Martin Bright

Tony Blair: The Next Labour Prime Minister?

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There has been a general consensus that Tony Blair was a class act in front of the Chilcot Inquiry. Even those who see him as a liar and a war criminal must have been impressed by the way he handled himself - although choosing to show no contrition in a room of people that included the bereaved parents of fallen soldiers was a mistake. 

I was not a supporter of the war. Like most people in the country I was an agnostic: I hoped the removal of Saddam would lead to a democratic domino effect across the middle east, but I thought it probably wouldn't. I thought it far more likely that an invasion would lead to the three-way split of the country into Kurdish, Sunni and Shia enclaves. I wasn't entirely right about that either. 

Polly Toynbee says that Blair's reputation has been destroyed. But I'm not so sure. I was not a great fan of Blair in power. I do not share his politics. 

But watching yesterday's performance I couldn't help thinking back to when he first left office. I appeared on Newsnight at the time and argued that there would be a massive Blair-shaped hole in British politics when he was gone. Not for the first time, I was accused of acting as a neo-con apologist for a war criminal. But I was merely making an observation about Blair's political stature. 

I had the sneaking feeling at the time that this wouldn't be the last we would see of him.

In its present mood, Labour will never have him back, but that may just be a sign of the depth of the crisis within the party.