photo credit: openDemocracy
New Labour was propelled into office in 1997 on a tide of protest against the sleaze of the Tory years. Yet at the end of its first decade in power, public trust in public life stood lower than it did at the beginning.
How did this happen? How much of it was due to individual scandals, how much to the war in Iraq and how much to abuses of power and patronage? It should not have been like this.
So much of what occurred was unpredictable – and, in retrospect, unbelievable.
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photo credit: wikier
Actually, there is one. But it is limited (until recently) to the management of the economy, to the government’s record on foreign aid and to the Northern Ireland peace deal. I speak from experience. I was a young reporter on the streets at the height of the troubles. Those who helped to make this miracle happen – and Tony Blair was one of them – deserve the credit for it.
Why then tarnish the record with two such terrible mistakes – the failure to restore trust in politics and the war in Iraq? These failures connect. The war, which was launched on the basis of a falsehood, was the worst mistake by a British Prime Minister in living memory. It had graver consequences even than Suez. Then we had the Americans to restrain us. In Iraq we emboldened them and travelled in their slipstream.
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