I’ve just finished listening to Tony Blair’s book, A Journey: My Political Life, whispered into my ear by Tony himself. I’ve been listening to more audiobooks than reading real books for the last year or so. It’s easier to do on the metro than to read a real book, or try and use one of those new-fangled ebook readers. Although I can see the appeal of the Kindle.
I don’t particularly dislike Tony Blair, despite the little incident he had in Iraq, which seems to have set almost every living person in the UK against him. Bizarre, really. In the run up to the war, the citizens of the UK were, albeit by a small majority, in favour of invading Iraq. I know, there were the mass demonstrations. Somewhere in the region of 750,000 to 1,000,000 on the streets.
But then there are the silent majority, and you have to count those guys too. How do you count silent majorities? Well, the sole UK tabloid to take an anti-war stance before hostilities began lost a huge chunk of its readership. Then there were the polls. It’s Kennedy Syndrome. After the fact, everyone voted for Kennedy, apparently. The election results beg to differ.
Was I for the invasion of Iraq? There’s nothing wrong in theory with getting rid of a tyrant. And I think people who quote the number of casualties since the war forget, conveniently, the number of deaths between the end of Gulf War I and Return of the Bush. If done right, with minimal casualties, with a speedy exit…I was all for it. On the other hand, if it involved a prolonged stay, a bloodbath and a destabilised region….well. Less keen. There’s nothing wrong with sitting on the fence, so long as you have a comfy cushion. I was never under any impression other than the fact I was a spectator anyway.
I voted for Blair once. Really, he’s well to the right of me as far as ideology goes. I recognise the difference though, in what I want to happen, and what is realistically possible. I wouldn’t inflict half of my socialist ideologies on the population of the UK if I were in a position to. The UK is one cog in a global treadmill, and you have to work within the constraints of that treadmill. Getting off isn’t an option, although given that the treadmill is still rolling along the edge of an abyss, getting off is a tempting thought.
The book itself reveals no great surprises. No massive controversy. Nothing more than a few raised eyebrows really. There is of course a huge, continual dig at Gordon Brown from beginning to end. Blair isn’t a liar per se. I don’t think so anyway. He’s just ‘got a way with words’. I bet even now, months after Brown’s defeat in the 2010 General Election, Blair’s neighbours can still hear him gut laughing himself to sleep every night. Oh the luck of it. He leaves, is replaced by his nemesis, Chancellor Brown, and within months the world economy, Brown’s forte, collapses. But back to the book. It was an interesting enough read. Or listen. More for the walk down memory lane that Tony treated me to.
I voted for John Major in 1992 and 1997. In 2001 I abstained. I couldn’t bring myself to vote Labour, even New Labour, largely because of Brown’s economic policy. But the Conservatives had swung so far to the right, they were utterly unelectable. It’s been a repeating fashion in the almost 30 years I’ve been conscious of British politics. The electorate generally bring in whoever is closest to centre. And the defeated party will reel in shock, decide they need to reinvent themselves, to differentiate from the party in power, and take an extreme position either left or right.
That pretty much guarantees defeat next time out too. That’s why I voted for Blair in 2005. Not in a million years would I have cast a vote for Michael Howard. Right wing? Yes. A Wing Nut too. And it’s why I almost certainly won’t vote Labour at the next election. Their immediate response was to bring in Ed Milliband as leader….they’re swinging hard to the left. Predictable. Normally suicidal, but what with the economy being what it is, anything could happen.
You might think that’s where I am, on the left. If you look at the chart though on my previous post, I’m bottom left. Milliband is top left. Cameron and the conservatives are bottom right. Hmmmmm…..centr-ish right. Neither are in my block. I have a hard choice to make. Do I go for the party that appeals to my libertarian sensibilities, or socialist sensibilities. Although I wouldn’t really regard myself as socialist, you know.
As for the last election. I abstained again. I’d have liked to vote. The election is supposed to give one an opportunity to be heard. So where was the box ‘None of the above’? That would have been my option. I appreciate that sometimes, usually, you have to vote for the party that is least worst, which is why Obama may yet get a second term in the US, and why the PRI may field the winning candidate in the Mexican presidential election in 2012, but I won’t vote for a party or leader that I have no faith in. There was 0% chance I’d vote for Gordon Brown. He has many talents, genuine talents. But none make up for the fact that he’s an indecisive imbecile incapable of leadership.