Question On Tony Blair's Fall

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by OnceUGoMac, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. OnceUGoMac macrumors 6502a

    OnceUGoMac

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    #1
    I have a question to my British cousins, particularly those who identify themselves as members of the Labour Party and dislike Tony Blair, to explain why they do so. I'd like to hear rational arguments with facts to support their claims, none of this conspiracy theory crap. The reason for my query is that it appears to me that he was appearing to be a well-liked and great Prime Minister until the Iraq Invasion and then he became the vilified. Is it just this issue or are there others?
     
  2. beatsme macrumors 65816

    beatsme

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    #2
    I wonder about this too. It seems to me that Blair, like Clinton in the US, was the once-in-a-generation guy who was able to take the liberal party closer to the center. Who does Labour have that can possibly follow him?
     
  3. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #3
    Putting aside the issue of the war, my particular dislike is founded on his messianic manner and his support for faith schools. There's more but I'm not going to dwell on his shortcomings when they're so succinctly outlined by others, particularly in the national press.

    He's now seen as an electoral liability after disastrous mid-term council and local elections. The pressure is being put on him from below: namely, all of those nervous of losing their seats and power.
     
  4. OnceUGoMac thread starter macrumors 6502a

    OnceUGoMac

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    #4
    Thanks for your response, Blue Velvet. I understand your reservations on this topic, but would you, please, be more specific? As I'm living in the U.S., I hear little to none on British news. What does he do to support faith-based schools? Is it similar to Bush's push towards faith-based programs, or Bush's push for school vouchers, or is it a bit of both? I apologize for my ignorance on the issue, but that's why I started this thread. I'd like more insight than my tenure in London 10 years ago.:D
     
  5. toontra macrumors 6502

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    #5
    I had been a life-long Labour voter until 2003, but Blair's stance leading up to and since the invasion was too much for me to stomach. There is absolutely no way I will vote Labour in the foreseeable future, no matter who the leader. The spineless ministers who could and should have dissuaded Blair from his disastrous decision didn't (or were unable to) do so - in my mind they are equally culpable. In that respect it is a one-issue matter for me.

    That having been said, there's plenty else he's done which I strongly object to (casinos, identity cards, faith schools, PPF's, tuition fees, etc), but each of these on their own wouldn't have tipped the scales - you're always going to disagree with certain aspects of any policy. But watching in slow motion the train wreck that was the Iraq invasion turned my stomach in a way no other political event ever has. For that reason alone I despise the man and all his phony rhetoric.
     
  6. iGav macrumors G3

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    #6
    I really like the idea of ID cards, though personally I think they should be taken several steps further than they are going to be.

    I also think they should actually get a 'designer' in to design the things too. :p
     
  7. OnceUGoMac thread starter macrumors 6502a

    OnceUGoMac

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    #7
    Thanks for that, toontra. I don't want to badger, but what were the policies regarding casinos, identity cards, faith schools, PPF's, tuition fees, etc., and what was it that turned you off from those policies?
     
  8. Glen Quagmire macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    Warning: long!

    I used to be member of the Labour Party, but resigned my membership in 1998 or so, when it became apparent that Blair's government was not living up to my expectations.

    Tony Blair became leader of the UK in 1997 on a huge wave of optimism and goodwill. People wanted him to succeed and thought that he and his government would make positive changes to the UK, based on the sound social-democratic principles that have always been at the core of the Labour Party. Concepts such as fairness for all, justice for all, equality and a more just society. A strong welfare system, high standards of ethics and strong moral and ethical leadership. A strong voice in Europe and on the world stage. An ally of the United States, but not too close. Principled leadership, not opportunistic. Open, honest and down-to-earth. The 1997 election gave the Labour government a majority of 179 in the House of Commons - unprecedented in modern times. With that, they could (in theory) affect huge chance for the better.

    Unfortunately, all that hope has been dashed. Part of Blair's grand plan to get Labour elected after nearly two decades out of office was to shift Labour towards the political centre. The government of the time - the Conservatives - was led by a moderate (John Major) but was racked by divisions, mainly over Europe and mainly led by right-wing reactionary relics from less enlightened time. The overwhelming slant of the Conservatives (also known as the Tory party) was to the political right. This vacated a space in the centre, which Blair could occupy. He could appeal to the large number of moderate voters by jettisoning long-standing Labour policies such as public ownership of major assets and natural resources (electricity generation and distribution, natural gas, transportation and water).

    Blair was aided in this by a crisis known as Black Wednesday, which occurred in September 1992. Essentially, currency speculators caused a huge drop in the value of the UK pound sterling (£) on the international currency exchange. The government (of John Major) spent billions trying to prop up the pound, at one point raising interest rates to 15%. This totally failed and the Tories' economic reputation - by strong their strongest (and Labour's weakest) - was in tatters.

    Labour had historically been seen as a high tax party (as is typical for parties of the left). Blair changed all this. He established Labour as credible on the crucial issues of taxation and spending. The stage was set for the return of a Labour government.

    So, 1997. Labour win and win big. Everything's going to be rosy, isn't it?

    Well, no.

    Tony Blair has always been a slick operator. He projects a strong public image. He uses empathy with his audience to good effect. He is a very effective orator. He is not a man of strong ideology; he speaks in short, simple sentences. He likes to use phrases over and over. Appearance, to Tony Blair, counts an awful lot.

    Problem is, though, that many people thought that Blair attached too much importance to appearance and perception and not enough to substance. Like George W. Bush, the Blair government likes to control the agenda. It has dozens of PR people. It spins and slants stories. It leaks announcements to its favoured (Murdoch) newspapers.

    We have a Prime Ministerial system. The Queen (or whoever) is the head of state. The Prime Minister chooses his cabinet and appoints ministers. Blair elevated the importance of the Prime Minister to a quasi-Presidential level. He became the dominant figure in his government and became supremely important. His personality shone through everywhere.

    Now, we Brits like our system of government. Sure, it's not perfect, but Blair's presidential behaviour and the control freakery that accompany it have left a bad taste.

    Next, policies. Blair had a huge mandate to do pretty much what he wanted. Yet his policies have been timid in the extreme - tinkering around the edges. He has poured money into schools and hospitals, yet improvements seem very hard to find. He spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get legislation banning fox hunting put into effect. He has failed to provide positive leadership with regards to Europe - notably on the Euro, which the majority of the rest of Europe uses. He has enacted some legislation that has gone down very badly with the Labour MPs in the House of Commons, bringing the private sector into places that they have hitherto never been - notably in education and hospitals.

    Another major issue has been personal propriety. Blair has been untarnished personally by this (he's not been caught accepting bribes, for instance), but after five years of corruption and sleaze in the John Major government, people thought that Labour would be beyond reproach. But, alas, no! Ministers have been caught accepting money off rich (mainly foreign) businessmen. Friends of Tony have been appointed to positions in the House of Lords for giving money to Labour to fund its election campaigns.

    As for faith schools, the British are not as afflicted by religion as our friends in the United States. We don't wear it on our sleeves. Church attendance is low. Most people of my age are agnostic or atheist. We dislike preachy politicans (and other people) who try and pass their religion on to the rest of us. There has been much talk recently about how multiculturalism has failed, giving rise to a society segregated by race. Faith schools don't to much to resolve this problem.

    Yet, all this pales in comparison to the biggest issues of all: the relationship with the United States and the war on "terror".

    Blair, being of the same generation as Bill Clinton, was fairly close to the man from Hope. They had a similar political outlook and had both bought their parties to power by appealing to the centre of the political spectrum. It was thought that when George W. Bush won his first election in 2000, Blair wouldn't be as close, given that Pres. Bush was a fairly right-wing Republican good ole boy and Blair was (nominally) a social democrat.

    Blair has always been seduced by power - be it that wielded by businessmen or by other politicans. In Bush, he found someone with a similar tendancy to wear his religion on his sleeve. And, against all the odds, the Oxford-educated Blair bonded with the pampered Texan.

    The UK and the US have always been close (well, in recent times) but with Bush and Blair in charge, unprecedented levels of closeness have been in evidence. British Prime Ministers have stood up to US presidents in the past (one 1960s Prime Minister snubbed LBJ and refused to send British troops to Vietnam). But not with Blair. Where Bush led, he followed. Perhaps it wouldn't be as bad as we feared. Perhaps the relatively level-headed Blair could act as a brake on some of Bush's more outlandish behaviour.

    The British people, by and large, thinks George W. Bush is an idiot. A simplistic, dumb moron who fell into the White House by accident and who is completely out of his depth. Comedians get huge value out of his many pratfalls, garbled syntax and odd behaviourisms.

    All of that changed on 9/11. Blair followed Bush's lead and spoke about the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism. British troops followed their US counterparts into Afghanistan to get rid of Al Qaeda and their Taliban friends.

    Next, part two of Bush's grand plan. Iraq: a country that had no link to 9/11, led by a secular socialist called Saddam who wasn't terribly friendly with nutcase Osama bin Laden and his ilk. We Brits were told of the huge threat that Saddam faced. All those WMDs, just waiting to pulverise us into little bits. Apparently, Saddam could have these weapons ready for use in a mere 45 minutes! He provided evidence for this: governmental reports and the like. The British public was not so belligerent as its US counterpart, but troops went in away and Saddam was overthrown.

    Since then, evidence has come to light that the evidence that Blair used as a basis for going to war in Iraq was largely falsified and certain aspects were overexagerated to support the government's case. No WMDs were found. A prominent UN weapons inspector from the UK was found dead (by his own hand) after being outed by the government as the source of leaked information that undermined the UK government's claims about Iraq. Subsequent official inquiries have exonerated the government, to the distinct smell of whitewash.

    And so it goes on. All that hope, dashed.

    Blair's legacy will be forever tainted by Iraq and his strange relationship with George W. Bush. A government that promised so much delivered so little. There is still high crime here, cars still clog the road system and people still receive poor care in hospital. The positive things that the Blair governments have enacted have been overshadowed.

    As for Blair's successor, there is no other heavyweight choice than Gordon Brown. He is just as flawed as Blair. Brown is not a particularly inspiring personality. He is serious and highly celebral. Assuming he wins the leadership when Blair goes, he will face a Conservative version of Tony Blair at the next election (probably 2009/2010) named David Cameron. Cameron has done a Blair on the Tories. He has shifted them to the centre and positioned himself as a moderate. He condemns the incompetent government of the day with the same passion as Blair did to John Major in the mid-1990s. Cameron is a formidable opponent; I won't vote for him, largely on the basis of his policies on Europe, but there are a number of positives to him, not least his enlightened stance on the environment.

    Anyway, that's my two pence-worth.
     
  9. Queso macrumors G4

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    #9
    My turning point against Bliar and "New Labour" was the reform of the House of Lords. For the first time in a century a serious effort was being made to sort out the Upper House and turn it into something truly worthy of a 21st Century Democracy (or Constitutional Monarchy, but that's for another thread :p ).

    If Bliar had really wanted change for the betterment of the UK, he would have used his overwhelming Lower House majority to not only remove the hereditary peers, but tie the makeup of the Upper House to the will of the electorate. One suggestion that the Liberal Democrats (the "third party" of British politics) wanted was for the House of Lords to be made up based on proportional representation. This would have meant that every vote cast in a general election would count whilst maintaining a local representative for each constituency in the Lower House under the first past the post system. It would also have meant that legislation would be amended under consensus between the parties based on their actual popularity with the people of the country rather than the Westminster elite.

    But no. Bliar instead removed the mostly Tory-leaning hereditary peers and appointed a whole bunch of his friends into the chamber as Life Peers. The British public therefore still have absolutely no say in who sits in the House and amends legislation in our name.

    Bliar simply couldn't face that a PR elected Upper House might not automatically back his policies, and that with the backing of the electorate it may have more authority when it did decide not to rubberstamp bad ideas.

    The illegal invasion of Iraq and the resulting huge waste of both life and money tied to making the UK a major terrorist target just added fuel to the fire. His refusal to hold a public inquiry into the 7/7 terrorist attack then compounded just how much I have come to despise the man, and the ID cards thing, which will be a £30bn waste of OUR money, is the icing on the cake.

    </rant>

    As to who should replace Bliar, there's only one Labour politician with the ideas and the will to push them through to my mind. Unfortunately he's busy being Mayor of London.
     
  10. beatsme macrumors 65816

    beatsme

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    #10
    I'm sorry (American...didn't vote for Bush, either of them), what are faith schools, exactly? A private Catholic school would be an example, right? Is this the kind of thing where you could choose a private faith school over a public school and pay for it with a government voucher?

    also, PPF's? What are they?

    Sorry for dumb questions. We don't get a lot of real news here in the states. Unless you're a celebrity, you're really not newsworthy...
     
  11. OnceUGoMac thread starter macrumors 6502a

    OnceUGoMac

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    #11
    Thanks for your recap, Glen Quaqmire. I lived in London ten years ago, but left shortly before Labour took control. Dynamicv, your rant is duly noted.:)
     
  12. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #12
    Public/Private Finance Initiative. A way of getting private finance for schools and other public works, in theory in partnership with the public sector. In effect, a way to achieve public services sponsored by Coca Cola, arms manufacturers, or other such honourable, public-spirited bodies.
     
  13. Queso macrumors G4

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    #13
    PPFs are also nice little earners for the British banking sector, as any money involved is always lent to the public body at higher interest rates than they would charge private concerns or central Government.

    Faith schools are state-funded single denomination schools where the denomination's particular brand of religion is heavily promoted at taxpayers expense.
     
  14. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #14
    A truly brilliant idea, as so perfectly demonstrated in Northern Ireland for so many years.
     
  15. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000

    FleurDuMal

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    #15
    You forgot to mention that public money usually ends up bailing out such projects when they no longer appear commercially appealing to Mr Philanthropic Businessman. :(
     
  16. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #16
    I think that's where the "partnership" bit comes in.
     
  17. beatsme macrumors 65816

    beatsme

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    #17
    ah...why don't they just let the private companies plaster their corporate logos all over everything in the public domain, the way we let fast food companies advertise in the hallways of our public schools and on the sides of our school buses? :rolleyes:
     
  18. SpookTheHamster macrumors 65816

    SpookTheHamster

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    #18
    He has a tendancy to suggest something, and then force it through in the face of overwhelming opposition, he then claims it as a huge victory for the country. Take top-up fees as an example. Nobody wanted them (aside from money-grabbing unis), yet he pushed them through. As a result, the next generation of students will be leaving university with triple the debt they would have had. He and his colleagues benefited from free university, talk about burning the ladder.

    For someone who once promised so much for our education system, he's doing a lot to destroy it.

    I've yet to vote, but I'll probably be voting Lib Dem. I can't stand labour anymore, and I'll never vote tory.
     
  19. Queso macrumors G4

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    #19
    Shhhh!! You'll give them ideas :D
     
  20. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #20
    They already do.:(
     
  21. beatsme macrumors 65816

    beatsme

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    #21
    that sucks. I realize the public schools here are in a pinch for money, but I think letting advertisers target the kids, especially in school where they're required by law to be, is downright criminal.
     
  22. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #22
    No but he also doesn't act decisively when anyone else is caught up in something. For a non-sleaze party, there's been a fair amount in recent years. I can't quite believe that Prescott is still Deputy PM after his various screwups. The Blunkett affair dragged on for too long. Jowell (who never responds to letters/emails sent to her by at least this constituent) got away with her hubby's dodgy finances by a 'separation'.

    And the Blair's Presidential style which led to us having a Prime Lady is more disturbing. We didn't vote for Cherie - I don't particularly want her representing me and swanning around without taking any responsibility for her faith healers, dodgy mortgages etc. At least Norma Major stayed in the background.

    The use of Blair-Force 1 for his family's holidays also doesn't quite fit with his Labour roots. And why the heck should he get free holidays on his celeb pals' islands? That's purely because he's PM.

    I wasn't too worried when he came in - there was a feeling that it was time for a change. But very little really has aside from I'm being taxed more (primarily through indirect taxes) and getting nothing more back - in the community as well as personally.
     

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