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June 04, 2007

Britain voted World's Favourite Nation

Writing about 'This is the greatest nation on earth' from Chris Doidge's Blog

Tony Blair’s claim that Britain is the greatest nation on earth during his resignation speech jarred with a lot of people. But maybe he was on to something.

In some international poll that came out last week, we won. Seriously!

May 13, 2007

The Blair Bitch Project

Blair's Premiership
2 out of 5 stars

In news about as shocking as a typical My Family punchline, Tony Blair resigned on Thursday, opening the floodgates for the media to pore over his ten years of office and deliver versions of his legacy in handy souvenir pullouts. One wonders what the newspapers have up their sleeves for when he actually goes on June 27th. For what it’s worth, here’s my purely subjective take on his premiership.

Say what you like about Blair, he’s a fantastic politician. He made Labour electable again, but was it worth it? If I take my awkward question to mean was he good for the Labour Party, then probably not. For all the things he’s done to disillusion me, I have a grudging respect for him – sure he’s a shit, but he’s a charismatic shit.

It’s difficult to doubt his good intentions, but even his successes may not be so unequivocal.
- The minimum wage and low unemployment. The least he could do; I reckon more of the workforce is in the informal sector, employed by agencies, with low job security and no prospects, than when he came to power.
- Northern Ireland. There’s finally a power-sharing executive that might just work, but how big was Tony’s role in it since Good Friday?
- Solid economic growth and low inflation. Thanks to the independent Bank of England.
- Action on climate change. To me, this has only taken off since An Inconvenient Truth came out.
- Debt relief and development. What’s actually happened since Gleneagles?

To be fair, crime rates and NHS waiting lists have fallen, though you wouldn’t know it from press coverage.

Anything positive is outweighed by:
- Privatising anything with a pulse with a more-Thatcherite-than-Thatcher zealotry.
- Privatisation by the back door in the form of PFI, which, last time I checked, is still pretty discredited (The Guardian).
- Contracting out public service management to consultants who fuck things up so they can get paid again to sort their own mess out.
- Tuition fees.
- Top-up fees, though they are more redistributive than the Tories’ HE policies.
- Oh, and Iraq: selling out the country’s foreign policy and diplomatic power, starting an unwinnable war on false pretences, and eroding any moral high ground over Islamic extremists by undermining the rule of law and civil liberties.

Two out of five is generous.

The other day I realised that I agree with very little Labour have legislated on in the past few years. So I’m looking forward to Gordon Brown’s inevitable premiership and the new direction he’ll take the party. Apart from expecting “more of the same” I don’t understand the unremitting flak he’s been coming under for the past year. For God’s sake, Gordon’s hero is Bobby Kennedy – the greatest President America never had! They’re all just ants at a picnic.

That said, unlike the jubilant but naive 13-year-old on the morning of May 2 1997, I’m bracing myself for disappointment.

November 11, 2005

Blair's Defeat

Tony Blair surprised us all by getting beaten in the House of Commons, for the first time. I mean, looking at the amount of stick he's got since Iraq and earlier, to a casual observer it seems a miracle that he's lasted this long.

Part of me thinks it's a good thing that the plans to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days got reduced to 28, and part of me thinks, "hey, as long as the police know what they're doing, they should be allowed to take a potentially dangerous person off the streets while they gather evidence against him/her, for three months if necessary".

But you'll always have the scenario that could occur wherein a young Muslim who has radical leanings but is as yet innocent of any wrongdoing gets locked up for three months under Charles Clarke's proposals. When he's let out of prison, is he more or less likely to hold a violent grudge against our society? Unless his experience of prison is a happy one, reminding him of what life might be like under the Caliphate, which I very much doubt given the sodomy, I'd have to guess the former: another recruit to the Islamofascists. Of course, this begs the question: would the reduction to 28 days mitigate any adverse effect detention would have on an innocent's beliefs?

What really pissed me off this week was Charles Clarke's "our backbench MPs just voted that way to give Blair a bloody nose – that's all it is, it's a fucking disgrace" or words to that effect. Excuse me? Your proposals were some of the most controversial legislation I've come across! It was tantamount to abolishing habeas corpus, thus undermining the very foundations of our liberal state! Whatever happened to the "we cannot let these terrorists change how we live our lives, cos then they'll win" declarations in July? Somehow, Charles, I don't think it was personal beefs with the Prime Minister that were driving the rebel MPs' actions.

I know the government have to make excuses like this whenever things don't go their way, but they often just come across as morons. See also "the 7/7 bombings had nothing whatsoever to do with us invading Iraq".

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