As you can’t have failed to notice, today’s big ‘news’ is Blair’s tenth anniversary as our
Glorious Leader Prime Minister, along with ten years of a Labour government. I was in Year 2 on 1st May 1997, but being a slightly freakish child I do remember the occasion, as well as being woken up with an exuberant “We have a new Prime Minister!” from my dad. Remember, this was after 18 years of Tory rule – imagine almost twice as long as Labour has now been in power – so it was certainly a Very Good Day.
You can hardly be surprised that we’re all more cynical about the bloke now, after ten years in the stifling bubble that is power. Many people, of course, will immediately write off Blair thanks to Iraq. They have other complaints, of course, but Iraq is the big one, and it’s hard to find anyone today who doesn’t believe the war was a terrible mistake. Underneath it all, Blair probably knows that too. He’ll never admit it, naturally, and Blair may be arrogant but he isn’t stupid. Nevertheless, I do believe that judging Blair purely on Iraq is a mistake. It was the Bush administration’s war, not his, and you can’t imagine anyone over there was paying attention to a lowly British PM at all. My nostalgia for the days of Bill Clinton is overwhelming.
Whilst it’s very unfashionable to list Labour’s successes, let’s be contrary and do it anyway: a minimum wage, massive investment in schools and hospitals, a fall in crime rates, Bank of England independence, civil partnerships, low inflation and unemployment… etc. No doubt people could try and dispute every item on that list, but that’s just the nature of politics. I’d like to say a special thank you for restoring proper democracy in London, accidentally leading to Ken Livingstone’s election and hence free bus travel for me
But hey, all I have to do is wait for the inevitable Tory victory at some point in the future – put up with it by clenching my eyes shut very tightly – and then celebrating another fresh-faced Labour victory!
Incidentally, I was reading The Telegraph for views on Blair’s leadership and found some frankly hilarious articles I wanted to share. Firstly, from the obligitory young person:
“The fees for university frustrate me. I don’t want to start my adult life in debt. Why can’t they take away the fees, put up grade levels and cap the amount of people who go to university?”
Reply: Good luck planning an education system around ‘capping’ the number of people you deem worthy to “really deserve to go” – especially based on the ‘grade levels’ you wouldn’t have if you got rid of all the “pointless exams” you complain about. Grr.. you irritate me. The child wonder also declares that “I used to go shopping all the time, but there comes a point when Maidstone gets a bit boring”. Yes, I can see why.
A ‘working mother‘ is also concerned about education:
“I take education very seriously, so my daughters went to a private Montessori nursery which was expensive but wonderful. Jessie went on to the local state school because Lucy had arrived by then and I could not afford to pay fees for both girls. I got Jessie into the best local school I could find.
But I was hugely shocked when she started. One day the teacher said the children had spent the day drawing shapes in the sand. I thought: ‘Yes, but my child is already speaking French.’ There had been a French teacher at the Montessori and Jessie could count in French.
She was five by then. I felt the school was failing her.”
Reply: she was five and still playing in sand?! Dear god! Forget about French, it’s high time for a dose of Latin.
And oh, the headteacher pains me with:
“In my experience texting, MSN, YouTube, and MySpace are wholly negative developments”
Reply: Ooh dear. Oooh dear indeed. I don’t know what to suggest apart from that he forgot telephones and violent video games.