When Tony Blair left Number 10 on 24 June 2007, it was a sad day for British politics and a blow our country still hasn't been able to recover from almost 6 ½ years later. The moment Gordon Brown walked through that famous black door in Downing Street the real New Labour was dead. The end of an era, a political tornado had swept a nation lifting over 600,000 children and one million pensioners out of poverty. Giving millions of people a minimum wage, greater equality, devolution, lasting peace in Northern Ireland and more teachers, doctors, nurses and police than ever before, not to mention 10 consecutive years of economic growth - the longest period of uninterrupted growth the UK has seen in over 200 years.
My assumption on writing this is that it will be read, mainly by people who only remember Tony Blair for one thing, the Iraq War. As a nation we are quick to forget all the achievements that he and new labour brought about for Britain, yes there were failures but no one is immune to mistakes. The fact is we still re-elected New Labour for a third term under his watch, despite Iraq.
In the light of recent events, namely Mr Blair being awarded philanthropist of the year by GQ Magazine there has been a fresh torrent of abuse aimed at a man who has evidently given a hell of a lot of time and effort into raising millions through his foundations including The Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which is helping the faiths of the world come together by providing practical support to counter religious prejudice, extremism and conflict which is rife throughout the world. It's unfortunate people can't see past the fact that he went to war even though it resulted in the end of a genocidal maniacs regime or that he earns millions from private speaking engagements, property and consulting, so that must make him devil incarnate.
As a Labour supporter and member should I have to resign myself to accepting a mediocre lifestyle and aspire to nothing? Does being a Labour supporter mean that I have to teach my children that they must rely on the state; and wanting a good, prosperous life for them and their family is completely immoral? Should my Labour party membership be automatically suspended when my income hits a certain level or when I become a director or CEO of a company? Or is that too far-fetched a thought for a Labour party supporter?
This is what New Labour under Tony Blair changed for us as a nation. The Third Way has enabled me as a Labour voter and you as a British Citizen not to be afraid to dream and be ambitious. It is not wrong to want to be middle class, run your own company or be rich, that is what drives nations forward and closes the gap between the rich and the poor. Tony Blair's government allowed us, the British people to take this into our own hands by igniting a real Social Democracy, giving the poorest a chance, moving millions of working class people into the once unreachable ranks of the lower and upper middle classes.
Tony Blair changed a nation regardless of who you vote for. If you are a Tory you will be saying "yes, for the worse." But you would be hard pressed to find someone in today's Britain who isn't worse off now than back in 2007. Yes, Labour left office during the worst recession in a century but it wasn't Gordon Brown, Tony Blair or New Labour that caused it. It was an international crisis caused by the banks, something the Tory's would rather you to forget.
At the end of the day the Blair administration brought about permanent progressive changes to British politics and a party in dire need of reformation if it was to have any chance of getting off the opposition benches. So when you are about to chastise a man you can only remember for one thing then please remember this. When you or your children get a job for the first time your employer will have to pay you a minimum wage, thanks to Mr Blair. When you start a family and claim your tax credits and child benefit helping you to improve your living standard, thank Mr Blair. If you are a new father and can take paid paternity leave, thank Mr Blair. If and when you are a pensioner and need the £200 winter fuel allowance, thank Mr Blair. When you need childcare and have access to over 2500 Surestart centres giving 3 and 4 years olds free places, thank Mr Blair. If you have a child born between 1997 -2010, remember the money given in trust your child will be able to draw upon when they are 18 thanks to Mr Blair.
The list could go on but I hope next time you think about calling Tony Blair a Warmongering toff who only cares about himself and his vast personal fortune, remember my points and the 10 gruelling years he gave to turn a nation on its knees around in order to give you an me a better quality of life.