The Blair Years

A selection from The Time's list of analysis since Blair took over the Labour Party in 1994.

From the late unlamented Bernard Levin to Anatole Kaletsky who raised questions about Blair's state of mind four years before Mathew Parris famously suggested our dear leader might be barking mad:
Bernard Levin 1994
Labour at last has a modern leader ready to sweep to power and end this sorry era. The longer and more frequently I contemplate Mr Blair, the more I like the cut of his jib...And at last Labour has found a leader to win and to deserve to win. From now until polling day I am a Blairite, and then I shall give three thousand cheers as he enters 10 Downing Street.

Mathew Parris 1994

Tony Blair is the next leader of the Labour Party (oops!) but he could just as well have been the leader of the Conservative Party or the Social Democratic Party or the Liberal Party or the Green Party, or Archbishop of Canterbury, or a progressive missionary, or in charge of Bob Geldof's PR, or director of a major charity, or chairman of English Heritage, or general secretary of a small, service-sector trade union, or a management consultant, or King Herod, or manager of a small plastics factory in Enfield where he is also sidesman in the local church and takes his daughters to pony classes in a newish Volvo.

Ben Macintyre 1997

Their trip to Buckingham Palace completed, the invitation to form an administration proffered by Her Majesty and accepted, Mr and Mrs Blair stopped their car in Whitehall and walked to Number 10 clasping, double-handed, the hands that reached from behind the packed barriers on either side of Downing Street. Looking pale, but with passionate fervour, Mr Blair sounded again the keynotes of his campaign and emphasised the "huge responsibility that is on me and the great trust" reflected by his huge electoral mandate. He was interrupted by deafening cheers as he pledged to "govern in the interests of all our people, the whole of this nation". The Blairs gathered their three children and entered Downing Street to meet the applauding staff. The door closed. A new chapter opened.

William Rees-Mogg 1997
For the moment it is the victory which matters. Tony Blair will have to be a great Prime Minister if he is not to be a great failure. He has reformed his party; he has won his overwhelming majority; now the most difficult part of his job is to come. The logical doubts still remain. He has never told us how he will reform wefare, how Labour can pay for health and education, or whether he will join the single currency. Failure is not only possible, but even likely.

Anatole Kaletsky 1999

Apart from a feeble joke about foxes and the distracted, almost embarrassed, expression on his face during some of the mawkish moments, there were only two things wrong with Tony Blair's millennial speech in Bournemouth this week. It was dishonest and stupid...If we assume that Mr Blair really believes in this Manichaean duality between respect for the past and preparation for the future, then it becomes just about possible to understand the blood-curdling belligerence of his speech and its bizarre Messianic peroration about "national salvation". But if that is really the way he thinks, then serious questions must surely arise about his sanity.

Mathew Parris 2003

He keeps retreating into a hopeless, desperate optimism: another sign of lunacy. He seems to have promised the Americans he could deliver Europe, and told the Europeans he could tame America. There was scant ground for hope on the first score and none on the second. The belief that irreconcilables can be reconciled by one’s personal contacts and powers of persuasion is a familiar delusion among people who are not quite right in the head. While each futile promise is in the process of being demonstrated to be undeliverable, he goes into a sort of nose-tapping, “watch this space” denial. When finally the promise is abandoned he turns insouciantly away — and makes a new promise.

Ann Treneman 2006
On television this event may have looked good but, in reality, it was as cheap as a fake Rolex. Mr Blair emerged from one side of the Jag. At first I thought he was glowing but that was only his tan. He gave us a wave. I don’t know why because we weren’t waving at him. Perhaps he is practising for his upcoming Legacy Tour or perhaps he has picked up this tip from the Queen: when in doubt, wave. Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, popped out of the other side of the Jag. The PM still has one friend.
And this:

Channel 4 News online asked 10 leading columnists to each give their verdict on 10 years of Blair rule in just 10 words.

My two favourites are:

Melanie Phillips
: "His incoherent triangulation created a void, into which he fell."

and Tony Parsons: "Somebody else's villa in Barbados. Somebody else's son in Iraq."

For what it's worth here are my ten words: "Doctor Kelly was found this morning, he had killed himself"