Why is Tony Blair so unpopular?

By Updated at 2015-08-11 19:58:11 +0000


President George W Bush giving Tony Blair the presidential medal of freedom in the White House in 2009.
Tony Blair won the British general election in May 1997, with a landslide victory against the discredited Conservative government, won again with a landslide in 2001, and won a third time, albeit it with a smaller majority, in 2005. No Labour leader in history ever won three election victories and lost none.

One would expect the Labour Party to revere Mr Blair as its greatest electoral asset. But the opposite is true.

Mr Blair was more successful as a party leader winning elections than he was as a governing prime minister. His biographer looks at why his standing is so low in his own party and beyond.

It was the former British prime minister Tony Blair's foreign policy, though, that was to produce the biggest controversy of his premiership, including protests in London and across the country.

His support for US President George W Bush in the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was the most disputed foreign policy decision by a British prime minister since Anthony Eden decided British troops should invade Egypt in 1956.

The manner of Mr Blair's decision was hotly disputed, including question marks over whether he had misled the country to build his case for committing British troops.

US President George W. Bush and British prime minister Tony Blair - freakingnews.com

He might have been forgiven had the American-led invasion been a success, but its spectacular failure to bring peace to Iraq led to many years of recrimination.
Mr Blair, ironically, enjoyed his most successful period of governing in his final few years in Downing Street, when he had learnt, as he himself admitted, how to manage the job.
But Mr Brown's succession as prime minister in May 2007 could not calm the angst surrounding him.
Thus begins part two of our story, the post-premiership. Mr Blair outlined a very ambitious prospectus for his life after Downing Street. He became the UN's "Middle East Envoy" and worked to bring peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
He also had ambitious plans for Africa, for helping world religions to understand each other, and a host of other good causes.

This was an admirable program, which should have earned him approbation rather than opprobrium.
The fact remains though that almost a decade after leaving Number 10, Mr Blair's public standing is even lower.

Tony Blair won the British general election in May 1997, with a landslide victory against the Conservative government

The lack of palpable progress in the Middle East, in Africa, and in world religions, do not of themselves explain the hostility.
Rather, it has been his contacts with regimes and individuals of questionable morality, and his money-making activities and his homes, all of which have been regularly aired by a profoundly suspicious press, that seem to have caused the damage.
Members of the Labour Party cannot understand why it is necessary for their former leader to make so much money and to be traveling the world in private jets.
Here, he suffers in contrast to Mr Brown, whose years since being removed from Downing Street in May 2010 have been characterized by modest living and circumspection, together with a few well-judged interventions, as during the final days of the Scottish referendum campaign in September 2014.
Mr Blair's standing remains far higher abroad, notably in the United States, than in the UK.
It may be some time before the reputation of this former giant of the world stage begins to rise again.

Sir Anthony Seldon is headmaster of Wellington College and vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham. A noted political historian, he has written biographies of John Major, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair and is currently working on David Cameron's official biography. - BBC

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