The Blog

Too Wrong to Be Right, and Too Right to Be Left

He leans too far to the right to be Labour, and annoys his own backbenchers for implementing policy that aren't traditionally held party beliefs. His record abroad is impressive, but at home, much of the country has taken a dislike to Tony Blair... what you thought I was talking about David Cameron?

He leans too far to the right to be Labour, and annoys his own backbenchers for implementing policy that aren't traditionally held party beliefs. His record abroad is impressive, but at home, much of the country has taken a dislike to Tony Blair... what you thought I was talking about David Cameron?

Last week, the Independent reported that the current prime minister is becoming rather chummy with the former. It was a surprise to some, but perhaps it shouldn't be.

A forked road, converges into one

After 17 years of a Conservative-led government, poll-tax riots, mass unemployment and the effects, and after-effects of Margaret Thatcher, Blair rode a surprising wave of popularity to party leadership in 1994. His youthful charisma, an unfaltering smile and the dragging heels of the supposed next leader, Gordon Brown, meant that everything was coming up Tony, after the unexpected death of John Smith.

It was said in hushed tones at the time, but many true Labour politicians felt that Blair leant too far to the right to be a Labour MP. Maybe he was more purple than blue, but he definitely wasn't red. Leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond had no problems sharing this publically.

"The Tories and Labour have merged in the middle into Blajorism... There is nothing to choose between Toryism and Tonyism."

Alas, there was no political jostle that could knock Labour off the path to government, and no rhetoric that could tarnish the chances of Tony Blair being there, just the formality of a general election.

Cameron's entry into 10 Downing Street was slightly less dignified. With a crumbling Labour leadership that had spent too long in power, but not long enough in the right position at the right time, the Tories blubbed, bribed and buttered up their former arch-nemesis, the Liberal Democrats, to form a coalition, and walk hand-in-hand into government. The choice wasn't greeted with the same rapturous applause and joyous relief that Blair's party felt 13 years before, but with the shame and embarrassment in knowing that the country had accidently elected two of the more useless politicians to run the country.

Home, is where the heart is not

However, on with the job they got. Cameron got the unpopular decisions out of the way first, with a cut-cut here, and a cut-cut there. Here a cut, there a cut, everywhere a cut-cut. There was no point trying to win voters, Cameron was already prime minister and it was five years until the next election. His popularity couldn't get any worse right? Wrong. Next came the startling revelation that two former editors of the world famous national newspaper, the News of the World, were criminals. When one of these editors, Rebekah Brooks, resigned from News International, Cameron sent text messages to her.

Apparently this shouldn't have been seen as unusual, the two were close friends, and even attended Christmas parties together. It also seems Blair considered Brooks a "friend" and also sent her messages of support at the height of the phone hacking scandal. Another friend of Cameron's was that other editor, Andy Coulson. In fact the two had got so close, Coulson had been made the prime minister's personal head of communications, but the clique soon had to be broken up, because within the next two years, these former editors would be found guilty for several crimes relating to the phone hacking scandal.

The unfortunate legacy

Away from home, Cameron has had soaring success lately. His speech on EU membership in January pleased his own party, and rumours of a stalking horse never began to trot, let alone gallop. This success was followed by a strong performance in Brussels that saw the EU cut its budget for the first time ever. The premier returned to the House of Commons with cheers echoing through the chamber. A few years prior to this, it was reported Cameron had held personal meetings with Blair, where they discussed foreign affairs and how to deal with them. In his role with the Quartet of the Middle East, the former Labour leader, offered advice, yet this advice is usually reserved for EU government representatives, not the leader of a member state.

Blair's own foreign policies were just as successful at times. The invasion of Iraq is well documented, with opinions polarised and legalities strewn about the internet; some factual, some not. This is the unfortunate legacy Blair left behind. The general public forgets about his contribution to peace in Northern Ireland, and ignores the success of saving refugees in Kosovo, not to mention saving Sierra Leone from collapse. These are the reasons Blair now holds a position with the Quartet, a central seat between the United Nations, the United States, the EU and Russia, a post that has come under criticism, but still holds influence internationally.

Troops in Iraq are finally starting to pack up their bags, but many of them are returning without a job. The spending cuts Cameron was so keen on announcing in 2010 seem to have caught up with him. The same day his coalition government released the future budget, or lack thereof, for the Ministry of Defence, Cameron said unexpected terrorist events in Mali may cause a global threat for "years, even decades." Positioning the remaining handful of British soldiers in North Africa might leave a sour taste in the legacy of David Cameron's premiership, one that's not too dissimilar to taste left following Tony Blair's decision to invade Iraq.

The two are inextricably linked. Two peas in a pod. Blair may have been considered centre-left, but only to appease the life-long Labour luddites, and Cameron is so weak he will be dragged on to any side of a debate as long as he's pleasing a majority. No wonder their friendship blossoms so beautifully, without it they would have no one to stand up for one another.

Before You Go