Tony Blair – limbo champion?

Sitting, as most of us are, amongst a set of circumstances that one might rightly describe as ‘pretty fucked up’ it’s tempting to wonder how things have got to this stage.

Here we are suffering one of the most serious economic declines ever, witnessing child abuse of an unimaginable nature, watching all manner of people bomb, shoot, kill and maim each other from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and, for many of us, seeing a steady erosion of personal liberty in the name of immigration control and terrorist alerts.

I’m not going to begin to attempt any sort of all-encompassing explanation as to how we’ve got where we are today, but I do have a largely unanswered question that’s been troubling me for a while now that could shed some light on one of the chief problems facing us.

Did Tony Blair see economic decline coming before he left office and to what extent has he avoided any blame for it?

As far as I can ascertain, very few members of the UK’s or the world’s press or media have addressed this question.

So, now it’s my turn…

Putting aside the bitching, the agreements, the disagreements, the broken promises and the in camera meetings that Blair and his successor Brown indulged in, it became pretty clear that the plum job of PM that Brown coveted so fervently was, in fact, a poisoned apple and only a brief  ‘honeymoon’ period ensued before Brown found this out.

For most of Blair’s premiership the economic situation seemed to be very rosy.

Inflation was low, employment was relatively high and many ordinary people felt secure and reasonably prosperous.

That perception was at odds with the reality of the divide between rich and poor ever widening and what we now know to be a festering bubble of over-reliance on credit waiting to burst, but that’s sort of my point.

Many of us thought things were fine and no-one in government bothered to tell us that maybe it wasn’t after all.

Now, Brown was in charge of the economy as Chancellor from the landslide victory of Labour in 1997 to when he took over from Blair as PM so it’s tempting to blame him. I think we should. Whether he knew how serious things were becoming in the domestic and global economies over that 10 year period or whether he didn’t doesn’t really matter.

If he knew, then why didn’t he do something about it?

If he didn’t know, then why didn’t he know?

There’s a clear choice here between negligence and ignorance – neither of which are qualities you’d want in a junior accounts clerk, let alone the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

But, and here’s the crucial question, where was Blair whilst this was going on?

Did he simply let Gordon ‘get on with it’ or did he know from meetings with his Chancellor that there was trouble brewing?

Again, the choice is clear – ignorance or negligence – neither of which are qualities you’d want in a boy scout leader, let alone the Prime Minister.

So, to sum up the answer to the first part of my initial question – it doesn’t really matter whether or not he saw economic decline coming.

Either way he fucked up big time.

On to part two – to what extent has he avoided blame for catastrophic ignorance or negligence?

Well, it has to be said that Teflon Tony’s done a pretty thorough job of leaving No. 10 and finding suitable employment – he’s the UN’s Middle East envoy, he’s received a Yale University fellowship, consultancy jobs in two banks and is a potential candidate for the EC Presidency.

He’s believed to be earning about £7 million a year.

In an astonishing twist of irony, last week US President Bush awarded Blair with a Presidential medal for, amongst other things, his role in the War on Terror and, in the very same week, UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband had an article published in the Guardian saying that the War on Terror was a mistake.

If that isn’t a fucked-up state of affairs, I don’t know what is.

It’s also an indirect criticism by Miliband of his old boss who supported Bush through all the WMD, 45 minute warning, and ‘Help, I’m living next door to a Muslim, get him out of here’ bollocks.

(I’m not even going to start tearing into the duplicity of Miliband who supported Blair’s decisions regarding the whole terrorist/Iraqi invasion issue and then suddenly had his recent ‘Damascus’ moment…)

Apart from this, however, where are the searching questions about Blair’s part in the downfall of the UK’s economy?

I don’t hear them coming from the very people who should be asking them – our journalists in the press and the media.

No, Tony’s got off scot-free with his future well sorted and his reputation, whilst not regarded with fondness by many, at least more or less intact.

There are many people in the UK today who won’t shed a single tear when Margaret Thatcher pops her clogs – she was responsible for the decline of our manufacturing sector which we’d die to have right now and she did her utmost to destroy our perception of society that gave it a certain cohesion that is lacking today.

Indeed there are many who’d queue to piss on her grave.

For what it’s worth I don’t think that Tony’s quite achieved that status yet.

However, I can only fervently hope that history will not be kind to him after he surfed into government like a golden boy on the waves of our hopes and dreams – after years of Tory malpractice – reneged on almost every Socialist principle people voted him in on and then buggered off after making a complete fuck-up of our economy whether through ignorance or negligence.

And as for Blair and the limbo, our Tony can get down so low that he can duck under anything.

Only time will tell whether he eventually goes down too low and ends up disappearing up his own arse.

I defy the guy to come up smelling of roses then…

Late addition…

I won’t say I’ve researched this very deeply but it seems clear after some cursory Googling that it was pretty clear from the way the US Federal Reserve started to slash its interest rates from early 2007 that all the signs of a US and hence an ensuing UK recession were all there well before Blair announced his forthcoming resignation.

Lest this be seen as letting Brown off the hook, George Soros – who’s been known to be right on many occasions – recommended that the Bank of England cut interest rates as early as January 2008.

I think it’s now pretty certain that we had over 18 months to get ready for the financial shitstorm that erupted in September 2008 but we appear to have done nothing about it. OK, maybe we couldn’t have avoided it altogether but maybe we could have been better situated to ride it out better than we are doing at present.

Tony…Gordon…you really fucked things up.

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