I have no strong feelings about the European Union; I am not particularly in favour of the EU but nor do a suffer from the visceral hatred that some of the Conservative party appear to have. This hatred has seen the last three Conservative Prime Ministers brought down by divisions over Europe and it will almost certainly see off a fourth, probably by the end of this year. If I was still living in the UK, I would probably have voted to remain in the EU, seeing the status quo as the least worst option. In that I am rather like Jeremy Corbyn who appeared to abandon his lifelong opposition to the EU; Corbyn claimed he was “seven out of ten” in favour of the EU – this despite being a follower of Tony Benn, who “loathed” the EU and as a Cabinet Minister campaigned for a “No” vote in the 1975 Referendum. However, despite not sharing the intense dislike for all things EU on the Labour left and Conservative right, I am mystified by the insane Europhilia evidenced in all mainstream parties – the Scottish Nazis, the Illiberal Undemocrats, the Conservatives and Labour. And no more insane Europhile exists than the war criminal himself, Tony Blair.
Such is the hostility that is felt for Blair across the UK in 2017, it is sometimes hard to remember just how popular he was back in the 1990s. The imperious Margaret Thatcher had defeated Labour three times, twice with three figure majorities. Her nonentity successor John Major won an against-the-odds victory against Neil Kinnock in 1992. There was talk after the 1992 election that Labour would never be in government again. But the Conservatives were shattered by the events of Black Wednesday in September 1992 and spent the next four and a half years in a civil war over Europe. Major, a decent man but an over-promoted second-rater, could not hold the Conservatives together and I think even he was glad when Blair defeated him in 1997. And don’t forget, Blair went on to win a second landslide in 2001 and a healthy majority of 66 in 2005.
Tony Blair could have been a great Prime Minister. He did some great things – the minimum wage and keeping the UK out of the poorly-designed Euro spring to mind. But he made three key mistakes that have poisoned British politics since he left office. Blair pursued an immigration policy that neither the UK’s infrastructure or population were ready for; he allowed free movement of labour from 2004 EU-accession countries seven years before the rest of Europe; and, most fatally of all, he decided to intervened in the Middle East alongside the most ideologically-driven, right wing president in US history.
As an immigrant myself, I am not opposed to immigration. I’m not even opposed to mass immigration that will send the UK’s population up to 80million+ if there was proper planning and preparation. However, Blair simply did not plan for the scale of both non-EU and EU immigration into the UK. Pursuing ideological multiculturalism whilst bringing in low skilled immigrants who will inevitably press down the wages of the lowest paid is not the way to create a harmonious society. And screaming that all opposition to your ill-thought through plans is a racist is contemptible.
A great many people opposed Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq back in 2003. The chief reason proffered was that the invasion was against “international law.” This is an even more nebulous concept than the “international community” that the BBC and the Guardian are so fond of evoking. Any opinion on international law can usually be countered by another from a different lawyer; the precedents in international law are even more opaque than those in English common law. Plenty of people in 2003 pointed out that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would not lead to democracy and human rights in Iraq (just as overthrowing Colonel Gadhafi in Libya in 2012 did not). The current problems in the Middle East were not caused by the invasion of 2003 but the invasion certainly made those problems a lot worse.
Tony Blair left Downing Street in 2007 a hated man. His subsequent money-making ventures and the implosion of Iraq has rendered him persona non grata to most people in the UK. But as far as Blair is concerned, it is still Friday 2nd May 1997 and he is the people’s champion. Nothing else except the hubris that led him along the road to Baghdad can explain his latest intervention in British politics.
Blair seems to think that Britain’s exit from the EU can be stopped. One cannot ignore the wishes of 48% of the population says the Messiah. This begs the question as to whether one can safely ignore the wishes of 52% of the population. Blair doesn’t seem to realise that every time he intervenes in the debate, a few thousand more people move over to the “Leave” side. He did make one good point though – if the EU was willing to make concessions on freedom of movement then Brexit can be stopped. This is exactly what David Cameron tried to get before the vote in 2016. If Juncker, Tusk, Merkel and the rest of the political pygmies currently running the EU had given Cameron some concessions on free movement and benefits then we wouldn’t be in this mess now.
Blair was outdone in idiocy though by the former leader of Illiberal Undemocrats, Nick Clegg. Clegg says that not only should there be a second Referendum but that people who are under 30 should have their votes counted twice. Unbelievable. So desperate is Clegg to stay in his beloved EU that he is prepared to overturn more than two millennia of democratic rights and support something that the Chartists and other radical 19th century reformers were so keen to abolish. Don’t forget, Clegg started his political career as a member of the EU parliament, an institution that even Jean-Claude Juncker has called “ridiculous.”
When the whole British Establishment are in favour of something then you know something fishy is going on. Clegg is looking for something, anything, to resurrect his failed political career. I’m quite sure Tony Blair is still hankering after an executive EU presidency for himself. I think the vote to leave the EU was probably a mistake but I think the best thing to do now is get on with leaving. If the absurd Theresa May cannot deliver her “hard Brexit” then perhaps long-term Euro-sceptic Jeremy Corbyn can bring us a “red Brexit.” But I won’t hold my breath as half the Labour party want to stay in too.