Another disillusioned Blairite sees the light.
As Max Hastings reminds us, Churchill in 1940 said “This was our finest hour” Certainly it’s not been equalled yet, and after Blair the decline looks irreversible.
DAILY MAIL 29/4/07
Blair's legacy: 10 years that ruined Britain
by MAX HASTINGS -
Here he is. Lights, sound, camera, applause - let's hear it for our ten-year Prime Minister: Mister... Tony. . . Blair!
And so, next Wednesday, Tony will offer himself for our congratulations, a modest little joke on his lips, a modest little smile on his face. He will have made it, matched the achievement of a tiny handful of national leaders - a decade in Downing Street. Sweating a little through the make-up, he will tell us how proud he is, how much he owes to Cherie, how much he owes to the British people.
He will say how good it feels to know that he will soon be handing over to the right man (No, forget that bit!). He will talk about how much his Government has achieved over the past ten years.
He will knit his brow to show how sincerely he means this. And up and down the land, the British people will respond with a monumental raspberry.
Tony Blair, who was swept into office in 1997 amid higher hopes and greater goodwill than any incoming British Prime Minister in modern times, will leave it a few weeks hence with his reputation in ruins.
An opinion poll earlier this month showed that only 11 per cent of voters still like him; 51per cent think that "he manages to convince himself that whatever he has decided to do must be morally right".
Some 57 per cent say he has stayed in Downing Street too long, and only five per cent agree that he is "in touch with ordinary people".
Just 27 per cent think Britain is a more successful society than it was in 1997, and 61 per cent believe that it is a much less pleasant one.
How could it have come to this? How could a man who started with so much end his term utterly threadbare?
He is admired only by Right-wing lunatics in the United States, for the worst possible reason - that he backed Bush's Iraq adventure.
He was never loved by the Labour Party, which was merely grovellingly grateful that he won elections for it.
Now, most of its members detest him, and hide their feelings only because they are so frightened of Gordon Brown's impending impact on the electorate.
On the steps of Downing Street on May 2, 1997, Blair said: "This new Labour government will govern in the interests of all our people, the whole of this nation. Enough of talking. It's time to do."
Yet today, Iraq and Blair's European ambitions are in tatters. The future of the United Kingdom is in real doubt, with the Scottish Nationalists confident of taking power.
Most voters tell pollsters they believe the NHS is "poor" or "very poor"; education, health and policing no better.
Tony Blair has shown himself the most accomplished political actor ever to occupy the premiership.
He is an orator of near-genius, a performer who has for years dominated party conference platforms, TV studios, Parliament, White House press conferences, even the U.S. Congress.
Put him before an audience in his heyday, whether of three people or 3,000, and he could weave a spell worthy of Gandalf.
But now let us step over the camera and lighting cables, walk past the brilliantly painted frontage of whichever modern temple of glitz he is patronising - the Millennium Dome would be appropriate - and venture backstage.
Examine the real Britain after ten years of Blair.
Measured in cash, which is the way Tony and Cherie measure most things, nearly all of us have become a little better off under Labour.
Despite Gordon Brown's relentlessly increasing taxes, which today take an average of £3,100 more from each household than they did in 1997, our real earnings have increased.
Expenditure on public services has soared. The NHS budget has almost trebled; spending per head on primary school pupils has doubled; MPs' incomes have rocketed; every department of government hands out vastly more cash than it did a decade ago, most of this to Labour clients.
Yet, if ever we needed confirmation of the old saw that money cannot buy us happiness, the Blair years provide it.
As a society, despite all this cash, today we find ourselves troubled, divided, at a loss for purposes and values, profoundly dissatisfied.
Government policies have contributed decisively to the erosion of the family.
In Blair's Britain, a relationship can be whatever you choose to make it: same sex, ships passing in the night, single parenthood.
By far the easiest way for a teenage girl to get her own home is to become pregnant without the botheration of a ring or even a resident other half.
[Education] For all the deceits peddled by examination authorities, our children are costing more to learn less. A third of secondary school pupils have some record of truancy.
Most school-leavers are tossed exam certificates without achieving real skills in literacy and numeracy, never mind knowledge.
Our great universities have fallen victim to class-war football, with Gordon Brown the foremost government striker.
More and more unqualified teenagers from state schools are pushed towards Oxbridge, while private school pupils are deliberately excluded.
Excellence drains away. Under-funded British universities, subject to relentless government meddling, slip ever further behind their American counterparts.
In the workplace, the Government has promoted employee rights at the expense of a crippling impact on productivity, in which Britain slips ever further down on the global scale.
Public sector workers have prospered. Indeed, thanks to nice Mr Alan Johnson (when he was Pensions Minister), they are almost the only ones left who can look forward to a decent pension.
The economy is now frighteningly dependent on public sector jobs - non-productive ones, funded by the rest of us - to sustain employment.
Forget the chances of getting a manufacturing job in the East Midlands. We make less and less.
If you can't get work in the City of London, your best chance of finding a cushy billet in Blair's Britain is to become a disability guidance counsellor or equal opportunities monitoring manager. The country teems with such people, the vast swarm of New Labour drones.
If the economy falters even for a moment, you and I will struggle desperately to pay their wages through our taxes.
Local government has been progressively emasculated. Blair and his ministers trust no one outside their own tiny circle to make choices, to administer even a parish council.
Democracy has haemorrhaged in the past ten years. Our ability to exercise a real say about what is done is our own communities - even, as we have seen this week, to save our weekly rubbish collections - has been stripped away.
We get what Blair chooses to give us, with only a four-yearly national referendum, sometimes called a "General Election", to rubber-stamp government's all-embracing authority.
The Blair years have been a boom time for: Ann Summers sex shops (up from 13 to 134 since 1997); free Viagra; CCTV cameras; wind farms; John Prescott; Peter Mandelson; Cherie Blair's lecture income; the prison population; Alastair Campbell; private security guards; sales of illegal drugs; binge- drinking; City salaries; Ken Livingstone; childhood obesity; and grossly incompetent management of the rail system.
The past decade has, by contrast, been a woeful time for personal freedoms. Forget, for a moment, the excesses of government anti-terrorist legislation.
There is something mad about any government which persecutes smokers to the point where they will shortly be banned even from private clubs, yet regards marijuana with far less hostility than cigarettes.
Labour whipped many more MPs into the House of Commons to ban fox-hunting than ever turn out to debate child cruelty.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has become an enforcement arm of Blairism, intruding its meddling fingers into every corner of our lives.
We shall soon be obliged to wear safety helmets to watch TV in the sitting-room, lest the ceiling fall on our heads.
Ministers have even surrendered the Armed Forces to the clutches of the HSE. The proud old "warrior ethos" is being steadily supplanted by that of the compensation claimant and civil rights lawyer.
We are ruled by a government which seems not so much immoral, as lacking any moral compass at all.
Simple principles of right and wrong, truth and falsehood, count for nothing in Blair's world, not least among his own closest acolytes, Mandelson and Campbell.
Dwellers in the British countryside hate Blair's government, of course, because its ministers seem to hate them so much.
Planning law has been changed, to confiscate powers from regional communities and transfer them to London, so that millions of new houses can be dumped wherever the man in Whitehall thinks best, including the green belt.
Cynicism towards the police is rampant. They seem to do so little to serve our interests, so much to please themselves and their political masters.
There is scant hope of finding a policeman on the street if we are mugged, because most of them are standing outside government buildings with assault-rifles, protecting our rulers from prospective terrorist assassins.
The victim culture flourishes. The doctrine of personal responsibility has been thrust contemptuously aside. Everything that anybody does is somebody else's fault.
So it was that the Chief of Defence Staff travelled personally to greet the shamed 15 British Navy hostages when they returned from Iran, and told them he was proud of them.
Yet more than any of these things, the British people are bitter because they feel that their country is no longer their own.
Some might forgive Tony Blair for the catastrophe of Iraq, but will never forgive his abject failure to control immigration.
According to official figures - and these, of course, ignore the countless numbers of illegal immigrants - the population of Britain grew by 185,000 in 2005 because of immigration, a trend which means well over a million a decade.
Many of the new arrivals not only do not speak our language, but actively reject our values and way of life.
They want to come because Britain is famously the softest touch in the world for access, public money and housing.
Nobody need agree to anything, least of all loyalty to Queen and country, before being waved through the door.
Few Labour ministers care sixpence about the disastrous impact of this influx on social services, housing, race relations and the sense of British nationality.
They welcome the fact that their greatest single achievement since 1997 has been to change, almost certainly irrevocably, the very character of our society.
The days when every schoolchild learnt Nelson's signal "England Expects" are gone. A generation from now, who will bet that pupils in Britain are taught even Churchill's line about the 'Finest Hour'?
The destruction of national identity is most grievous among the deep wounds Blair has inflicted on Britain.
Alongside it, the sale of seats in the legislature for cash seems a trifling peccadillo, the corrupt practices of ministers mere foibles.
On Blair's watch, we have become a much coarser, indeed nastier society. He has spearheaded the vacuous cult of celebrity, exemplified by invitations to Downing Street and Chequers for some of the most conspicuous of showbusiness's coke consumers.
The Blair era has been one long reality TV show, quite as repellent in its way as Big Brother. Blair's scrabblings for a "legacy" are risible.
History will remember him for Iraq and, here at home, for the yawning chasm between the rich promises which he made in 1997 and the sour fruits we are all harvesting today.
I was among those who really believed, at the beginning, that Tony was different. He was different, all right, but not in the way we supposed.
A man of vastly greater gifts than John Major, he has inflicted infinitely more damage upon Britain than ever did his predecessor, and much of it can never be undone.