Bye-Bye Blair ¦ Political Legacies

Byeblair So, after the worst kept secret in politics, Blair has finally announced he will be leaving office on 27th June after just over 10 years in power.

When he swept to victory on the back of huge optimism about left-leaning government coming in after 18 years or so of Conservative power, the theme tune the party chose was "Things can only get better". There was some terrible dancing on show. (Footballers and politicians, eh? Neither of them know how to dance when they win.) Anyway, on the actual day of his decade, a radio station asked listeners to text in to suggest what song would be appropriate for his going. Overwhelmingly the choice was, again, "Things can only get better."

It has, in other words, been a desperately disappointing ten years. Why? The Iraq debacle would be a simple answer, but I think the real reason underlying even that is the issue of spin and media control.

Blair has presided over the years of media revolution: digital tv and radio, broadband, ubiquitous mobile technology. And thus there is little irony in him being the most media-savvy and slippery of Prime Ministers.

The Iraq war wasn’t just about the error of going in, it was about the deliberate mis-leading of the country over information.

This, I fear will be part of Blair’s lasting legacy: an almost complete distrust of politics and politicians. If Gordon Brown is to succeed in office, he will have to think very carefully about how he might begin to restore that trust. Indeed, this is a task that is going to require huge cross-party support and work. Somehow an agreement needs to be worked out to exorcise the demon of Alistair Campbell which still haunts 10 Downing Street.