a lass at G*HQ, and one young military graduate in the US who wrote a letter.

    It was a collective failure, and shouting “murd*rer” at TB does not address that.

  31. @ sue M

    Lets stop the phoney war
    ________________________________________

    No phoney war as far as I am concerned. It goes to the very core of my political belief and to the very heart of the battle.

    Small State Good.

    Big State Bad.

    And that I am better and wiser at spending and investing my money that any government regadless of its colour.

    I would like to see cuts 40% over 10 years across the board apart from Defence.

  32. BillyB,

    Neither does trying to pin it all on GB. You dont ever hear a peep out of me on Iraq unless people try to exonerate TB from it. They are both as bad as each other…. I have made polling arguments to show it was unwanted (81% thought a new resolution was required). I have made legal arguments to add to it. If I may humbly say so, all you have put forward is a soft forgiving spot for TB, which while comendable in its sentiment, does a diservice to the victims.

  33. @ Amber and Eoin

    I’ll try not to in future – though low self-esteeem and a general dislike of really long posts might prevent me :) (And thank you for the encouragement, I appreciate it)

  34. Billy,

    No you mustn’t think like that. Your articulation puts me to shame :) Its alright, hoever, as Amber keeps me right :)

  35. @Eoin – “…a diservice to the victims.”

    I reject that assertion.

    If people accept simplistic narratives about the genesis of catastophic events in history, then it becomes more likely that mistakes will be repeated.

  36. @Eoin – “…all you have put forward is a soft forgiving spot for TB”

    Again, your assertion, which I reject.

    Dressing an insult in humilty makes it no less offensive.

  37. Eoin

    Some time ago you commented on DM not being popular in Scotland. You also gave us a critique of TB.

    DM is, rightly or wrongly, perceived as “heir to Blair”

    What’s difficult to understand about the likely connection that Scots have the same view of TB as you have, and view DM as do the majority here?.

  38. Eoin,

    Without wishing to start something big and bad re: Iraq, would you mind answering the following questions? I am not being disrespectful, I am interested in your genuine views.

    1. Do you feel Saddam was a genuine threat to Middle East and the rest of the world?
    2. If he was a threat, what kind of threat did he represent?
    3. Did he not commit serious War Crimes to the Marsh Arabs and Kurds?
    4. What else could of been done short of invasion, given that that for many years external international pressure just seemed to make his position in Iraq stronger?

    I ask these because I have often felt that most people I have asked who opposed the conflict had no answers to these questions that I thought were plausible.

  39. correction:

    3. Did he not commit crimes against humanity against the Marsh Arabs and Kurds?

  40. John Fletcher

    I am overweight. I need to lose about 8kg.

    If I eat less, I can do that over a few weeks.

    If I have to lose 8kg this afternoon, that can be done.

    I could cut off a leg.

  41. @ John Fletcher

    “I would like to see cuts 40% over 10 years across the board apart from Defence.”

    If you do that in the current UK society, it almost certainly means dictatorship.

    So, I think your real question is (terribly sorry – of course, you may just reject it): a small state with the condition that we live in a society that is worth living in.

    So then the small state does not have the funny attributes of 20-25-40% cuts, but the principle towards which one can work.

    My problem with the government’s ideological drive of cuts is that they forget the necessary condition: the society in which it is worth living in and they are not even bothered with showing a logical path in which their cuts deliver it.

  42. @ Eoin and Garry K.

    I’m afraid this whole thing is far too simplistic.

    What brings about the waron the Kurds, the Marsh Arabs and Iran…? The sudden change in the Ba’ath Party which led to the execution and persecution of the communist members of that party.

    If you condemn the horrors of Hussein’s regime – the roots are there. Of course, the Iraq war has never had any intention of addressing this root.

    Hence the war was meaningful only from a completely different aspect which cannot be declared (Iraq is strategically needed against Iran, but more importantly against China – how little is said on this…). But then the moral arguments (Hussein being a bad dictator and wars are bad) on both sides: the government and the protesters are quite irrelevant.

    We have the hindsight now: the one against Iran did not work, just the opposite. Against China: well, they became more busy in Africa and Latin-America…

  43. BillyB,

    An insult? Really…. I do not see the insult.

    GaryK,

    I am very happy to asnwer your questions. But do you really want to hear the answer? A “threat to the world” Is a fascinating concept for a country, which used playstations to power their radar system. But if you are sure you want an answer let me know and I will pen one for you.

    They say 700,000 Iraqis have died thus far. 3 million have been displaced. There were 19 bombs in Iraq (reported in the Western media alone) last week.

    Balir currently makes substantial monies advising two separate oil interests.

    I have given, thus far, a mere tip of the icebeerg in relation to my views on Sadam/Iraq/TB.

    As far as consociational democracy goes, I feel to see the progress. But as I say if you feel this is important to blair’s legacy. Post agin and I’ll give you my tuppence worth.

    And be assured I wont dress them up as insults. It is not in my nature.

  44. @Eoin – “…all you have put forward… does a diservice to the victims.”

    That over-steps the mark.

  45. BillyB,

    It does not. I meant it as a complimnet and i was being sincere.

    TB made the final call on the UK’s behalf. The buck stopped with him. This was the same for Chirac and Putin.

    You see this is not about GCHQ.

    Blair still thinks it was the right thing to do. Had 45mins not existed he would still have gone. Without a resoltuion or the coalition of the willing he was backing Bush anyway. He had no evidence of WMD. In his Fern Brittan interview he implicitly accepts that regime change in itself was/is justification.

    And that is quite simplt that. No remorse, no sorry, no regret. He would in his own words- do it all again.

    And what of Iran, Syria etc.

    Tony Blair was culpable and it does do a disserivce to the victims of his and GWB’s invasion to attempt to exonerate him. 700,000 lives impel us all to be truthful about the UK’s role. With Blair as PM the nuch stops with him.

    Had he been of a different mind the UK would not have gone along with the US- and it is quite likely the US would not have gone alone.

  46. Eoin – “Had he been of a different mind the UK would not have gone along with the US- and it is quite likely the US would not have gone alone.”

    This looks like the ‘great (wicked) man’ theory of history. Without Blair none of it would have happened.

    Cheney et al were determined and happy to go alone, possibly with more catastrophic results.

    The events of 2003 were part of a much larger and long-term geo-political situation.

    I do not exonerate Blair. To point at one man, or two men, and say that they caused a cataclysm that has engulfed millions (Parliament approved the action and had IDS been in No 10 it would have been the same); the danger in this simplistic approach of focusing everything on Blair is that every single other actor is thereby absolved, and nothing more need be learned.

    To characterise an attempt at more wide-ranging analysis as “a disservice to the victims”, if not meant as an insult, appears to be a tactic to close down discussion.

  47. BillyB,

    I have now twice reassured you it was not an insult. I will do so a third time, if for no other reason, than that is how I am.

    1. the polls all show that a war was not wanted by the UK public. ICM show it was at 30% support by march and 81% wanted a second resolution.
    2. Blair’s Fern Brittan. Chilcot, and Biography all show he thinks he done the right thing. Eg. no reget etc.
    3. With his machinations vis a vis Iran, there is no sign he has learned his lesson.
    4. France, Belguim, China and Russia were quite able to say no- so it is not like he had no option
    5. Chilcot will find, but most have accepted that no planning was put into the rebuilding effort post invasion.
    6. Abu Garaib, Fallujah, Renditions, and countless other stories for example waterboarding and out souricing security show that ‘we’ were not above board in how we handled the so-called bad guys.
    7. Bliar has two oil contracts that grew out of the Iraq war.
    8. Sadam Hussian posed a threat to some provinces idigenous habitants in the immediate region but he did not pose a risk to glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester etc…
    9. 1441 already imposed sever restrictions on Iraq, it was clearly debilitated and hamstrumg from posing a major threat.
    10. There has been no evidence linking Sadam to the post 9/11 plotting.
    11. The 700,000+ deaths, and continuing bombings and violence in Iraq make it a worse place than it was under Sadam.
    12. Blair’s presdiential style of PM is beyond the remit of his office. It is he who has been the least collegiate of our PMs.
    13. The idea that somehow Blair was a good cop sent in to curb the excesses of Cheney/Rumsfield or other neocons is ludricous. If that is the case why is Blair much more enthusiastic about futher action of NW Pakistan, Iran etc.
    14. Why Iraq? Why not Darfur, Zimbabwae, N Korea? The answer is the Bush junior was taking over where Daddy left off.
    15. Blair by instinct & ego is messianic and Evangelist. He truly beleives in the power of ‘agent’.
    16. Judge the man by his own words- it is in those and not mine that his culpability is most evident. Claire Short, Robin Cook, Blix, Annan and others need not be taken at face value for blair confrims himself voluntarily, there worse accusations.
    17 Blair apoligists are naive if they wish to conflate this to a 45 minute claim. There are bigger issues of proportionailty, ethics in arms trading, Geneva convention at stake.
    18. On the morning of the taking of Um Qsar- the first day of the ground conflict.. Iraqi soldiers surrendered to Uk forces. they were photographed and paraded on national television. Secial Forces had been working in West Iraq for weeks. Thus the UK never intended on compling with international law from the outset.

    I have never doubted that Blair believed WMDs were there. I have never doubted he thought he was doing the right thing. But I think at the very least his errors should deter future action. i see no reason to doubt that far from that, they have actually strengthened his resolve to lobby for further action against ‘radical muslims’. What about radical christians, we seem to have our fair share of those- not least the man himself.

    Tariq Ali is a friend of the families. He wrote a fantastic book dating from the crusades and pope innocents shenanaghans. I respectfully reccomend you read it.

    i had no intention of shutting down debate. I was actually trying to empathise with your point of view. But I already realsie your are not going to accept that explanation, not least because you have rejected twice already.

  48. BillyB,

    Par example,

    h ttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11192265

  49. Apologies Eoin for puting you to the trouble of such a lengthy post, none of which I was unaware of, and like you could add many more items.

    Blair guilty of a Battle of Tours mentality. He is not the only one.

    We disagree on matters of emphasis:
    “all you have put forward is a soft forgiving spot for TB, which while comendable in its sentiment, does a diservice to the victims” is a compliment.

    Fair enough.

  50. BillyB,

    I find you one of the most courteous posters on UKPR. I would never intentionally insult you and you have my word on that. What is more your posts contain a wisdom that make them a most worthwhile read. i would never find cause to shut down debate with you. If my earlier phrasology was clumsy then I am sorry. You have not done a diservice in any way to any of the end. But please forgive me for retaining the view that I think TB has. I was brought up to beleive that use of the S word makes you a strong person. That he refused to say it to the armed forces relatives at Chilcot, sent a chill down my spine I will never forget.

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