Goodbye Mr Blair. 10 years that started off with such promise and hope have ended with Britain and the world far less optimistic and settled. What could have really been the greatest premiership of post war Britain has ended in anticlimax. I take the view that it takes a few years before legacies are shaped and fully known and understood. When Thatcher left No.10 in 1990 it seemed her legacy would always be that of a cruel, almost megalomaniac type women. These views have mellowed, particularly in past couple of years and whilst she will never be forgiven by some, compared to the sly spin fuelled government of today, at least she was hard talking and straight forward. President Reagan was always seen as a buffoon type character but is looked back on far more fondly these days in America with George W Bush making him look like an economic genius. But what of Blair?
Whilst it can not be denied he has made many changes to Britain, it is hard to look past Iraq as being his lasting legacy. But domestically, I think Blair will always be synonymous with spin. He has used the media like no other PM before - with brilliant effect. But the longer term damage this has done to politics will only really be seen in the coming years. PR is now more important than substance and that can not be good for anyone. David Cameron is already mimicking this strategy and the days of straight talking politicians could well be over.
Another legacy could also be the end of ideological politics. The centre ground is where we are all told politics is fought today – an imaginary area I think of as nothingness. It is legislating for legislation's sake with no real direction. Pleasing the masses without inspiring them. Back in 1997 we all thought Blair was on a mission, it turns out it was a mission to apathy. The electorate are so uninspired and bored with the spin they seem to have rolled over and just let the parties get on with it. The feeling that voting makes no difference has never been stronger. The irony being, back in 1997 it was the power to make a difference that got Blair his landslide. Brown will continue with the New Labour project, whatever that means now, and he will no doubt have a few surprises up his sleeve in the next 100 days. But what is the alternative? The Tories offer nothing radical enough to offer change other than a Cameron grin (and if Brown's dour grimace puts us off, it maybe enough to win the next election – hardly inspiring though!). The Lib Dems are even less inspiring than they were 5 years ago. Blair was a brilliant politician but as the decade of his premiership went on, the realisation that his vision wasn't what we thought it was became more and more apparent.
We still talk of Thaterism today - as Andrew Marr said, like it or not we are all Thatcher's children. I do not know if the term Blairism will be used in twenty years time or not, but if it is it will probably be used in the context of disappointment and unfulfilled potential with a whole lot of spin thrown in.