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October 26, 2015

Comments

Bob

"decent productivity growth and introduction of tax credits."
Many of the productivity "growth" was in the finance sector. It was an illusion. Tax credits are far better than nothing but still not the best of way of solving poverty. They are a subsidiary to corporates.

Ben

Tax credits were a disaster. Blair was responsible for the 2008 crisis in the UK (he was PM not Brown for most of it and yes Brown was hopeless too).

It's not growth it's land price ramping.

TowerBridge

In the words of Inception and following from your previous blog entry (the reference will become clear for the latter) I think to answer this one you need to go deeper.

There are no two Blairs but equally I think you are wrong to say Mr Blair had an excessive faith in intelligence. I think this is his lousy excuse and on your part, a misdiagnosis. I have read his "apology". It is no such thing. What he seeks to do is blame someone else.

But this is not surprising. He cannot, at any cost, take responsibility for being wrong. That would destroy his fragile personality, developed whilst taken away from his parents and sent to boarding school (Fettes College) (Freud, like Marx, is still relevant today). This is key to understanding his decision-making processes. He continually stands in awe of power and authority - hence his devotion to the queen and subservience to Bush but has a bit of a rebellious side, which is why I think he chose the Labour party. When his personality is threatened he seeks, much like Cameron did with Angela Eagle, to project his problems onto someone else ("I'm not the one who is wrong...he is").

His belief that a leader is to control not contribute is a mark of his privileged upbringing. One is born to rule over the minions, after all. Which is why he will/did plough on taking the country down an obviously terrible trajectory even when almost everyone is/was against him. He couldn't see his mistake as he was so absorbed in his own righteousness and rationality.

And yet we go on electing such obviously incapable leaders.

nick ford

While this is interesting and insightful, I would suggest that Chris is overly complicating why Blair made the mistakes he did in Iraq, because other leaders (Bush at the time, and subsequently Obama and Cameron) have made very similar mistakes in Syria and Libya and Ukraine, and they are not likely to have the same personality characteristics Chris describes Blair as having. Further, we might note that many other politicians, commentators and policy advisors backed Blair's judgement at the time.
A simpler explanation of Blair's mistakes in both Iraq and Afghanistan is that he, and many others, failed to appreciate the complex nature of these countries, whose peoples have multiple allegiances based on language, religion, tribe, nationality, political party and other factors. They also failed to heed various lessons of history. One of these is that the consequences of revolution are unpredictable, and frequently lead to prolonged and chaotic civil war with multiple changes of government, and outside interference by neighbouring governments.
Another is that living under a tyranny is generally better for people than living in anarchy. Another, that most successful democratic regimes that respect human rights have evolved, rather than having been externally imposed.
This lack of appreciation of the uncertain consequences of intervention, combined with a wish to be seen to act on the world stage, and succumbing to pressure from the media to 'do something', seems to have caused many western politicians to make similar mistakes.

Nanikore

Although Blair obviously did not cause the global 2008 financial crisis - his policies of 'light touch' regulation left the country very exposed to it.

Blair was a waste. He was a brilliant politician. Like Clinton, give him the right policy advice, and he could get it through.

The problem was that he was given the wrong advice. Foreign policy and economic. And he got it through.

The real root cause of the economic orthodoxy behind the economic advice (which somehow pushed for liberal capital, goods and labour markets, but with a liberal social policy which aimed, not to keep people in work,but to have a minimum welfare safety net) was the education system, including education in economics.

BCFG

The trail from a rise in food banks to Blair is a short one.

Blair's apology was the classic apology of all the Iraq war apologists, speedy is a classic example of this.

If only they had planned better things would have turned out oh so differently. It is bollocks of course.

Blair should be put on trial for mass murder and given the appropriate punishment. The fact he stalks the Earth enriching himself is an indictment on Britain.

It is an insult to humanity that this man is walking free, it is an insult that he walks!

UnlearningEcon

Not sure how clear the intelligence was about Iraq - in many cases it contradicted Bush/Blair's narrative, but they went ahead anyway...

Guano

I don't know where you get the idea that Blair had an "excessive faith in intelligence", but the other points are reasonable. Blair had a bit of an obsession about modernity and "being on the right side of history". This led to a starry-eyed belief in globalisation with a leading role for the USA. This in turn led to a belief that many members of his own party (who distrusted globalisation and the USA) "didn't get it". And this also led to a belief that things like international law were no longer relevant, and that the private sector could reform public services.

This isn't evidence-based or derived from intelligence. It is a belief in the direction of history that involves ignoring evidence that doesn't support this teleological worldview.

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