Friday, 10 April 2015

Minus Iraq, Blair did well - Labour must trumpet the progress he made

It was recently announced that Blair will be helping Labour in their 2015 election campaign. Of course, there was the usual flood of 'warmonger' in anything related to that story and many people - even I - thought it was a poor tactical decision.

However, now Labour have made the decision, we must focus on what Blair did right and what Miliband will do right (which Blair supports). Yes, Iraq was a massive mistake - but we can't forget everything else that Blair did as a result. He:
  • '[The Government] turned out to be the most redistributive in decades'
  • Increased child benefit and income support by 72% (in real terms)
  • Gave grants to improve insulation
  • Caused child poverty to halve:
  • Extended maternity pay
  • Increased child benefit //
  • Introduced the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly after referendums
  • Resolved the crisis in Northern Ireland - with a very balanced Northern Irish Assembly being created as a result
  • Made the Bank of England independant
  • Removed most hereditary peers from the Lords
  • Created the position of London Mayor and created the Greater London Authority
  • Equalised the age of consent for gay sex with heterosexual sex
  • Created civil partnerships
  • Introduced new employment rights
  • Introduced the National Minimum Wage - against Tory cries that it would increase unemployment and inflation
  • Increased spending on education and health (after increasing taxes to pay for it)
  • Won the London 2012 Olympics bid - presence of Blair at IOC session credited for the win
When Labour face criticism about Blair's record, they must demonstrate that, even though Blair is on the Labour campaign trail, Labour have changed their stance on foreign policy proved by Miliband's opposition of an invasion in Syria previously. Miliband recognized that Britain doesn't always have to agree with the US on foreign policy and should get authorization from the UN on military issues.

The Iraq War was, by far, the biggest mistake of the Blair administration. As was the relative inactivity of Blair's second and third governments in passing legislation (although it did block the Tories from getting into power and reversing the progress made). Labour have many, many policy ideas however and would make sure that the next Labour government(s) is/are active in promoting change.

On the whole, however, the Blair government did a lot for the UK and Labour must remind the public about all the amazing things he did.

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