The Knife has raised this one before. Specifically, why Blair will always be worse than Brown. He is probably more likeable, better company, more street wise, more…er…human (not difficult), but he foisted Gordon on a defenceless nation when he knew it was a mistake. Iain Martin again, in the WSJ:
“Blair was and is an extremely skilled operator and orator, with great strategic and tactical flair. But he was a big scaredy cat about economics, something that turned out to be rather important in the end. He didn’t ask any basic questions on this subject from the time he crossed the threshold of Number 10 until he departed a decade later. The same cannot be said of Margaret Thatcher, Jim Callaghan, Harold Wilson and most PMs of the modern era. They didn’t always come up with the right answers, but at least they took an interest.
In contrast, TB and his aides accepted the idea promoted by the then chancellor, entirely without question it appears, that boom and bust had been ended. On that basis the country spent and borrowed like mad, with almost the whole political class and much of the public joining in. Very few people could have called with any credibility for a little restraint or forced a change of course on easy credit, bank regulation or the runaway increase in public spending. In theory, Blair might have stepped in if he hadn’t been so scared of offending the man next door (who was a big scaredy cat in his own way and would have run a mile if the PM had thumped him). Blair could have been that man. But he wasn’t.
Fine, we all make mistakes. Although not all of us make mistakes as big as those that lead to a national debt of £1.4 trillion by 2014. Still, a little humility wouldn’t go amiss for missing completely how important fiscal responsibility is.
Instead those old Blairites talk endlessly of their own supposed ideological bravery (”back in my day we did the intellectual heavy-lifting, tackled all the big questions so that we knew what we were going to do”). As though they somehow confronted truth at all times and lived only on a diet of hard choices. In economic terms they lived on easy street and were so contemptuous of the lessons of history that they made that ancient mistake: they thought it was different this time. Worse they thought it was different because of something brilliant they had done or were associated with. Sadly, it wasn’t different. Look what happened next.”
Another thing to mention in confession.