On the one hand, there is this bad news for Blair:
Seven out of 10 people believe that Iraq will prove to be Tony Blair's most enduring legacy, according to an opinion poll for The Independent to mark the 10th anniversary today of the election victory that brought him to power.
As the Prime Minister prepares to announce his resignation next week, the survey by CommunicateResearch reveals that 69 per cent of the British public believe he will be remembered most for the Iraq war. Remarkably, his next highest "legacy rating" - just 9 per cent - is for his relationship with the American President, George Bush.
Looks pretty bleak for Blair, no? His main legacy is an unpopular war. What he'll most be remembered for is a disaster.
But on the other hand, there's this:
Despite public hostility over Iraq, 61 per cent of people believe that he has been a good Prime Minister overall, with only 36 per cent thinking he has been a bad one.
Only one in 10 Labour supporters say he has been a bad Prime Minister, while 89 per cent regard him as having been a good one.
The poll suggests there is strong respect for Mr Blair across the political spectrum. A majority (62 per cent) of Liberal Democrat supporters think he has been a good Prime Minister, while only 36 per cent of them regard him as a bad one. Almost half (45 per cent) of Tory voters believe he has been a good Prime Minister, while 53 per cent judge him a bad one.
And that points up the difference between Bush and Blair.
For Blair, Iraq stands as a major mistake. He apparently decided --for reasons probably neither altogether disreputable nor stupid-- that it was necessary for the security of the civilized world in the aftermath of 9/11 to remove Saddam Hussein from power. He also continued for four years --for reasons that I do not understand, and that no one over there was able to explain to my satisfaction-- to remain on board Bush's war, long after he must have seen how greatly he'd misjudged his ally.
These are very significant mistakes. But they do not define the entirety of his accomplishment during a decade in power.
And evidently the British people see this: despite the fact that the biggest single item in the picture, the overall picture is not one that they condemn. More than sixty percent of Britons see him as a good Prime Minister overall.
But with Bush, it is different.
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