Tony Blair was “back centre stage” last week, says Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times, with a new political conference modestly dubbed Future of Britain. All it amounted to was “a reprise of 1990s Blairism with the word ‘technology’ dropped in every few sentences”. But it was precisely this brand of “messianic neoliberal evangelism” which spurred Blair to make his most disastrous mistakes when he was PM. One was deciding, “after a brief word with God, who naturally concurred”, to illegally invade Iraq. Blair was convinced that everyone in the world wanted liberal democracy. “Overthrow Saddam and the Iraqis will become friendly Jeffersonian democrats.” Instead, the country descended into sectarian chaos and murder.
The second was deregulating immigration – like the Iraq debacle, one of the “most disastrous decisions of any prime minister in living or dead memory”. The third was to set a target of 50% of school-leavers attending university. This has led to hundreds of thousands of young people who are near-unemployable and £45,000 in debt, “but proudly possessing a bachelor of arts degree in queer studies”. Now Blair insists the proportion should be 70%. Nobody agrees – not even his own son Euan, who rightly believes apprenticeships and workplace training are the answer and that his dad was, as he put it, “wrong”. Britain may be in a bad place right now, but surely not bad enough that we should listen to the architect of so much of our misfortune.