Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ten Years of Blairism

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of Tony Blair's acension to Prime Minister. Labour had been out of power since 1979 and the Conservatives had won four straight general elections. Margaret Thatcher had been prime minister for over eleven years; longer continuous service than anyone but Lord Liverpool(served from 1812 to 1827). In the runup to the 1992 election is was widely believed that Neil Kinnock had remade Labour enough that they would easily defeat Thatcher's successor John Major. But it was apparently not enough as Major pulled out an upset and led five more years of Tory rule. By 1997 I think several things converged. There was Tory fatigue. Blair was one of the most charismatic British politicians to come around in a long time. His Clintonian triangulation comforted voters that there wouldn't be general strikes and nationalization of industry.

About Thatcher: I used to watch Prime Minister's Question Time on CSPAN, and I will say she was masterful. Considering that she was a research chemist before she went into politics, she held herself very well. I can't imagine any recent Republican president surviving an ordeal like that. Of course Clinton would have been great at it.

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