The most boring general election in living memory is less than a week old and the feeling is that a great many voters are sick of it already. The fact that it is the fourth major vote in four years may be responsible. Or perhaps voters are less than inspired by the choice between Jeremy “Lenin’s granddad” Corbyn and Theresa “I hid behind the sofa during the referendum” May. Just when the campaign couldn’t seem to get any worse, up pops the most hated and most deluded man in British politics, Tony Blair.
It’s hard to remember just how popular Blair was back in the 1990s. After their surprise win in 1992, John Major’s Conservatives destroyed their reputation for economic competence – the reason for their victory against Neil Kinnock’s Labour – on Black Wednesday. Blair used to endlessly torment Major at Prime Minister’s Questions and his victory in 1997 was as much a relief to Major as to the rest of the country. Blair not only won big in 1997 – a 179 seat majority – but repeated the feat against William Hague in 2001. But, as we all know, these victories went to Blair’s head and he decided to jump into bed with an extremely right-wing US president and join him in his crazy wars in the Middle East. I’m pretty sure that for most people the first word they think of when they hear Blair’s name is “Iraq.”
But for Blair it is forever that day in May 1997. I don’t think he realises just how unpopular he is – I’m quite sure that every time he spoke during the referendum campaign, an extra few thousand people decided to vote “Leave.” And his arrogant assumption that he will be able to turn around the 2017 election singlehandedly is just sad.
I’ve noticed too that, unlike in his heyday, Blair is increasingly tetchy when interviewed. Any opponent would be able to make use of this. There was a Senator in the Roman Republic called Cato the Elder who would end his every speech, on whatever the subject, with the words “I think this and I also think that Carthage must be destroyed.” (Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam). Every time Blair speaks, I think his opponent or the person interviewing him should ask “Have you found those weapons of mass destruction yet?” And after every answer to a question when appearing with Blair, his interlocutors should end with the statement, “I think this and I also think Tony Blair should be reported to the International Criminal Court for his war crimes.” If nothing else, it would be a good laugh.
In other news, I see that the good people of France have decided to elect an ex-banker as their next president. The idea that Emmanuel Macron is the man to reform both France and the European Union is a joke. The man is Establishment through and through – just like Tony Blair. I think Marine Le Pen has her eye on the election of 2022. In five years time she will be only 53 and will be able to point to failed presidencies of the right (Sarkozy 2007-2012), the left (Hollande 2012-2017 and the centre (Macron 2017-2022). Hopefully Jean-Luc Melenchon will stand again in 2022 (he will be 70, the same age as Donald Trump when he was elected to the US presidency) and will be able to stop Le Pen.