That Mr Blair doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care about what people think about both him and his time in charge of the Kingdom is unquestionable. He will be judged by history, so he tells us. Which is all well and good, of course: caring about othersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ opinions is a foolish game indeed. But waiting for history is a boring one. And we need a way to pass the time.
ButÃ‚Â passing judgement on what BlairÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s achieved doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take very long, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s almost invariably depressing. The war mightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve made good telly for a week or two, but it soon got boring, and was quickly overshadowed by the ongoing battle within the government for the title of Ã¢â‚¬ËœMost Incompetent DepartmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
Blair doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to worry about being remembered. He has a sufficient number of personality quirks that commonly mark out the more memorable UK PMs; his almost intolerably insincere Ã¢â‚¬Ëœpassionate beliefÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in everything itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s possible to furrow oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brow at being the highlight of the show.
On the plus side, BlairÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s name will be synonymous with winning elections. His handful of really rather good speeches will enshrine him as a smooth statesman. His motives may even go down as patriotic, but with so many layers of obfuscation and deception, guarded by an aura that is a bit too creepy to try to dissect without the proper protective psychological training, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to tell.
Mostly, however, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll simply be remembered for being a bit nuts.
But does it have to be this way? Is it too late to resurrect a career that so many naively thought would herald a New Age in politics, free of corruption and sleaze, that would deliver Good Things to the Good People of Britain; that would be downright Cool?
The Prime Minister has a year or two of quasi-imperial power and no responsibility whatsoever, save to his own conscience, in which he can, conceivably, secure the most laudable legacy since Alfred the Great.
He could expel the clowns and ignoramuses that clutter the cabinet. He could entertain us all by speaking the truth, candidly and openly, pretending he has some scrap of honour and a decent bone in his body. He could revoke all the silly laws he’s passed. He could untangle the tax system. He could patronise the passages of some eminently decent and intelligent folk into the Lords, and then he could strengthen the ability of the upper chamber to force the Commons to see sense once in a while. He could scrap the government departments that exist only to waste money and employ people who would otherwise have to be cared for by very tolerant psychiatric nurses. He could sort out the prison system. He could thoroughly overhaul education, scrapping it and starting afresh, with no joke degrees, no silly 50 per cent into higher education targets, and a reformed examination system where Ã¢â‚¬ËœAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s actually carry value and children are educated as opposed to appeased with overt dumbing-down of things that their souls are too underdeveloped to appreciate. In the time he has left, however long that may be, he could achieve all this, or at least make a start solid enough that no one would have the energy to halt it.
He’d probably still have time to completely shaft Gordon Brown, just for fun, like.
There is, however, not the slightest chance that he will do any of these things, or even that any of them will occur to him, save in the bizarrest of dreams.
Mr Blair is stuck, grooving along on his own discordant record, having long ago convinced himself that he was right, and that he would remain so forever and ever, amen. Now is not the time, and Mr Blair is not the man, for introspection. For Tony, philosophic was an attribute he dropped when he swapped his guitar-strumming arty-intellectual Oxford mien for his ruthless-yet-ineffectual lawyer one. There is only one way to the pleasant pages of the history books, and it is his way.
Along this way, he may even have kidded himself that he will pass something less damp and less squib-like down to his successor and the rest of the Labour party than he currently looks on course for.
But he will do nothing of the sort. The months ahead will be like those behind, ignoble and dishonest, without a spark of creativity or a shred of unbiased thinking. He will shake hands with so many more cretins of a dictatorial bent, he will eat so many more expensive lunches, have so many more reasons to think Alastair Campbell a chest-beating klutz, and then he will retire, slipping into a life of necessary security, with 50 men hired to protect him from those whom he’s let down and laughed at over the last decade.
There is as much chance of the Prime Minister changing course for the better as there is of him being made life President of Respect. To haul anchor and jump overboard into a speedboat headed to a sacred land of unhindered clear-thinking and common decency requires an intellectual capacity and honesty that Blair simply doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t possess. He knows as much of intellectual honesty as he does of parliamentary honesty. He is all-too-human, lying to himself as much as, if not more than, he does to other people. I might be wrong, of course; he might be worse. He might know what is right, but is doing the opposite, for shits, giggles and an extremely perverted adrenalin rush.
If Mr Blair actually had evidence and logic on his side, he wouldn’t appear so sickeningly shifty all the time; despite his talent for manipulating (and often creating) ‘facts’, he has scant regard for ones that are actually factual.
No. The Prime Minister will stick to what heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s good at: changing the subject, dodging bullets and retreating unscathed into his own little world, free from the inconveniences of disbelievers, experts and people that have found him out.
Pursuing a different agenda is a risk. What if he went bold and failed? HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be in unknown waters. At least his way he controls the game, for good or ill; only he can be tough on himself, and tough on the causes of himself.
Seemingly unconscious of his opportunity for achievement, Blair seems content to let it slide by. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in power, but without any of the most corrupting influences on a politician, most notably the will of the mob, the mad-cap ideas of the insufferable sycophants swarming around his knees and a desire to perpetuate the fortunes of the party he represents. In these circumstances, a man of sufficient courage, courtesy, chivalry and imagination could claim a few pages in the big scrapbook of meritorious history all to himself. Mr Blair will choose not to.
*Any resemblance to another article, maybe hidden away in here,Ã‚Â is because I’m a liar and a fraud. Thus anything that appears remotely witty or eloquent probably isn’t entirely my own work.