Poll shows Blair legacy fails to impress

Reply Sun 20 May, 2007 04:17 pm
Poll shows Blair legacy fails to impress

By Ben Hall in London

Published: May 20 2007 22:04 | Last updated: May 20 2007 22:04

The scale of the challenge facing Gordon Brown as he prepares to take over from Tony Blair as British prime minister is laid bare in an FT Harris poll on Monday that delivers a damning assessment of the Labour government's domestic and international achievements since 1997.

According to the survey, 80 per cent of UK respondents said that hospitals were either no better or worse than in 1997, with 72 per cent seeing no improvement in schools.

Opinions on Mr Blair's domestic achievements, at least on the economy, are more positive overseas, above all among the French, who seem even more enthusiastic about his record on growth and jobs than America.

Reform of the public services, coupled with a vast increase in public spending on education and health, has been the centrepiece of Labour's domestic agenda for the last decade.

But the depth of antipathy towards his record (despite substantial improvements in exam results and hospital waiting times) suggests Mr Blair will not secure the favourable political legacy that he longs for.

Abroad, Mr Blair's domestic record is regarded much more positively, particularly just across the channel, according to the Harris poll, which is conducted simultaneously in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the US.

In France, perhaps reflecting its malaise and new-found enthusiasm for change, a resounding 52 per cent believe he has had a positive impact on the economy, and 53 per cent think he has done well on employment.

These ratings are almost twice as high as in the UK, partly reflecting the view of people in Britain that a solid economic performance owes more to Mr Brown's tenure at the Treasury than to Mr Blair's decade in Downing Street.

Nicolas Sarkozy, France's new president, has been inspired by Mr Blair's brand of market-friendly, reform-minded politics and there were some New Labour elements in the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Ségolène Royal, the Socialist candidate.

But admiration for Britain's prosperity and low unemployment does not translate into personal support for Mr Blair. Only 17 per cent of French people would vote for him if he were running for office in France, the survey suggests.

Predictably, Mr Blair scores particularly badly on foreign policy, with only 15 per cent of UK respondents concluding that he has had a positive effect.

Such a poor rating -- attributable to Iraq -- reinforces the argument that foreign policy has been Mr Blair's undoing.

Opinion elsewhere in Europe is only slightly more positive for Mr Blair. Only 18 per cent of French and 22 per cent of German respondents thought he had had a positive impact on foreign policy. But this rose to 37 per cent in the US, with which Britain joined forces to invade Iraq in 2003.

Mr Blair fares slightly better when rated on his contribution to Europe.

But for the most pro-European British prime minister for a generation, who pledged to put Britain at the heart of Europe, it will be disappointing to learn that only 14 per cent of French respondents and 19 per cent of Germans believe he has had a positive impact on the continent.



Mr Blair will be shocked!
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cicerone imposter
Reply Sun 20 May, 2007 05:30 pm
If this case for Blair is so damning because of his support for the war in Iraq, I wonder what will save Bush from his many failings? Perception counts as the graphs shows. Bush has less than two years to go, and as things are running now, it seems Iraq will continue to be one of the major problems for our country. I wonder how much Iraq will influence Americans in their way of thinking on all other issues. It's kind of sad, because I have always thought highly of Blair except for his stubborn support for Bush and his war, and I believe that's what influenced the voters in the poll.
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