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Tony Blair

Press Release - 09 May 2007

Expert comment on Tony Blair’s legacy

With Tony Blair expected to step down as Prime Minister shortly, academics at the University of Bath will be available to offer comment on his political legacy.

The University of Bath is ranked in the top ten UK universities for economics, social policy, sociology, and politics – and can offer comment on topics including politics, higher education, international development and health (see full list below).

Available speakers include:

Professor Richard Whitman – Blair’s foreign policy (particularly European policy)
“Tony Blair’s European policy has been much more EU-friendly than that pursued by any of his predecessors since the UK’s entry into what was then the EEC, with the possible exception of Edward Heath. Blair’s European policy may well be seen as a moderate success story of his administration, transforming the UK’s position from that of the perennial ‘awkward partner’ to that of a ‘normal’ member state: one that has been engaged with a European agenda rather than primarily and permanently opposed to the deepening of European integration. However, Blair has not fulfilled his ambition of putting the UK at the heart of Europe.”
Contact: Richard Whitman 01225 386 490
(see also: 'European policy under Gordon Brown: perspectives on a future prime minister', International Affairs (2007) - contact Press Office for details)

Dr Dibyesh Anand - the UK's standing in international politics
“Tony Blair's regime started with a much publicised hope of a more ethical foreign policy that would redefine the UK's status internationally as a country that has learnt lessons from its history of perpetuating violence and injustices. Ten years on, the dream has vanished. The UK's standing internationally is that of a already-declined power that clutches to the US to have a semblance of international prestige and authority. Blair's uncritical latching on the American bandwagon has harmed the UK's national interest, hollowed New Labour's claim of being different, and contributed to the loss of UK's prestige internationally. History will remember Blair for being an American ally who evaporated whatever little goodwill Britain had in the Middle East.”
Contact: Dibyesh Anand 01225 384 618

Professor Geof Wood – international development
“Tony Blair has raised the profile of International Development in conjunction with Clare Short and Gordon Brown, especially re-orienting the ministry away from the Foreign Office and towards the Treasury and the Global Financial Architecture - thus engaging with global economics and human rights trends. He has brought a concentrated focus upon poverty reduction, but via mainstream support for state level policy, governance and competence through budgetary support. This can be regarded as controversial in the shorter term due to problematic counterpart governments in terms of governance and corruption, but may pay off in the longer term in terms of statutory rights and universal social protection. Africa has been a particular beneficiary of such policy, especially with accompanying debt reduction.
However, these positives are heavily marred by interventionist responses to issues of security and terror, especially of course Iraq. The dubious international legality of this intervention has weakened the case for intervention in Afghanistan, and lessons from Bosnia have not been learnt. Blair has to take personal responsibility for this major foreign policy error, since he has personal belief in this strategy rather than justification via attempting to influence the Bush administration. This has undermined the legitimacy of the UK to enter with confidence the major international issues of our time, including, alas, poverty reduction and human rights.”
Contact: Geof Wood 01225 386 736

Professor Ken Judge - health inequalities
"New Labour came into office committed to reducing social inequalities in health. But after a decade of initiatives of various kinds the health divide continues to widen. What has gone wrong? The commitment to promoting social justice is not in doubt. The diagnosis of the problem is spot on, and the prescription is not far off the mark. But the dose of corrective action has been too weak. Unless more radical redistributive action is put in place the poorest sections of the community will continue to suffer more avoidable death, disease and distress than those who are more affluent."
Contact: Ken Judge 01225 384 809

Dr Linda Bauld - tobacco control
“The UK's first white paper on tobacco, SMOKING KILLS, was published in Tony Blair's first year as Prime Minister. His early commitment to addressing the leading cause of preventable ill health and death in the UK has been sustained through important policy developments such as the establishment of a national smoking cessation service, banning tobacco advertising and introducing smoke-free legislation. However, some important parts of SMOKING KILLS have been neglected. Tobacco taxes, arguably one of the best ways to reduce smoking rates through price, have not risen above the rate of inflation for six years. Policies to prevent the uptake of smoking have had little effect, and smoking rates in pregnancy are still high. National targets set for reductions in smoking rates amongst particular groups by 2010 may not be met, suggesting that there is still much more to be done to reduce the harm caused by tobacco in Britain today.”
Contact: Linda Bauld 01225 383 160

Professor Jeroen Huisman – higher education
“Tony Blair made a very promising start with his ‘Education, education, education’ speech at the 1996 Labour Party conference. At the same time, the Labour party was bound to do something with the recommendations of the Dearing Report. Generally speaking, the government has not achieved that much in higher education but has made many good attempts, for example in widening participation – the impact for which is not yet clear. Probably his most controversial contribution in higher education has been the introduction of top-up fees. There was not much evidence to support the introduction the top-up fees, and their introduction seems to be at odds with the general strategy of widening participation.”
Contact: Jeroen Huisman 01225 383304


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