Elliott Mills ponders whether Tony Blair deserves a second chance in UK politics
Everyone’s favourite political figure (the one accused of war crimes) is back! Well, I say he is everyone’s favourite, but then I have always had a soft spot for genocidal military leader Ratko Mladić — mainly for his stand-up comedy. Tony is not here to make jokes though, far from it. He is currently on a mission to weld back together the two parts of his person, which have lately been split between being a corporate venture and being a Twitter meme, so that he may once more engage in political debate.
Expressed in a recent interview with the New Statesman, one of Blair’s current worries is that Labour has been “captured by the far left,” and further, he still holds that Corbyn is both incorrect in his political convictions and unelectable. And indeed because of this, when he has not spending his time amassing a property portfolio worth around £27 million, Blair has been concerned that the centre-left, or progressive centre, has been made ‘politically homeless’.
When the news began to spread that Blair was likely to make some kind of return to the public sphere, there was the vague rumour flying around that he wished to head back into frontline politics. This came simultaneously with it being alleged — in what closely resembles the slurred comments which might emerge eight pints deep into a heavy sesh — that he had called Theresa May a ‘lightweight’ and Jeremy Corbyn a ‘nutter’.
Blair has since denied both that he wishes to return to frontline politics and that he made such comments about either May or Corbyn. Regarding the latter, Blair said, “I don’t think he’s a nutter. I just think he is someone on the far left of politics and he’s been consistent for the last 35 years that I’ve known him, which is fine.” The ‘fine’ of that statement, however, seems to suggest the same kind of meaning as when Cherie Blair replies ‘nothing, I’m fine’ after Tony has come back from the aforementioned heavy drinking session — during which he vomited on his new shirt, rashly decided to get rid of his business networks, and get back into the political game — and asked his wife: ‘What’s wrong Cherie?’
For indeed, Blair is closing his business enterprises that fall under his office Tony Blair Associates in order to focus time and direct reserves into non-profit charity work. This is all very well, but even with the view to engage in non-profit work, many cannot completely look past Blair’s previous commitment to corporate interests. This is similar to how being a Middle East peace envoy could not encourage everyone to forget his previous commitment to invading the Middle East, or the fact that he was being paid by PetroSaudi to lobby the Chinese government at the same time.
So he has a past, but don’t we all? Remember when Pope Benedict XVI was in Hitler Youth? Hell, even the Queen did a Nazi salute when she was a little cheeky cherub, but because she made a change, knuckled down and, most importantly, continued to exist, she was able to become our monarch.
Can the second chance similarly be offered to our dear Tony? For some, Blair is too much tainted with the stains of the Iraq war and financial deregulation. They no longer respect him; the Chilcot Inquiry did not suddenly resolve matters, and raking in the cash across the globe in the interim has not made him more likeable. Furthermore, many no longer trust him, and it doesn’t help that he now looks uncannily like an unflattering waxwork model of himself.
The issue of whether Blair lied or not seems to have a habit of coming back to life time, and was again debated in the House of Commons recently. And for those of you who may have been feeling inexplicably French of late, it is no doubt down to experiences of déjà-vu, déjà-lu and déjà-entendu. The motion was voted on last Wednesday by the current MPs as to whether Blair misled the then-MPs in 2003, and despite rhyming, the motion was not carried. In fact, 369 votes stood between Blair and the brutal investigation chair they were presumably going to place him in. Far more brutal than the Chilcot chair I am told, designed with an at best moderate attention to ergonomics, offering little to no lumbar support.
This was a disappointment to the SNPs, whose motion, it seems, had drifted melancholically out of the halls of Parliament, taking the form of an Alex Salmond fart caught by the gentle through draught and lifted out into the fading light of a cold Westminster afternoon.
And as the shadows grow, a figure re-emerges, for the millionth time. A step closer to mending his split personae and forging in his soul an uncreated political conscience, it is Tony… Blair.