Cedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 7811 posts, RR: 54 Posted (12 years 2 months 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 710 times:
Interesting to see people's opinions of Bush, and also on that thread and the one about the UK's support for a Palestinian state - especially the stuff about British PM Tony Blair. I'm really curious to know how much coverage Blair is getting in the media outside the UK, how he is received and what people make of the man (having heard little about him, presumably, before 9/11/01). The British press love to portray the UK as an important nation on the world stage (it rarely is, in reality) - mourning the Empire no doubt. Seems different this time, Blair's certainly clocking up a lot of airmiles.
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
Mcdougald From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 3, posted (12 years 2 months 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 675 times:
Blair is a man with some definite skills. He deserves credit, along with Peter Mandelson (spelling correct?), for having turned around a Labour Party that was in trouble for a number of years.
Policy-wise, he has performed decently. Giving the Bank of England greater autonomy was a good move -- and a surprising one at the time for a nominally socialist government. This was driven home a few months ago when The Economist magazine, for the first time in a generation, endorsed Labour in the 2001 British election instead of their usual preference, the Conservatives.
If he plays his cards wisely, the next few years should be fairly easy ones for Blair. He keeps his government well-disciplined, and he faces a weak Conservative opposition in danger of resorting to the same infighting and shrill ideological rhetoric that made Labour unelectable in the Thatcher era.
But, as I mentioned in the Bush thread, he's way too slick. In many ways, he's a British equivalent of Bill Clinton (minus the sex scandals, so far) with his smooth manner, tendency to speak in sound bites and obvious stage-handling geared around the needs of the television networks. It raises suspicions that he might be shallow and opportunistic.
Scotty From UK - Scotland, joined Dec 1999, 1875 posts, RR: 3 Reply 7, posted (12 years 2 months 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 649 times:
No Messianic worship please.
He is a control freak who surrounds himself with Ministers who are only marginally competent (Brown and possibly Straw the current exceptions) so as not to represent too much of a challenge. He relies on the advice of his own "politburo" of advisers and spin doctors rather than on the Civil Service. On that basis, he is probably just what the UK needs at the moment, since there is no effective opposition anyway and the Civil Service still behave like they did under the Tories. But he sometimes makes errrors of judgement and like many of his predecessors, he doesn't understand whats going on in the UK (not just England) beyond the M25, even though he is Scottish (something which he tries hard to avoid acknowledging) and represents a North East England constituency (which he rarely visits nowadays)
But he's the best of a poor lot. I hereby damn him with faint praise.
Mcdougald From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 8, posted (12 years 2 months 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 640 times:
Scotty wrote: "He is a control freak who surrounds himself..."
Agreed. Apparently there have been quiet hints and even complaints from some Labour backbenchers over the years that there are two Tony Blairs: the charming, made-for-TV Prime Minister who many have been impressed with above; and the behind-closed-doors autocrat who (as you mentioned) is reliant on a small inner circle, pays little attention to his caucus and whom few dare annoy for fear of the consequences to their political careers.
In some senses, he is following the path of Pierre Trudeau, the longtime Canadian PM (1968-79 and 1980-84) who centralised power within his own personal staff and even went as far as to openly suggest that MPs are 'nobodies' once they get more than 50 feet from Parliament. Trudeau's successors left this arrangement in place, with Parliament playing a bit role in decision-making.
Paulc From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1490 posts, RR: 0 Reply 9, posted (12 years 2 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 638 times:
well said scotty
I would not trust blair as far as I could throw him - he is keen to give up or ignore all things British especially our currency. He surrounds himself with "yes" men (women) and with a weak opposition we are in living in a near dictatorship. We have a scottish parliament and a welsh assembly - when can we have an English equivalent to look after the interests of the English.
Scotty From UK - Scotland, joined Dec 1999, 1875 posts, RR: 3 Reply 10, posted (12 years 2 months 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 630 times:
As a Scot and longtime supporter of devolution, I agree with you - why should Scots MPs get to vote on Engish matters? The job is only half done to appease the Labour fiefdoms in Wales and Scotland and to head off the ScotNats. My solution? The Commons becomes Englands Parliament and the Lords is abolished to be replaced by an elected UK upper house.
GDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 12968 posts, RR: 79 Reply 15, posted (12 years 2 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 614 times:
Blair for many is a bit of an emigma. He became Labour leader in 1994, two years after they narrowly lost an election they should have walked.
Blair, with Gordon Brown, set about a massive root-and-branch reform of Labour. Ironically, given the in-fighting, sleaze and incompetance of the Conservatives, it was probably not as necessary as it first appeared.
But here's the rub, many on the Labour left thought that 'New Labour' was a cosmetic exercise, but Blair really meant it.
With his massive majority in the 1997 election, Blair's plan for close links with the Liberal Democrats were scuppered.
Blair thinks, rightly IMHO, that the Conservatives had dominated 20th century British politics because the there were two centre-left UK parties, thus splitting the vote. The Liberals have been the third party, way behind the other two, since the 1920's.
In truth, Blair is a Social Democrat, rather than a democratic socalist like much of Labour.
But Blair saw how Thatcher was allowed to run rampant as Labour lurched well to the left in the 1980's.
Born in 1953, his Conservative father prospered and sent his son to a Scottish public school, which apparently Blair hated.
He did a lot a acting at school, which shows today.
In 1977, he started a legal career, where he met his wife. She was a much more active Labour member than him.
She failed to win a seat in 1983, Tony did.
He rose quickly in opposition, with his friend the current Chancellor Gordon Brown, who came from a more traditional Labour background.
In 1994, the two apparently did a deal, Blair would contest the leadership Brown had long coveted. They both knew that Blair was more acceptable to the English, than the Scot Brown, with his dour manner and workaholic tendancies. But as Chancellor, Brown has an unprecedented level of power in goverment.
Blair is often attacked for his soundbites, but when a major crisis, he comes into his own.
With a second landslide this year, admittedly on a low turnout, Blair's challenge is to reform and improve the UK's long-neglected public services and infrastructure. Brits like their NHS, and other services, but seem unwilling to pay for the levels of service they desire.
Blair has to square this circle, massive spending increases are coming on stream, but they take time. Blair is fustrated by the resistance in the Civil Service to change, hence his sometimes excessive hands-on approach.
It is Blair's good fortune that the Conservatives are an extreme right-wing shambles.
So, for our non-UK members, this is Blair.
A religious man, who is a social liberal.
The control freak, who has devolved more power than any other PM in modern history.
The polite man, who called the left-wing Scottish Labour press, 'unreconstrucuted wankers' (UK slang for self-abusers!)
The PM who has appeared on shallow talk-shows, yet reads extensively on history, philosophy and recently, the Koran.
The 'big-tent' politician, who has a dim view of much of his own party.
His wife is a very succesful legal figure, she wants to be a judge, not really possible while her husband is PM. This may decide how long Blair stays in power. Brown still wants the top job, too much for many.
There is at the moment no obvious successor, but you rarely see them coming.
Singapore_Air From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2000, 13722 posts, RR: 20 Reply 16, posted (12 years 2 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 602 times:
I don't think the Conservatives will ever get in. I wouldn't feel very safe if they got in for personal reasons and my sterotyping. However, the main point it that if they do get back in I will be sorely angry and upset. It just wouldn't feel safe iMO.
As for the Liberal Democrats. I think they are a bit too left for my liking. Adopting the €uro instantly isn't the best policy my dears.
Scotty From UK - Scotland, joined Dec 1999, 1875 posts, RR: 3 Reply 17, posted (12 years 2 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 600 times:
"The control freak, who has devolved more power than any other PM in modern history."
Who was it who said that power devolved is power retained? Blair is still in control and uses Scottish devolution as his way of making sure, - makes his party hacks in Scotland think they have REAL power. They have none, because if they make any change to the Scottish budget, they have to ask Blair for the cash to fund it.
"The polite man, who called the left-wing Scottish Labour press, 'unreconstrucuted wankers' "
He's right there.
"The PM who has appeared on shallow talk-shows, yet reads extensively on history, philosophy and recently, the Koran"
More like the shrewd sound biter who listens to his spin doctors about how to appeal to the widest possible range of people - no bad thing.
"There is at the moment no obvious successor, but you rarely see them coming"
Especially when they are your trusted Chancellor of the Exchequer!!
BCal DC10 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 720 posts, RR: 5 Reply 19, posted (12 years 2 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 577 times:
Yay, Scotty, well said!!
-->he is not losing touch with domestic affairs, trying to improve the NHS (for you Americans, that your health service but free for all, but we pay tax for it), education and crime
Singapore_air - sorry if this sounds patronising. Are you Britains youngest tax payer? You're not really old enough to appreciate what its like paying 40% tax like I have to and seeing F*** all being done with your hard earned money - waiting 18 months for operations, third world public transport etc.)
I love all these people who don't live in Britain (I refer the honourable gentlemen to the posts at the top of the page) thinking Tony is sooo wonderful.
Phony Tony is a fraudster and you should not believe a word that comes out of his mouth. Dangerous is a word that springs to mind... However the population will see him for what he really is, as he continues to neglect important issues facing Britons and they'll vote with their feet. They'll have to because he certainly doesn't listen to what anyone tells him about the health service, education etc.
However, get rid of Phony Tony and you could get the stingiest man in Britain in charge, Gordon Brown. Then we'd be in real shit.
GDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 12968 posts, RR: 79 Reply 20, posted (12 years 2 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 577 times:
But the alternative is the Conservative Ian Duncan-Smith, or IDS as he likes to be known. One Tory MP says IDS really stands for 'In Deep Shit'.
If the Tories were serious, they'd have elected Ken Clarke. After two massive defeats, they are still stuck in a mythical past. And the average age of the party is 65, hence their distorted, xenaphobic world-view.
Remember, Thatcher's reforms didn't really kick-in until 6-7 years into her term, so it's still early days for Blair.
Blair's main problem, up to now, is not trusting his own instincts, hence not dismantling that awful Railtrack much sooner.
As for tax, we pay less than nearly every other EU state. You want a French-style health service, transport network etc?
Well then you have to pay French-style taxes, end of story.
Of course, despite Brown's early reforms, UK tax hit's the poorest most.
You can thank 18 years of the Tories for that.
As for the excessive spin, sign of the times, and a result of those four election defeats. But Millbank's time has surely ended, time to axe that bunch, they are a real problem for the goverment now. But the Tories protest too much, they sneaked bad news out after the Dunblane massacre.
Do you really think that 'plain-speaking' types like Hauge and Widdecombe are really any less 'spun'?