Tony Blair made his first major speech of the General Election campaign this week. If Labour have any sense it will be his last.
Whatever his good intentions may be, he is tainted by the Iraq war and regardless of his message Blair will find opprobrium from both right and left of the political spectrum, and the centre.
Clearly he had to make one speech, if not the Labour party could have been accused of being embarrassed of their former leader, and in the event of a Labour loss Mr Blair could have been accused of not supporting the party.
So he made his way up to his old constituency of Sedgefield, where his political journey started back in 1983 and he pronounced: "It's an enormous pleasure to be back on home turf." He sold his house in the area back in 2009.
EU Referendum Is Too Big A Decision For the British Public To Make
The main thrust of the speech was to say that the choice of staying in the EU is too big a question for the British people to decide. This is complete U-turn from his stance back in 2004, but I suppose a man is allowed to change his mind in 11 years.
His most powerful argument was to warn against the rising threat of a new nationalism and he alluded to "ugly" far-right elements within UKIP who would try to push voters towards an EU exit.
But Blair's failure is that he has no faith in the British people to see through this "mean spirit" of UKIP and he overstated the "chaos" that a referendum it would cause. With the Scottish Independence vote, there was a brief period of instability but it quickly passed.
Blair's Nanny State Ignored the Will of the People
Blair's brand of politics created a nanny state where the party always knew best and he presided over the massive transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels with the Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties, and the EU Constitution without once seeking a mandate from the country. That is what has created most of the ill feeling towards Europe. It is right and fair to give the country the choice to decide in 2017, and this should create a resolution to the question of Europe for a generation.
If Only There Had Been An Iraq War Referendum
If only there had been a referendum about the Iraq War, it's almost certain the British public would have voted against it. Over a million people took to the streets to protest and if they had had their say at the ballot box the Middle East region would not be in the terrible state that it is now.
The final irony of the Sedgefield hustings is that the Conservative candidate for the seat, Scott Wood, is a former tank commander who served in Iraq in 2003 looking for weapons of mass destruction. He told the Guardian writer Marina Hyde: "We looked for these WMD for about four weeks, then our orders changed...and we were sent to guard the oilfields."