I think Blair deserved to stay until December 2008 (so he could beat Thatcher's record) but it was not to be. I will always be disappointed about that.
I think it is undeniable that Britain is better than it was in 1997. Isn't that the judgement we should make on Blair in the end. We can always argue this or that would have happened anyway but does anyone really think the Tories would have accepted civil partnerships, raised health spending beyond the EU average, introduced a minimum wage, banned smoking in public places AND avoided recession? Nah neither do I. Despite the extra bureacracy the NHS still performs more operations and treatments than it would have done.
The Iraq war would have happened whatever Blair had done, his decision was to back Bush, he is not responsible for the invasion (who knows, the British presence there may have saved lives in the South compared to trigger happy US troops being there). We may never know how important Blair was in reigning in Bush excesses (stopped the bombing of Al Jazeera TV). Maybe even now Blair might wield some influence in winning support for environmental measures in the US, helping Africa or Palestinian/Israeli peace. But even if he has no influence - turning our back on the US would have cost us influence and perhaps even cost us economically.
2. MEDIA INANITY
I actually find all the focus of attention on the Portugal, Madeleine McCann case rather sickening. This demonstrates the worst aspects of our media and if people are so fascinated they want to hear hourly updates on this when there is virtually nothing to report, then their priorities are skewed. Yes it should be reported and of course we want to see a safe resolution - but this level of media scrum is so pathetic - it is mindless TV when bigger issues that kill thousands of children every year are ignored.
3. MAD HITCHENS
Christopher Hitchens seems to be competing with his loopy brother Peter to see who can be the most absurd. Those few smokers who are still bothered enough to argue that smoking in public enclosed places is a civil liberty issue are sounding more and more ridiculous. Hitchens agrees that staff and punters on planes and workers in work places have a right to be in a smoke free environment but then contradicts himself by saying that workers in pubs etc don't count, he also argues that drinkers have a choice to avoid smelling of smoke if they want to. Well I tell you we do not. It is much more of an inconvenience to try to find a non-smoking pub than for smokers to smoke outside. Of course my inconvenience is not of Hitchen's concern, only the inconvenience to smokers counts as a civil liberty. What tosh!