Tony Blair took my advice and put his departure off until the day after the last A2 exam. I guess I won't be publishing all those e-mails from Lord Levy after all. Seriously, the purpose of this page is so you can write an overview of his premiership. AS will want the domestic material, A2 that and the foreign affairs stuff too. There is also an review of his African policy for the A2.

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1. Great Blair quotes
2. Major on being a PM
3. Did Blairism exist?
4. I'll give Blair 6 1/2 out of 10

5. What is Blair's African legacy? (A2)
6.Has the last decade been a disaster?


1.
Great Blair Quotes:

"We must transform Labour from a party of protest to a party of government."
Leadership campaign leaflet, 1994

"I believe a referendum is right so that people can decide what is the best electoral system for the country."
15 July 1994, BBC Radio 4 Today
"I lead my party. He follows his."
25 May 1995, taunting John Major in the Commons
"I did not join the Labour Party to protest. I joined it as a party of government and I will make sure that it is a party of government."
September 1995, at TUC conference

"We are not the master now. The people are the masters. We are the servants of the people. We will never forget that.
7 May 1997, addressing Labour MPs at Church House

“We live in a world where isolationism has ceased to have a reason to exist.” Chicago, 1999

“The kaleidoscope has been shaken. The pieces are in flux. Soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us re-order this world around us.” 2 Oct 2001

“The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world.” 2 Oct 2001

“The allegation that I or anyone else has lied to this House [of Commons] or deliberately misled the country by falsifying intelligence on WMD is itself the real lie.” 28 Jan. 2004

“It is time to resolve for once and for all whether this country, Britain, wants to be at the centre and heart of European decision making or not.” 20 April 2004

“The rules of the game have changed.” 5 August 2005. Commenting on anti-terrorism laws and the judges after the 7/7 bombings.

“Every time I've ever introduced a reform in government, I wish in retrospect I had gone further.”27 Sept 2005

“Sometimes it is better to lose and do the right thing than to win and do the wrong thing.” 9 November 2005, after losing his first vote in the Commons over 90 day detention without trial for terrorist suspects.

“This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash about civilisation.” 21 March, 2006 about Iraq. Repeated 12 months later in an article as “... clash between civilisation and feudalism.”

“At least I don't have to worry about her running off with the bloke next door.” 26 Sept 2006.


2.Major reflection on being a PM
Sir John Major has warned that Gordon Brown faces some of the same "difficult set of circumstances" which made parts of his premiership an "unalloyed hell". These, he told a London School of Economics and Hansard Society event, include a general "time for a change" view among public and media.
Parallels also include inheriting a large bloc of unhappy ex-ministers and MPs devoted to his No 10 predecessor.
Sir John also questioned whether the chancellor had the peacemaking skills needed to succeed as prime minister.
He said he did not know Mr Brown well, but he seemed to have a "vengeful" attitude to critics, which might be an issue because a prime minister had to be a "peacemaker" between departments on an almost hourly basis.
A chancellor can say "I'm going to do this and leave the prime minister to sort out the mess", but a prime minister has to do the sorting, he said.
The two jobs "need completely different skills".
An unknown
Sir John, who succeeded Margaret Thatcher after she had been prime minister for eleven years, went on less than two years later to upset the odds and win a fourth Tory term.
He reminded the audience at the London School of Economics that at the 1992 election he got more votes than any prime minister had received before or since.

The chance of the Conservative Party splitting was very real and remained real for a very, very long time
Sir John Major
His task was helped by being an unknown when replacing Mrs Thatcher, he said, meaning people felt there had been a change of government.
The problem for Mr Brown, if and when he succeeds Mr Blair after a decade as prime minister, is that he has been part of a duo running the government, so will not give the public the same sense of a change, Sir John said.
In a wide-ranging - and rare - public discussion of his time as prime minister, Sir John said the media often gave an exaggerated or simplistic view of prime ministerial styles.
Mrs Thatcher had been a much greater proponent of Cabinet government than portrayed, he said.
Northern Ireland
For example, he said, Nigel Lawson and Geoffrey Howe had persuaded her to press ahead with the privatisation programme, while council house sales had been the result of Peter Walker and Michael Heseltine pushing it in Cabinet.
But "because she was prime minister she got the credit and the blame when things went right or wrong".
Sir John was then asked, by Hansard host Elinor Goodman, whether he regretted being too consensual in style, a style which, it was put to him, suggested weakness.
He said he liked to gather opinions and then decide, and picked out his Northern Ireland peace moves as an example of an occasion when he pressed ahead in the face of Cabinet opposition.
"At no stage did I have a majority on it," he said, saying he was aware of an "orange wing" in Cabinet looking over his shoulder all the time, and a general "sceptics" group who just thought "I was being taken for a ride by the IRA".
Almost 10 years after being voted out of Downing Street - and as people consider what Tony Blair's legacy might be - there was something eerily familiar about Sir John's choice of proudest achievements.
They were, he said, the Northern Ireland peace process and also defeating inflation and providing successive years of economic growth.
ERM defended
Looking back he said he had enjoyed a large part of his six and a half years as prime minister, but admitted "some of it was unalloyed hell".
Those less enjoyable times came after Black Wednesday, when the pound was forced out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, an event which he conceded led to the Conservatives losing their reputation for economic competence.
But Sir John was adamant that entering the ERM in the first place, under Mrs Thatcher, had not only been the right thing to do, but had also been the means to crush inflation and allow the subsequent period of economic growth.

I know a great deal more about the world today than I ever did in government
Sir John Major
He said that at the time the pound joined there had been no option - a decision he said Mrs Thatcher was fully in favour of - as the economic situation was "grisly" and the pound was "facing collapse".
Having said that he remains unsure whether he should have resigned after the turmoil of Black Wednesday.
That day had seen a whole series of events coming together to create "a perfect storm" - it was not just a case of economic mismanagement, he said.
Nonetheless he had written a resignation letter and the script for a resignation broadcast and was intending to resign until persuaded not to by "senior civil servants and senior ministers".
The argument that appeared to have dissuaded him was that he would have created chaos nationally and in the Conservative Party by doing so within a few months of being elected prime minister... "but I have never been sure whether it was the right decision".
Iraq war
Black Wednesday may, or may not, have been one of the occasions he was referring to when he was later asked how, with hindsight, he might have done things differently as prime minister.
Perhaps, he said, he had put "too high a premium on keeping the Conservative Party together... the chance of the Conservative Party splitting was very real and remained real for a very, very long time".
"Perhaps I should have done more about what I cared about."
Asked about Iraq, which he had supported at the time of the war on the assumption that the PM had seen even more worrying intelligence than that released, Sir John said it was still too early to judge whether it was the right decision.
That would only become clear in "10, perhaps 20" years and would depend on the state of the Middle East.
He also defended the decision in the first Gulf War not to press on to depose Saddam Hussein after Iraqi forces had been expelled from Kuwait.
'Golden age'
Had they done so, he said, the US and the UK would have lost the trust for decades of the Arab nations who had joined the coalition on the basis that its remit was to enforce UN resolutions to liberate Kuwait.
Asked about relations with President Bush senior, Sir John said the reality was that the US was the senior partner in the "special relationship".
However, political and military leaders in both countries had worked together closely and talked frankly.
As he approaches 10 years out of Downing Street his advice for Mr Blair was to "move beyond politics".
Sir John, who since leaving office has kept a low public profile but has globe trotted as a company board member, said he sometimes thinks life "is lived the wrong way round... I know a great deal more about the world today than I ever did in government".
So, was it true that he was patronised by the mandarins at the Foreign Office when he was surprisingly appointed to Foreign Secretary by Margaret Thatcher.
That, he said, like the suggestion he had rung tabloid editors to help decide on important policies, was "absolute rubbish".
Indeed, he joked, the Foreign Office now look back on his 94 days as foreign secretary as "a golden age... we were at war with no-one and at peace with the world".
You can watch the event on BBC Parliament on Saturday 28 April at 2100 BST (2000 GMT). The channel is available on all digital platforms and can also be watched online at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/parliament
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk_politics/6590903.stm
Published: 2007/04/26 11:37:54 GMT
© BBC MMVII

3.

There is no Blairism. An 'ism' needs a coherent set of ideas

Simon Jenkins. April 25, 2007

This last decade has seen a new style, a new PR technique, but not a new ideology. Thatcherism remains the guiding light

We are to be overwhelmed. A tidal wave of epitaphs, eulogies and obsequies of Tony Blair is upon us. His era will crave definition. The flesh must be made word, and the word is Blairism. Already it is creeping into the columns of this paper. It hangs on the lips of friend and foe alike.

Let us get one thing straight. Blairism does not exist and never has. It is all froth and miasma. It consists of throwing a packet of words such as change, community, renewal, partnership, social and reform into the air and watching them twinkle to the ground like blossom until the body politic is carpeted with sweet-smelling bloom. An -ism implies a coherent set of ideas, an ideology capable of driving a programme in a particular direction. In plumbing the shallows of Blair's ideas, even his guru, Raymond Plant, was reduced to taking refuge in Daniel Bell's End of Ideology. Like most British prime ministers - whatever they proclaim - Blair in office has taken things as he found them, tootling along until the dying fall of his departure.

That is not to say that Britain under Blair and Gordon Brown has lacked a guiding light, but that light has been Thatcherism. This reality has been obscured by the congenital bipolarity of British politics and the bifocalism of the Westminster media, in which protocol requires that everything is expressed in terms of government and opposition. Hence Blairism cannot be Thatcherism because Blair is Labour and Margaret Thatcher Tory. For a decade British politics has, quite simply, been wrongly described.

Blair and Brown became Thatcherites by conviction in the early 1990s and have never deserted the faith. They tore up Labour's pledges to raise income tax, restore trade union rights, renationalise utilities, keep the NHS in public hands and pursue nuclear disarmament. Blair never criticised Thatcher, indeed he adored her and boasted of her praise for him (in the Sun) before the 1997 election. Since then he regularly sought her advice on foreign policy, above all in "hugging close" each incumbent of the White House. He professed friendship with George Bush and has preferred the right to the left among fellow European leaders.

Meanwhile Brown at the Treasury renationalised nothing and privatised anything that moved, including much of public administration. Brown's emblem has been the soaring wealth of the City of London, grown fat on his fees. He has displayed to a fault Thatcherism's achilles heel, a disbelief in the public service ethos. The greatest of all privatisations, of the bulk of public sector investment, would have made even Thatcher blanch. And she never dared his assault on unemployment, single parent and disability benefits.

Blair's apologists cite a few items with which to clothe his -ism, such as the minimum wage, tax credits (invented by Geoffrey Howe), a gesture against foxhunting and the odd inner-city initiative. There has been modest progress on child poverty and waiting lists (if you believe them), though the poor appear to have grown poorer under Blair, and the rich far richer. Europe's social chapter was signed but not implemented. Taxes have risen but chiefly on expenditure, as Thatcherism ordains. Any government in power for a decade and consuming 40% of the national product could hardly fail to show some improved public welfare.

A leader shows his ideological bias when faced with real choices. In Blair's case these have included whether to ally himself with Europe or America, renew Trident, pursue comprehensive as
opposed to selective schools, keep the private sector out of the NHS, privatise London's tube and use consultants rather than civil servants to cure administrative evils. On each occasion Blair has opted for the prevailing Thatcherite orthodoxy inherited from John Major.

The public sector may not have shrunk drastically under Blair, but then it did not do so under the Tories, nor has it in any other modern state. Thatcherism was never anti-statist, rather a different way of ordering the state. It is one that Blair has never renounced, nor sought to replace. To him and to Brown the path to delivery of public services lies through private money and the private sector. That is Thatcherism.

Lexicographers will seek other definitions of Blairism. One might be the manner by which he attained power in 1993-97. This was his "project" to hijack the Labour party and turn it into an electoral machine for his own brand of charismatic leadership. The neutering of the unions, the humiliation of the national executive and annual conference, the rewriting of Clause Four and the concentration of power on the leader's office constituted a coup on a scale not seen since the growth of modern parties in the 19th century. The coup was brilliant, but it did not usher in "Blairism", rather it made Britain safe for Thatcherism for another decade. It was a project for winning power, not for using it. Blair captured Labour much as Napoleon captured the French revolution. It was his finest hour, but it was no ideological innovation.

Another definition of Blairism to break surface is as a description of a style of rule. Here Blair is in line of descent from 19th-century exponents of messianic authority such as Nietzsche and Max Weber. Like their "ideal leader", he is never politically specific, always visionary, never partisan, always charming and disarming, a "friend to the people". Such qualities are quasi-religious, those of exposition rather than decision. They are what we now call spin not substance. Blair's 1995 conference speech, an hour-long confection of pure verbal candyfloss, was a classic of the genre. He has been a remarkable exponent of this style, but it remains a style, a technique of public relations, not an -ism.

The word Blairism reflects a yearning to fit politics into a conceptual straitjacket, but it is a misnomer resulting from Britain's archaic political conversation. Blair's term in Downing Street has been the continuance of an ideological narrative that began in 1979, not 1997. The old saw, that a government that lacks an anchor in ideology will founder on the rock of personality, would certainly apply to Blair were it not for the fact that he has had a rock, he has had an ideology. It was Thatcherism.
Simon Jenkins is the author of Thatcher and Sons.


Poor Britannia - 10 awful years under Blairism
By Simon Heffer 25/04/2007

Ten years ago next week, on the blazing Saturday morning after the landslide that took Tony Blair to power, I was wandering through the deserted streets of Georgian Westminster, near the Houses of Parliament.

I came across someone who until 24 hours earlier had been a pillar of the Government, with one of the safest seats in England. He was back by a terrifyingly slim majority, but knew his ministerial career was over.

He had the calmness common to those in deep shock, but as we spoke I could judge how intense his trauma was. An educated man who always chose his words with great care, he could now utter only a stream of clichés to describe what had happened to his party, and what he feared would happen to our country. I was up for Portillo, and recall Mrs Blair in her nightie and, later in the day, her husband's entry into Downing Street: but that response of raw horror at the life to come remains my most vivid memory of the aftermath.

advertisementAs we prepare to observe the anniversary a week today, we might reflect on how far the fears proved to be grounded. Some say Labour has won two more big victories since 1997 because most people feel they have done well under Mr Blair. We are ever more a nation of happy homeowners, living in affluence of which our grandparents could only have dreamed, stopping to tend our roses only to wash our gleaming new car, or to depart on one of several holidays a year to sunnier climes. We have something called a "work-life balance", we are by compulsion environmentally aware, with nothing more to concern us than the frequency with which our bins are emptied.

We are also told that the years before 1997 were marked by ministerial incompetence (which reached its pinnacle on Black Wednesday) that, in terms of sheer calamitous embarrassment, has not been equalled even by Mr Blair and his friends. And it is argued that the last Conservative administration embodied social attitudes that were outdated and harsh, and that Labour has swept them away for all time. This last argument is given the greatest force by the fact that one of its main adherents is the present leader of the Conservative Party.

Some of those institutions the Conservatives wished to preserve have gone, notably the notion of a United Kingdom: others, though, are intact, or nearly so. Her Majesty the Queen remains on the throne, loved by her people as never before: that affection itself a product, no doubt, of the feelings harboured towards the political class.

There are still 92 hereditary peers in the House of Lords. There is still a Lord Chancellor and Keeper of the Queen's Conscience, even though Mr Blair tried by fiat to abolish him. The Brigade of Guards, the public schools, an independent judiciary, sub-post offices, gentlemen's clubs, the Women's Institute, the Boat Race and, of course, packs of foxhounds still exist, despite a vast New Labour prejudice against them and, in at least one case, an attempt to abolish them. Since these elements of the atavistic past have escaped the scythe, we might be tempted to imagine we have got off lightly.

We would be wrong.

The past decade has seen a sustained assault on public probity, economic responsibility, constitutional efficiency, the rule of law, administrative competence, liberty of the subject, and our international reputation of a sort unknown in living memory. I defer to no one in my disdain for the Major government: but, with the notable exceptions of its economic buffoonery and its toadying to pro-Europeanism, it could not hold a candle to the present crew for sheer destructiveness of our values, our way of life and our money.

If you seek its monument, look around you. Our public services, which we were told were safe only in Labour's hands, are nearly non-serviceable. As a group of doctors protested on Monday, the NHS is now so hopeless that people, having already paid high taxes for the privilege of a free-at-point-of-use service, are making huge sacrifices to pay to go privately.

Children pass record numbers of GCSEs and A-levels, and record numbers go on to university, yet employers report a shortage of able graduates and, as Jeff Randall wrote here a fortnight ago, would rather have entrants straight from school.

Council taxes, like many other imposts, have risen far faster than inflation, yet local services (bins again) are being cut. Do not be deceived by a near-doubling of the prison population in the past decade into thinking Labour is "tough on crime". The police are now a weapon of social engineering, with promotion at the highest levels contingent usually on how well an officer buys the ruling ideology, and not how good he is at catching criminals.

Crime has risen because of Labour's refusal to address the causes of criminality, notably family breakdown, poor schools and the proliferation of drugs. The knife culture, and the present epidemic of youths going around stabbing each other to death, is redolent of what a happy country Labour has made.

Never since the Six Acts of almost 190 years ago has individual liberty been so abused by the state in peacetime. As the statistics show, this is not about controlling crime: it is about controlling people. Yet (and this is a mark of the incompetence with which we are governed) our borders remain porous and the Government barely knows where to start in enforcing them, with the minister responsible admitting that the public have become angry. But since one of the flagship policies of Blairism - devolution - has effectively ended the United Kingdom, perhaps disregard for our borders comes as standard.

We face a troubled old age because of the assault on pensions by he who looks sure to be the next prime minister. High taxes are driving more businesses abroad: contrast this with the success of our much-patronised neighbour, Ireland. High personal taxes have been used by the next prime minister to build a client state that employs almost a quarter of our workforce and, in some Labour heartlands, between a third and a half. In the countryside, by contrast, farmers are adding all the time to the suicide statistics, and their land is seen as little more than a theme park.

Our soldiers die ever more numerously in Iraq. Our Armed Forces are ruthlessly run down. To curry favour with an anti-American Europe, Mr Blair offers to sign up to its new "constitution" without any consultation of the British public. But worst of all, perhaps, is the vice Mr Blair came to power principally to eradicate: sleaze. I know he is not a crook, but there are allegations that crookery has happened on his watch. Whatever he wants his legacy to be, it probably isn't the sight of some of his associates being taken off in handcuffs.

We are not in shock - we are all to used to this - so let us avoid cliché. Let us not talk of 10 wasted years, for that is too simple and, indeed, is not enough. Let us talk, instead, of 10 utterly ruinous ones.

http://www.martinfrost.ws/htmlfiles/april2007/blairism_unpicked.html

4.
From The Times
May 10, 2007

I’ll give Blair six and a half out of ten


Mary Ann Sieghart
So how was it for you? Think back a decade and ask yourself how different life is now. Are you better off? Is your house worth more? Do you have a good job? Does your children’s school still have a leaky roof? Is your father stuck on an 18-month waiting list for an operation? Are there no nursery places for your toddler?
If your answers were “yes, yes, yes, no, no, no”, you might conclude that the Blair legacy was pretty solid. There are millions of people whose lives have been improved in the past decade in many small ways. They may not credit the Government for the fact that they now earn a decent minimum wage or that their child has a place at a SureStart centre. They may have forgotten the old winter crises in the NHS (when was the last one?) or the horror stories of grannies lying on trolleys. They may not realise that the tax credits that boost their income are a deliberate Labour policy rather than a Revenue & Customs contrivance. And they may not appreciate that ten years of continuous economic growth is almost unprecedented.
For many of the successes, there is a failure, often the flip side of the same coin. Your house is worth a mint but your grown-up children can’t afford even a small flat. Your local school is new but discipline is so poor that pupils spray graffiti all over it. Waiting lists have virtually vanished but we now complain about cleanliness instead. More people can afford a car and more are in work, so the roads and railways are clogged.
Then there are the failures that are relative, not absolute. Hundreds of thousands of children have been lifted out of poverty, but not as many as ministers hoped. Teenage pregnancies have fallen but are still higher than in most of our European neighbours. Crime is down but violent crime is up. Exam results are improving but those in other countries are improving faster still.
There are slam-dunk tangible achievements, such as peace in Northern Ireland.
Who would have thought, ten years ago, that such a thing was even possible? The conflict seemed as intractable as the Middle East, and ministers were sent to serve there as a penance. Blair put an immense amount of time, energy and patience into that, and deserves history’s pat on his shoulder.
The introduction of tuition fees was highly controversial (not least with Gordon Brown) but Blair put his premiership on the line for it, and now 77 per cent of voters approve. What is more, three of the world’s top ten universities are in this country (all the others are American), and the ability to charge fees will help them to stay there.
Other achievements are more nebulous but no less important. Can you remember, for instance, how uptight and strait-laced Britain felt under John Major? We seemed trapped in a 1950s, Dralon vision of the world in which homosexuality was wicked, working mothers only marginally less so, and Shirley Bassey was the epitome of cool.
Now Britain is seen the world over as modern, vibrant and tolerant. Civil partnerships came in with barely a murmur and gay men get into trouble only if they commit perjury about finding a boyfriend from an escort agency (and had Lord Browne of Madingley done the same with a woman, he would have been equally discredited). Meanwhile, the Leader of the Lords is a black woman and hardly anyone has even noticed. Can you imagine that happening under the Major Administration? Britain has really come on in a decade.
And yet . . . Iraq will be seen as a giant blot on Blair’s record, to some people all that matters. He believed that there were weapons of mass destruction there, but he should have put the intelligence under far more intense scrutiny. As the Butler report showed all too devastastingly, the sources were at best dubious. The trouble was, the intelligence services had failed to predict the Falklands conflict, 9/11 and Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. That they overcompensated when it came to WMD was understandable and disastrous in equal measure.
For me, Blair’s worst sin has been to make the entire political class seem deceitful, and so to erode people’s trust in the political process. Before 1997 the Tories were seen as uniquely sleazy, and Labour promised a fresh start. After Ecclestone, Mittal, cash-for-peerages and a habitual economy with the truth, voters began to believe that “they’re all the same”. From there it is but a short step to political disengagement.
This should not have happened. It is entirely Blair’s fault that it did. He was far too careless with his fundraising and his favours, and he allowed his distaste for the whole process to cloud his judgment.
All premierships, though, are a mixture of successes and failures, and my tally suggests that Blair will score better than average when the historians come to evaluate him. Worse than Churchill, Attlee and Thatcher, perhaps, but certainly better than Major, Callaghan, Eden, Douglas-Home, Heath and Wilson.
Tony Blair the political equivalent of Harold Macmillan? That seems about right. This Prime Minister deserves a respectable six-and-a-half out of ten for achievement. It could have been a lot worse. maryann.sieghart@thetimes.co.uk
Lost cause
One Labour minister told me that he was really quite encouraged by the mood he met on the doorsteps while out canvassing for the local elections last week. “They’re not angry with us,” he told me cheerfully.
I have bad news for him. When voters are angry, they are still prepared to engage. They want to vent their rage but they may be willing, having let it all out, to be persuaded that the party they normally support is listening and changing.
As John Major’s Conservatives discovered during the dog years of 1992 to 1997, the most unpromising voters are those who are no longer angry but merely withdrawn. The chances are that they have already decided to desert you and support another party.
If canvassers meet with a perfectly polite “no” on the doorstep, that’s when they are in trouble.
Splitting mad
Yesterday marked the first day of the new Ministry of Justice, half of the old Home Office. The Guardian also reported yesterday that Tony Blair toyed with splitting the Treasury into two after the 2005 election.
In the past ten years we have had endless reorganisations of departments, with more time, money and energy spent on renaming offices and reshuffling officials than on delivering whatever it is that the new department is supposed to do.
Now there are rumours that Brown, too, wants to make his mark by splitting up some departments and beefing up others. Is there any evidence that voters care a jot about this? And is there any evidence that the business of government is improved by it?
I fear not.

5. What is Blair's African legacy? (A2)
As UK Prime Minister Tony Blair continues his last tour of Africa before he steps down next month, BBC correspondents analyse his record in four key areas: Sierra Leone; Darfur; Zimbabwe and Libya.
SIERRA LEONE: ALAN LITTLE
I have never seen a single bold and swift military intervention transform a country's prospects so comprehensively and so immediately. It was breathtaking.
When Britain sent a battalion of paratroops - just 800 men - to Sierra Leone in May 2000, they came not as peacekeepers but, in effect, as combatants.
They backed the democratically elected government, whose army had fallen into decay and disarray, against a rebel army with a record of recruiting child soldiers, terrorising civilians and chopping off limbs.
British troops were welcomed in the capital, Freetown, and given popular credit for saving the city from another brutal rebel invasion.
Prime Minister Tony Blair remains wildly popular here.
For the British rebuilt the government armed forces, bringing discipline, guns, and expertise - sufficient to end the war not by negotiating a peace, but by winning it; by driving rebel forces out.
The British are still here, though in radically reduced numbers, and their guiding hand remains vital.
The Department for International Development remains the biggest single foreign donor.
It is an irony not lost on generations of Sierra Leoneans that the country, nearly 50 years after independence, is now looking to the old colonial master for leadership and protection.
Many here remember the euphoria that greeted the lowering of the union flag and the raising of Sierra Leone's national standard in 1961.
But if Britain has brought security and lasting peace, the conditions that led to the war in the first place are - worryingly - still in place.
Fragile
Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest nations on earth, despite its abundant mineral wealth.
Up-country the diamond mines are working again. The people wonder where that wealth is going.
Climb the hill above Freetown and part of the answer presents itself: the sprawl of new homes - large, luxurious and gated - that stand now on land that was, seven years ago, lightly forested hillside.
The government that Britain rescued seven years ago is still in power.
It has presided over a system of entrenched corruption in which the political elite grows rich while the mass of the people remain poor.
Unemployment stands at 80%. Life expectancy for men is 39.
In the seven years since Britain's intervention there has been no serious anti-corruption drive. Freetown remains one of the world's few capital cities with no mains electricity supply and no running water in most homes.
Poverty and corruption fuelled the last war. Their persistence means that the ending of the war and bringing of lasting peace remains an achievement both remarkable and fragile.
DARFUR: FERGAL KEANE
After the campaigns in Sierra Leone and Kosovo, Mr Blair found himself cast as the world's leading apostle of humanitarian intervention. But it was a role that became increasingly difficult to sustain in the later years of his premiership.
The tragedy of Darfur pitilessly exposed one of the central quandaries of British foreign policy early in the millennium: when faced with a brutal regime that retains significant sympathisers or allies, and a significant military capacity, no British prime minister can unilaterally enforce his will.
The Sudanese had powerful friends in China and Russia and could threaten the Western nations with the prospect of a guerrilla war in the arid wastes of Darfur.
The position Mr Blair found himself in is an inevitable consequence of the long decline of British power in the post-imperial age, but also of the dynamics created by participation in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
These foreign wars have sucked up military and political resources to a degree that effectively prohibits involvement in major interventions elsewhere around the globe.
In simple terms, Britain's prime minister did not have the military resources, the international clout or domestic support for any foreign military intervention that was not related to national interests.
As the death toll in Darfur rose Mr Blair found himself called on to act but had neither the power or means to do so with any significant effect.
British ministers would instead point to the deployment of African Union peacekeepers, though they knew soon enough that the small AU force was utterly incapable of establishing security.
For the major powers of the UN Security Council, Darfur has been another exercise in which the requirements of rhetoric have been met - but little beyond that.
ZIMBABWE: PETER BILES
In Harare in June 2001, I watched President Robert Mugabe lambast Tony Blair, during a speech at Heroes' Acre.
"Perhaps Tony Blair is too young to know anything about our colonial history," the Zimbabwean leader scornfully declared.
Over the years, Mr Mugabe has used every opportunity to spew verbal abuse at the Blair government. Once, he famously accused them of using "gay gangsters" against him.
Britain's ability to influence the situation in Zimbabwe has steadily diminished as Robert Mugabe has tightened his hold on power and used increasingly repressive measures to crack down on the opposition.
Tony Blair and his ministers continue to voice concern about the Zimbabwean government's human rights violations, but Mr Mugabe's critics know there is no point in trying to bully him or apply pressure.
"He always spits in their eye," said one diplomat.
The United Kingdom has given £150m ($300m) in humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe in the last seven years, and is supporting Zimbabwean civil society in monitoring human rights abuses and promoting good governance.
However, it is clear that Britain will only re-engage with the government in Harare once there is meaningful change, a return to the rule of law and an end to political violence.
LIBYA: JAMES ROBBINS
Without question, Tony Blair and - crucially - his foreign policy adviser, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, can take credit for bringing Libya in from the cold.
After the discovery that Colonel Gaddafi was trying to build a nuclear bomb, and getting secret supplies from the smuggling network run by Pakistan's AQ Khan, the regime in Tripoli was confronted with the evidence.
Tony Blair gave top priority to the project to coax Libya into full renunciation of any ambition to build nuclear weapons, putting Nigel Sheinwald in charge of secret talks to open the path.
Mr Blair and President Bush both badly needed a "penitent sinner" back in 2003 - to show there was a positive alternative to the invasion of Iraq - and Libya exactly fitted the bill.
Colonel Gaddafi could read the signs too, and accepted international rehabilitation as a prize.
It delivered for Libya hugely expanded trade and tourism after all the years as a pariah state.
Tony Blair's visit to Tripoli in March 2004 and his meeting with Colonel Gaddafi symbolized an extraordinary turning point in relations with one of the most troublesome regimes in North Africa and the Middle East.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/africa/6693055.stm

Published: 2007/05/30 11:58:51 GMT

© BBC MMVII

6. From The Times
May 2, 2007

The past decade a disaster? Don’t be so ridiculous


Peter Riddell: Political Briefing
Reputation is not the same as impact. Most of the comments on yesterday’s tenth anniversary of Tony Blair’s first election victory, many premature obituaries, have confused the two. Dislike of Mr Blair personally and of his record, particularly over Iraq, has led many to write him off as a failure. But he has unquestionably had a big, and probably lasting, influence on the British political landscape. Mr Blair is preparing to leave office at a low point in his standing, as will no doubt be confirmed in tomorrow’s elections. The Iraq war is obviously crucial, seen by 69 per cent as what Mr Blair will be most remembered for during this time as Prime Minister, according to a Communicate Research poll for The Independent – though 61 per cent still think that he has been a good prime minister.
Some assessments have been so vituperative and one-sided as to be ridiculous. It is nonsense to describe the past decade as a disaster for Britain and the economy. This is not to accept the hubristic picture offered by the Treasury. As always, the truth lies in between. There has been less volatility in economic growth and inflation, but the productivity performance has been weak and levels of personal debt are worrying. But, despite recent problems, we are a world away from the horrors of the 1970s.
Similarly, any analysis of the Blair record should acknowledge the evidence of improvements in health outcomes and school performance, the reductions in child and pensioner poverty, constitutional reform, Northern Ireland peace etc. Of course, there are blemishes and qualifications. As Mr Blair acknowledges, he was slow to develop a coherent programme for public service reform. And when he did, his political authority was undermined by Iraq. He did not fully capitalise on the big political opportunity that he was given by voters in 1997 and 2001.
But, even if you regard the Blair years as a disappointment, a story of too little too late, the terms of the political debate have been changed. The clearest evidence lies not in the Labour Party, which is, at best, only lukewarm Blairite, but in the Conservative Party. Both the election of David Cameron as party leader 18 months ago and everything that he has done since then are a tribute to Mr Blair. The Tory rebranding and the big-tent approach are a deliberate imitation of the new Labour strategy of the mid1990s.
More significantly, the Tories have largely accepted the fiscal and public service changes introduced since 1997. They are not proposing to reverse the big increases in spending, only to cut the rate of growth, while tax cuts, as opposed to changes in the tax structure, are played down. Similarly, there are no plans to abolish healthcare and schools that are free at the point of use, or state pensions. The main difference is a so far ill-defined Tory preference for a less intrusive and centralised State.
But, just as Blairism built on the economic and industrial relations changes of the Thatcher era, so the Cameron Tory party has so far accepted much of the policy framework of the Blair years. Mr Blair may be widely reviled at present, but his influence will long outlast his departure from office.