A strange experience: watching Tony Blair announce his retirement as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour party the other evening, I felt quite sorry for him. I have distrusted him since the day I clapped eyes on him, and my opinion of him has only fallen since. Yet, watching him make his little speech, he seemed to be feeling genuine contrition and to finally recognise that we really don’t like him. As Mark Steel put it several years back, if he is the most popular Prime Minister we have ever had, then he must be the most unpopular most popular Prime Minister we have ever had too.
Yet we should not be too easy on him even now. I thought Margaret Thatcher raised the untrustworthiness of British governments to new heights, but New labour, with its interminable spinning, disingenuousness, image control, endless announcements of the same resources as though they were new each time, and utter lack of either genuine political vision or intellectual substance has discredited the political process to the point where I simply do not believe a word they are saying. What worse thing, short of a coup, capability they have done to what limited democracy our ludicrous Parliamentary offers?
And Mr Tony’s legendary (or is that ‘imaginary’) sincerity only made things worse. After five years with Thatcher I was literally unable to hear her vile voice without turning off the radio, and Blair came quite close. Still, he looked genuine enough the other night. Or perhaps I just couldn’t think of anything he could be lying about. What a dreadful epitaph.
And what comes next? Gordon Brown. Oh dear. Six months ago I really thought Labour could not elect such a person, but it looks all but inevitable. I wonder how soon it will be before I am reduced to voting Liberal Democrat? Can Gordon imagine what it costs me to say that?