UK: Buh Bye Tony Blair, by Tariq Ali

By Tariq Ali in British daily The Guardian:

Famed as a favourite attack dog in the imperial kennel

Blair‘s first loyalty was to the White House.

The result has been a legacy of hatred that ultimately ended his premiership

Friday May 11, 2007

The departure, too, was spun in classic New Labour, Dear Leader fashion.

A carefully selected audience, a self-serving speech, the quivering lip and soon the dramaturgy was over.

He had arrived at No 10 with a carefully orchestrated display of union flags.

Patriotic fervour was also on show yesterday, with references to “this blessed country … the greatest country in the world” – no mention of the McDonald’s, Starbucks, Benetton that adorn every high street – nor of how Britain under his watch came to be seen in the rest of the world: a favourite attack dog in the imperial kennel.

Tony Blair’s principal success was in winning three general elections in a row.

A second-rate actor, he turned out to be a crafty and avaricious politician.

Bereft of ideas, he eagerly grasped and tried to improve on Margaret Thatcher’s legacy.

But though in many ways Blair’s programme has been a euphemistic, if bloodier, version of Thatcher’s, the style of their departures is very different.

Thatcher’s overthrow by her fellow Conservatives was a matter of high drama.

Blair makes his unwilling exit against a backdrop of car bombs and carnage in Iraq, with hundreds of thousands left dead or maimed from his policies, and London a prime target for terrorist attack.

Thatcher’s supporters described themselves afterwards as horror-struck by what they had done.

Even some of Blair’s greatest sycophants in the media confess to a sense of relief as he finally quits.

Blair was always loyal to the occupants of the White House.

In Europe he preferred Aznar to Zapatero, Merkel to Schröder, was seriously impressed by Berlusconi and, most recently, made no secret of his support for Sarkozy.

He understood that privatisation and deregulation at home were part of the same mechanism as wars abroad.

If this judgment seems unduly harsh, let me quote Rodric Braithwaite, a former senior adviser to [Prime Minister John Major], writing in the Financial Times on August 2 2006: “A spectre is stalking British television, a frayed and waxy zombie straight from Madame Tussaud’s.

This one, unusually, seems to live and breathe. Perhaps it comes from the CIA’s box of technical tricks, programmed to spout the language of the White House in an artificial English accent …

Mr Blair has done more damage to British interests in the Middle East than Anthony Eden, who led the UK to disaster in Suez 50 years ago.

In the past 100 years we have bombed and occupied Egypt and Iraq, put down an Arab uprising in Palestine and overthrown governments in Iran, Iraq and the Gulf.

We can no longer do these things on our own, so we do them with the Americans.

Mr Blair’s total identification with the White House has destroyed his influence in Washington, Europe and the Middle East itself: who bothers with the monkey if he can go straight to the organ-grinder?”

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