By Allen Wolfe
On May 15, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced his resignation.
In a speech delivered last week at Trimdon Labour Club, Blair announced, “I will tender my resignation from the office of Prime Minister to the Queen.” In light of Blair’s departure, set for June 27, 2007, Britain now looks to Gordon Brown, current treasury chief, to stop the war in Iraq.
“[Tony Blair has had] one of the lowest approval ratings ever for a serving prime minister,” said Robin, a member of the Stop the War Coalition, a United Kingdom-based anti-war group. “[Ratings are] largely as a result of his slavish support for George Bush’s wars, not least in Iraq, which has always been opposed by a majority of the British people.”
Blair, who has been the leader of the Labour Party since 1994 and prime minister for just over 10 years, faces criticism for his involvement in Iraq. According to Ronnie D. Lipschutz, professor of politics at UC Santa Cruz, Tony Blair “should have left earlier, before the invasion of Iraq.”
With fallout of core support from his own party, Blair decided to leave his position two years before his scheduled departure.
Alice Pascoe, a second-year student from England studying at UCSC, defended Blair’s decision to stay in office this long. “He obviously tried to resolve certain things,” Pascoe said. “There is a reason he left so late.”
At the forefront of Blair’s troubles was the war in Iraq. Many people see the war as the main downfall of his time as prime minister, as it overshadowed the rest of Blair’s term. “I think he did a lot of good things. It’s unfortunate that this whole war has detracted [from the positive aspects of his career],” Pascoe said.
Blair helped to bolster the Labour Party, much like Clinton did in the U.S. with his “New Labor” campaign, according to Lipschutz. Unfortunately, the Labour Party has lost constituent support and no longer has confidence in Blair to secure the next election.
According to Robin, a member of the Stop the War Coalition, the Labour Party has lost “four million voters â€¦ and the membership of [the] party has halved, once again largely due to [Blair’s] support for war crimes.”
Many Brits are tired of Tony Blair’s “shallowness,” and his being seen as the lapdog of the Bush administration, according to Lipschutz in an e-mail to City on a Hill Press. Popular opinion in Britain indicates that Brown, set to succeed Blair, would not have found himself fighting America’s war in Iraq.
Upon reflection, Pascoe did feel sympathy for Blair.
“Being prime minister is a really difficult job. I kind of feel sorry for him in a way,” she said. “If anyone was in Blair’s position, it would be quite a big deal to totally shun America and not support them in [their war].”
In light of the interrelationship between America and Britain, it would be hard for a prime minister to completely disregard the will of the American president.
However, in light of the status of the war in Iraq, Blair’s reputation and legacy would have remained intact and his constituency would have stuck by him if he had more firmly opposed the war.
“If Blair had not given his unqualified support to Bush,” according to the Stop the War Coalition, “it would have been much more difficult for the U.S. administration to sustain a war now opposed by two-thirds of the American people.”
Stop the War believes Blair took Britain into an “illegal war, which has led to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis being slaughtered.” Blair’s actions in accordance with the Bush administration means he is “leaving office in disgrace, two years before he intended.”