May 10, 2007

Ten years and ten days later…

Blair waves goodbyeIt’s time for Tony Blair to leave the stage. It’s been ten very interesting years, starting so well, but ending so badly.

This week saw a ray of light at the end of five years of difficulties. Northern Ireland will hopefully be Tony Blair’s legacy in office – he’ll probably try and achieve a similar feat in the Middle East once he leaves it.

His other legacy is to leave his successor a clone in opposition. David Cameron is Tony Blair in blue clothes, and this could be his Achilles Heel in the 2009/10 election.

For his party, Blair leaves behind a group of people who will find transition difficult. Despite the lack of real opposition, Gordon Brown will find he needs to get his party behind him while reaching out again to the centre ground that elected him and his friends in 1997. This week it was suggested David Miliband is holding fire until after the next general election. Others may be less patient.

Blair’s reputation was irretrievably damaged by Iraq and its aftermath. It’s a war he probably still doesn’t regret, but might come to in the years to come.

The next few years will be a time of great reflection for Mr Blair, as well as for the party he leaves behind.

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