DURING lockdown I watched again the BBC coverage of the May 1997 general election. Not for the outcome, but rather as a time capsule of political life, because of what has changed so drastically since then, both in terms of issues and seats once considered safe.
However, it is that outcome that is the disappointing part to consider. Twenty-five years on, Blair’s landslide victory is undoubtedly one of the worst things to happen to Britain in its modern history, not only because it left our body politic rotten, but because so many of its consequences have left lasting damage to this day.
Blair’s government sent us into two wars which, regardless of their legality, were unnecessary and have made the problem of Islamic extremism worse in those areas, best seen with the quick takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan following Nato withdrawal and Iraq becoming a proxy for the Iranian regime.
In terms of immigration, his government turned what was once a minor issue – so much that in the 1997 general election both major parties gave it only a brief mention in their manifestos – into the biggest existential crisis facing Britain. Through many means, from abolishing the primary purpose rule, relaxing rules on asylum and opening the borders to both more foreign workers and Eastern Europe, the Blair years led the charge for the largest wave of mass immigration in British history – with some even seeming to brag about it, regardless of how unpopular it proved to be. On the one hand it was done for its alleged economic benefits, and on the other to undermine a traditional Britain much of the Blairites despised – best described when a former speechwriter admitted that the policy was done to ‘rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date’.
Our justice system is also in bad shape because of Blair. A neutral police force became a politically correct one after the government implemented the questionable recommendations of the Macpherson report. As a result people are arrested for edgy tweets and grooming gangs are ignored in case the police are regarded as racist. On top of this, rising crime rates were tackled by fiddling the statistics to hide how bad they actually were, all the while cracking down on civil liberties.
Blair allowed the managerial state to seize more power. Whether this came through giving more power to spin doctors such as Alastair Campbell to boss civil servants around, passing the Human Rights Act which made deporting illegal immigrants virtually impossible or installing a Supreme Court which has since undermined both Parliament and the monarchy over Brexit, Blair’s government expanded such a class in ways hitherto unseen in modern British history.
His government through devolution allowed for cynical careerists including Sadiq Khan and radical fanatics such as the Scottish National Party to gain powerful positions for which they are totally unqualified, as it also gave once fringe nationalist positions in those areas a mainstream voice. In short, it gave us the biggest threat to the union in its history.
All of this and so much more makes Blair one of the worst Prime Ministers in modern British history, not least of which because, as Peter Hitchens noted, he ‘ripped the spirit out of the country’. The Britain I and many others grew up in – nominally Christian, culturally homogeneous and proud and settled with itself and its history – was heavily undermined thanks to Blair, especially in many of our inner cities. At the start of Blair’s term, the old Britain could still be reflected in much of our culture mores. But the Britain of Grizzly Tales, Come Outside and Midsomer Murders was so diminished that by the end of his tenure, it had become the Britain of Skins, Fish Tank and The Jeremy Kyle Show – not least because of the underclass that came to prominence during the Blair years.
There’s no doubt then about Blair’s rotten legacy, undeservedly crowned with a knighthood earlier this year.
However, to make matters worse, the Conservative Party have done little to reverse his legacy. Instead, they have happily continued it.
They also started needless warfare in Libya, helping to turn that country into a failed state akin to Somalia, which openly practises slavery. They have continued mass immigration, signing us up to the UN Migration Pact that immigration hardline leaders such as former US President Donald Trump and Czech President Milos Zerman wanted nothing to do with. It did the most to curtail civil liberties in our lifetime, with the various Covid lockdowns coming at a major financial and moral cost as a result. The only parties to benefit were those of the managerial state, which the Conservative Party did little to quash. Even David Cameron’s promised ‘bonfire of the quangos’ led to 80 per cent of quango staff keeping their jobs. Meanwhile, the government wanted more devolution, whether it be directly elected mayors, Police and Crime Commissioners and even governors, essentially to turn Britain into a discount United States. None of this should come as a surprise, given that Cameron openly called himself the ‘heir to Blair’.
What makes this more frustrating is that the Blair legacy is not one the British public wants to continue, as every election and referendum decision since 2016 has decisively proved. People don’t want more Blairite leaders like Boris Johnson, whose poll numbers have plummeted partially for that reason. On the 2016 EU Referendum, Conservative MP John Hayes noted that a Leave vote would ‘finally bring down the curtain on the Blair Era’. It is about time that we did so.