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Reviewing Tony Blair

As he prepares to leave 10 Downing Street, what is the world saying about Tony Blair’s legacy?

June 25, 2007

As he prepares to leave 10 Downing Street, what is the world saying about Tony Blair's legacy?

When Tony Blair swept into power in 1997 on promises to modernize Britain and lead it into the 21st century, he seemed like a breath of fresh air in the staid British political establishment. Ten years later, as he prepares to leave 10 Downing Street amid an unpopular war in Iraq and a weakened Labour Party, it seems as if he may have overstayed his welcome. We present some of the most insightful views on his legacy.

What has been notable about Tony Blair’s tenure as prime minister?

“With the departure of Tony Blair, the decade-long dominance of British politics by one man and by one party is coming to an end.”

(James Blitz, Financial Times columnist, January 2007)

What assessment do most people agree on?

“He is a hard man to read.”

(Wall Street Journal editorial, September 2006)

How did Blair break political practice toward the United States?

“In the past, Britain’s most valuable contribution to the special relationship has been as the trusted partner who says ‘yes, but.'”

(The Economist editorial, March 2007)

What might his political epitaph read?

“A great leader who too often subordinated his own values to please an American president.”

(David Ignatius, Washington Post columnist, January 2007)

Does Blair have his defenders in the United States?

“Neither poodle nor lackey, Blair has been point man and link.”

(Roger Cohen, International Herald Tribune columnist, June 2007)

How do critics judge his role in the Middle East?

“Mr. Blair has done more damage to British interests in the Middle East than Anthony Eden, who led the United Kingdom to disaster in Suez 50 years ago.”

(Sir Rodric Braithwaite, former British ambassador to Moscow, August 2006)

What are Blair’s critics saying about his domestic legacy?

“The UK prime minister came into office promising to clean up politics. Labor would be ‘whiter than white.’ The practice has been otherwise.”

(Philip Stephens, Financial Times columnist, July 2006)

And what is his successor’s view?

“Let us today applaud the immense national and international contribution, as leader and prime minister, of Tony Blair.”

(Gordon Brown, incoming British prime minister, September 2006)

Is the British press as sanguine?

“Mr. Blair has, indeed, been a flawed leader — all leaders are.”

(Martin Wolf, Financial Times columnist, May 2006)

Now that Blair is leaving 10 Downing Street, how will he pay his mortgage?

“The American lecture circuit and a book advance should take care of things.”

(Senior British banker, January 2007)