A Record to be Proud of....
Would a Labour leader be a success if, over three elections, he had seen his party's vote decline steadily from 13.5 million to 10.7 million to 9.6 million?
What about the fact that this is less than the 14 million won by John Major in 1992, or the 13.9 million won by Clement Attlee in 1951 (when the electorate was 7 million fewer)? Or the fact that his second election saw a popular vote that was less than that gained by the 'unelectable' Neil Kinnock in 1992?
That is indeed Tony Blair's success. He has won a huge parliamentary majority on two occasions with less than a third of the votes of the whole electorate; his most recent victory saw him win just over a fifth of the whole electorate's votes. And they say there's no case for electoral reform?
These ineluctable points and many others are put forward by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in a searing assessment of the Blair premiership, entitled 'Yo, Blair', after President Bush's infamous off the record greeting. This short book is a polemic of unremitting force, and Blair admirers will probably choke on the copious evidence of their hero's duplicity, while his detractors will cheer on Wheatcroft and suffer high blood pressure from bursting indignation at the same time. Though an old fashioned Tory, Wheatcroft is no unthinking admirer of the Conservatives either, as his previous book, 'The Strange Death of Conservative England', makes clear. It may be that there is a good defence of Blair to be made. It's just that I haven't seen it yet.