Michael, as it happens I think that it’s still reasonably unlikely (thank heavens) that Blair will actually succeed in weaseling his way to the presidency of the EU, but since you ask what kind of society will Europe be if its leading politician refuses to defend free speech and academic discourse, I’ll give the answer. It’ll be the Europe that its elites want.
The London Spectator recently published this handy summary of Blair’s, um, achievemenst by Trevor Kavanagh. Here are a few key extracts:
The bleak truth for UK plc is that after 12 years of stupefying Labour incompetence, the worst is yet to come. Britain is once again on the slide towards the margins of economic influence and military clout. We have the worst public finances of any comparable western economy. The British Chambers of Commerce warned this week that the UK faces a ‘grim’ economic future, with a high risk of a relapse. Unemployment is not just spreading but setting like concrete for years to come. And our shabbily treated troops, once a match for the world’s best, will soon be driven humiliatingly out of Afghanistan. . . .
Tony Blair could have done one or two truly great things. His government had the cash and clout to transform a welfare state in which almost three million were on incapacity benefit. Instead, it left them to rot while importing migrants to fill almost all of the three million new jobs created. It could have performed drastic but urgently needed surgery on the lumbering National Health Service. Instead, it poured truckloads of taxpayers’ money into a giant bureaucracy, entrenching inefficiencies that will cost us up to £40 billion a year, every year.
It could have unpicked our gridlocked roads and chaotic rail networks. Instead, vainglorious John Prescott carved out a grotesque personal empire and abandoned his promised ‘integrated transport system’. Less expensively, Labour really could have delivered ‘education, education, education’. Today, children who have spent their entire school life under Labour are joining the workforce semi-literate and unable to do their times tables.
As Labour stumbles towards the end of its third and final lap, it can look back on a record of almost unbridled failure. Certainly, it will point to achievements like the minimum wage and the Northern Ireland peace process. But in so many other costly ways this government has led us up blind alleys — on Europe, street crime, immigration. Today, Cabinet ministers publicly argue the ‘line to take’ while privately expressing despair over Labour’s failure to deliver. Even Labour’s one signal triumph, the liberation of the Bank of England, has been tarnished by bungled bank deregulation. . . .
Labour had inherited a golden egg. It plundered the nest and ran up debts that will for decades to come act like permanent dead weights on our economy. Tony Blair himself had begun to realise what had happened. The former PM, famously, was an economic illiterate — so much so that he failed to understand that economics is the heavy artillery of political power. He had handed it lock, stock and barrel to his unsharing Chancellor…
Tony Blair’s skills as a politician are remarkable, but as prime minister he was a disaster for his country. It will indeed say a lot about the EU if he is given its presidency.