A British video celebrating the departure of Tony Blair.
Background to the video is here.
By Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in British daily The Independent:
We must never forget the damage Blair has done
This country has lost all moral authority. It looks deceitful and corrupt
Published: 25 June 2007 …
She did much wrong, but a chorus of disapproving battlers always exposed her crimes. Blair got away with worse because fewer opposed him. For many years, those who should have held him back from his impulses and excesses were too in awe of his powerful image, too grateful to him personally for the New Labour victory, too susceptible to the charm he turned on with such alarming ease. And we – black and Asian Britons – genuflected even more humbly before this messiah come to deliver us from the horrid Tories. I confess I was one of them for a while. Until reality came along like a slap across the face.
When Blair came into power, Britons seemed to be at ease with racial difference, and, believe it or not, with immigration, in spite of Thatcher’s xenophobic presence. Britishness itself was finally changing and opening up to its many-hued citizens, too long kept at the fringes. The Stephen Lawrence inquiry (one of a few admirable New Labour race initiatives) made white Britain wake up to the evil of racism. The BNP was moribund, and an NOP survey I had commissioned for the Institute for Public Policy Research, and another larger poll by Mori, found immigration and race were low on the list of anxieties for the electorate.
After the first term, our society shifted into unseemly pride, dangerous fragmentation and unwarranted paranoia. The Leader promoted imperial fantasies while embracing reassuring black people such as Trevor Phillips. Coalitions of activists disintegrated, and with encouragement from politicians, each sub-group now competed to be the most oppressed, Muslims in particular. Before Blair there was no Islamophobia, only racism. The left supported immigration and abhorred the victimisation of incomers. Now these comrades became the enemies of migration. The alchemist Blair mixed right-wing populism with left-wing platitudes; rabid capitalism with moral purpose; illiberalism with patriotic posturing, religious fervour with global politics, expediency with ethics. The people swallowed the potent mix and were ecstatic – until the Iraq war, when most woke from the trance.
As he leaves though, the old vapours intoxicate the nation once more. Blair presents himself as a noble, steadfast leader, too good for his people and the feral press [see also Cherie Blair on that], a tragic Christian figure whose one unpopular decision wiped away the extraordinary record he leaves which one day we will truly appreciate. He stoops to conquer our misgivings and cynicism. Don’t let him.
He has broken up our nation. Under his tent we squabble and terrorise each other. The divisions have deepened between black and white Britons; between peoples of various faiths, between them and atheists, the rich and poor, devolved nations, settled folk and migrants, children and society, the powerful and powerless citizens, town and country, the EU and us, the Middle East and us. Go on, add others to the list.
And then there is Iraq, our undying shame. The impenitent PM claims the illegal adventure would have been another jewel in his crown if only the post-war chaos had been better managed by the US. He claimed he had no choice. But he did. European nations did, and most chose to do the right thing. More than 700,000 Iraqis so far have been killed because our divinely inspired PM worships the US, had to punish Arabs – any Arabs – for the acts of 11 September, and still believes the massacred innocents on the killing fields of Iraq die for the best cause ever. That position has lost this country any moral authority in world affairs and left us looking deceitful and corrupt.
Even in the build-up to the fight against British imperialism, when subject nations knew the perfidious cunning of Albion, the reputation of this country was upheld by its most vocal detractors. Blair has taken us as low as we can go. Brown let him. Now the new PM expects to break from the ignoble decade and raise us up with resonant words. The desperate nation is once more vulnerable to the bringer of good hope. Careful now, hold back, stay alert and don’t be swept away this time. Blair never learnt any lessons, but we must.
British Tories, New Labourites, and racism: here.