by Graham Pierrepoint
Of all the statespeople that have graced the world stage in the past two decades, one figure remains just as divisive as ever – Tony Blair, British Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, took the UK out of a Conservative government into its first Labour premiership for decades – but it’s a role that would eventually earn him consternation from many, particularly over his re-branding of the party and his role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Certainly, the Iraq war continues to send reverberations across the globe even thirteen years on, and with Blair having been subjected to a less than positive review as part of the independent Chilcott Enquiry, many could have been forgiven for thinking that the ex-PM’s image and status were finally shattered for good.
However, Blair has returned to the frontline of the press once again this week as it appears that he is adopting a ‘never say never’ approach to British politics. To many voters in the UK, Blair’s name is considerably marked by the role he played in supporting then-US President George W Bush in the decision to pursue attacks on Iraq – as well as various changes he made to the Labour Party, which had previously been seen as a bastion of the working class. Since then, while Labour’s leadership has significantly turned to the left under the controversial ascension of Jeremy Corbyn, many within the party are greatly concerned about their future ability to tackle Theresa May’s new-look Conservative cabinet in the prospective 2020 General Election. The question is: is Blair considering some form of strategy to help the party fight back?
While a spokesman for Tony Blair has advised that he will not be returning to frontline politics, the ex-PM has made it clear that he wished to re-enter political discourse regarding the country in general – feeling that the Labour Party had swung dramatically to the left and that there was now an opportunity to take the middle ground. While Blair may think that the opportunity to put his points across is valid, his legacy as head of state remains tainted by his involvement in the Iraq war and by a number of key policy changes that led to growing disapproval of his leadership. Whether or not Blair does return to British politics – if only to make advisory points – it’s not especially clear he will be welcomed by the wider electorate.