Five years on from Tony Blair’s resignation, the former, Labour Prime Minister, who served 10 years in office has indicated he wants to return to ‘domestic’ politics – and said that if offered another term in Number 10 he would be prepared to do the job.
In YouGov’s Politics Lab, we put it to you – would you like to see Tony Blair return to UK politics, either as prime minister or in a different role? Or would you prefer that Mr Blair stay out of domestic politics?
Over 1,000 panellists took part in the discussion, and voiced strong opinions both against and in favour of Tony Blair returning to UK politics.
Those against his return tended to hold staunch views, and use emotive, hostile language reflecting this; those who were in favour tended to strike a more balanced tone, in that they weighed up the past, but still saw scope for Blair to contribute effectively to the UK in future.
Read our analysis of what they had to say below.
We asked: Would you like to see Tony Blair return to UK politics, either as prime minister or in a different role? Or would you prefer that Mr Blair stay out of domestic politics?
People taking part overwhelmingly told us they would NOT like to see Tony Blair return to UK politics.
- Participants in our open Labs poll expressed a high degree of antipathy towards the former prime minister.
- Most mentioned Blair’s decision to take the UK into the Iraq war as their reason for wanting to bar him from returning to the UK’s political sphere. Other participants took umbrage with his policies on immigration and the economy.
- The criticism of Mr Blair was also deeply personal. ‘Dishonest’ was the adjective used most to describe him, and many of you said you thought he was only interested in boosting his own profile and personal finances.
- You felt that he misrepresented himself as a Labour politician when in reality he was closer to a free-market Tory, and said that he would taint the Labour Party under Ed Miliband if he were to return to UK politics.
“I think he's a cynical crook who took this country to an illegal war. There is too much corruption in politics as it is without the granddaddy of corruption returning” Howard, Wales
“The man is a complete charlatan, and presided over the most horrific moral and financial decline this country has ever had the misfortune to go through” Anon
“He wrecked my country, spent all the cash, let in hundreds of thousands of unskilled immigrants and illegally committed to a war in the Middle East. I would like to see him in The Hague” Roy, Swindon
“Total disaster as PM – got our military involved in conflicts all around the globe to no one’s benefit but his own, led the charge towards a banking disaster and taxed the middle classes into nothingness – even Thatcher failed to widen the gap between rich and poor as much as Bliar (deliberate)” Anon
“I believe he is a dishonest man and told lies to take us to war and I am not a left wing liberal. He and his cohort Campbell made politics all about spin and lies. He should not be in any politics and should be arrested as a War Criminal” Anon, Newcastle
“Tony Blair showed himself to be a self-seeking, class traitor. He became leader of the Labour Party even though his political sympathies were right of centre. He allowed the banks to operate in regulatory vacuum, took the country into two unnecessary wars, neither of which achieved anything like the desired result. Post politics he has feathered his nest rather than offer any constructive help to the world” David Cambridge
“He is untrustworthy and should have been found guilty of war crimes. Made a mess of the country, and should have joined the Tory party” Anon
“Although he started off very well, he allowed the power to go to his head and began to believe that he was bigger than the office that he held. His decision-making in the end left much to be desired, and rather than face another term in No. 10 he should probably be facing a war crimes tribunal for lying his way in to the war with Iraq. Over the years he became less and less representative of traditional Labour views, and more and more smug and hypocritical” Geoff B, Ashford
“I voted Labour all my life, and I am of the opinion that he had no feelings for the ordinary man in the street. He was also in the pocket of George Bush, and we should not have invaded Iraq. This man Blair is all self; the saying goes what can I do for my country, not what can my country do for me, and the latter applies to Blair. He also has the blood on his hands of all our brave soldiers who have given their lives for our country” Francis, Droitwich
“I believe that Tony Blair is a pathological liar who has convinced himself that his almost messianic self-believe is needed throughout the world. In UK politics, he would continue to destroy our country as he did last time we were stupid enough to trust him” Martin J, Hampshire
There were those taking part, however, who would welcome Tony Blair’s return to UK politics as PM.
- Those who would like to see Mr Blair back in No 10 said that his ‘confidence’ and ‘competence’ are needed to sort out the UK’s current troubles.
- You told us the Blair years were better times than the present, and that he would be better at running the country than any of the current party leaders.
- Many of you said that the Iraq war was ‘a mistake’ but felt that the good things Mr Blair did while prime minister overshadowed the bad.
“I believe Tony Blair was the best PM we have ever had, and is what we need right now in this difficult time” Anon
“Tony Blair made mistakes when Prime Minister. However, he has shown that his ideas are far ahead of any other person who has been involved in politics for the past 20 years. His ideas are fresh and he still talks sense and appears more in touch with problems in society than the present government” Anon
“The country needs a strong leader” Anon
“Made mistakes in foreign policy, has a ghastly wife, was ham-stringed by his agreement with Gordon Brown, yet still stands head and shoulders above the buffoon currently running the country” Peter, Bourne
“By far the best and most progressive prime minister this country has had in generations. Very much underrated for the changes he brought about for the good of the majority of UK citizens” Anon
“We need an inspirational leader; whatever his other faults, he has more power to inspire than the current front benchers of any Westminster party” Anon
“He was in tune with the wishes of the UK population. He has intelligence, strong views and a sure touch. He only lost office because of a perfect storm caused by the print media and Gordon Brown's naked ambition” Colin, Luton
“When Tony was Prime Minister I felt he struck the right balance when running the country. Many say Tony left at the right time, just before the financial crisis unfolded. I feel if Tony was given the power then he may be able to resolve the mess we are in” Neil, London
“He was a very able prime minister, in touch with the country. He fought positively for human rights, and had the right vision for the Labour Party as a caring Conservative Party. I believe that he acted as he thought best with regards to Iraq” Anon
“As far as Labour politicians go, he made the most sense, and he most definitely appealed to a high majority of the British Public. Blair will have learnt from his mistakes (deficit financing), and therefore should be a much more effective Prime Minister” Danny G, Pontefract
And a roughly equal proportion of participants thought that Tony Blair should return to UK politics, but in a role other than prime minister.
- Most of you who would like to see Tony Blair make a return to politics, but not as prime minister, simply reasoned that he has ‘a contribution’ to make.
- You cited his considerable experience in office, the private sector, and in international affairs, and many described him as a ‘statesman’.
- Many said they would not trust him as prime minister, but would like to see him as a front bench MP, Labour Party advisor, or in some kind of role where he represents Britain internationally.
“He has so much experience that I would make him deputy to Miliband ,and Ed Miliband would gain so much from him” John, Basildon
“We need leaders with the skills and gravitas of Blair (despite Iraq)” Anon
“I think he's a consummate statesman who could represent British interests very well overseas” Anon
“He had his time, so shouldn't return as PM. But he's a man with big ideas for big problems and we'd be crazy to lose that” Anon
“I feel he could generate some much lacking experience into politics. Mistakes or not, he is a fountain of knowledge and the current Labour definitely needs some of that. I believe he would now provide a more honest and non-biased view on many issues. Everyone can learn from experience, whether the experience be good or bad. The current Labour leadership would not welcome his return as it would be seen as a threat” Ken
“I believe he would once again become a key member of the Labour party. On the whole, I think he did a fairly good job as PM, and the party has definitely suffered since. I imagine he would not aim to take on a front-line role such as PM or one of the main ministers, but would thrive in a role such as party secretary or something similar” Ryan W, Gloucester
“Since leaving office he has gained some valuable experience dealing with various governments round the globe. With these experiences he could be a good adviser or an ambassador at large” Billy GU ,Wirral
“He has had his time as PM and was right to move on. But he is still a good politician, with excellent knowledge of international affairs, so he may be useful in a capacity such as Foreign Minister” Anon
“I think Tony Blair has had his turn as PM, however I think he would be an asset to the Labour Party as party chairman. I think Tony Blair remains influential in British politics and therefore would attract funding and new support to the party” David, Hemel Hempstead