But now he's gone, what comes next? Jim Bliss says
I saw Gordon Brown’s celebratory wave and read his Let the work of change begin sound-bite. I looked closer at the photograph… “Haaaang on”, I thought to myself, “isn’t that the bloke that’s been sat behind Blair — smiling and applauding — at every important policy announcement for the past ten years?”
“It bloody well is, y’know!”
Just how will we remember Blair himself? Fortunately, he's given us some guiding thoughts. Writing in what is sadly the last issue of the defiantly not online No Quarter magazine, Mr Blair tells us that
History, rather than the immediate future, will be the judge of my actions.
As I stand down after ten years in office, there are some people who argue I should now be judged on the decisions that I made during that time. There are many who are calling for a rigorous and unsentimental debate over the merits of my various actions. There are even those who are demanding that enquiries be launched, investigations undertaken and reports written on the potentially damaging impact that my legacy will have on future governments.
To these people I say, hold on a minute. Let us take a step back. Let history decide whether I was right or wrong. Let us not go down the road of assessing the observable impact of my actions - for that is the wrong road to take. Instead, let these actions go unquestioned for a sustained period of time. Britain is a nation that is proud of its history, and this pride is founded on the resolve not to question our actions too deeply; it is my hope that my legacy will be accorded the same treatment.
I have never claimed to have a monopoly of wisdom, but one thing I have learned in this job is that you should always try to do the right thing, not the easy thing. And the thing to remember about the right thing is that it may seem entirely wrong at the time, and indeed for a long time afterwards. But that does not mean that, at some speculative point in the future, these actions might not prove to have been very right indeed. It is this point in the future that I urge you to stay focused on.
Some might say to this, when does history begin? Surely history is created with each passing moment? These questions are fundamentally misguided. Making history is a lot like making a cake: the ingredients may have been mixed together and placed in the oven, but if we keep checking on it every few minutes we are going to be disappointed by what we find. Instead, we must have the patience and resolve to let it rise up in its own time. In the same way, we must not remove my actions from the oven of history until they are fully baked.
So, as I stand down from the leadership I would say to the country, do not launch any inquiries, do not set up any committees, and definitely do not publish any independent reports for the time being. History will take care of that.