Newly-released Cabinet papers reveal how the power struggle between the two men was self-evident in the early days of the Blair premiership. They serve as a salutary warning that the working relationship between Prime Minister and Chancellor is the most important in government.
And while many are askance when they look back on the New Labour years, and then the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr Blair’s standing with the public continues to enjoy a revival after a number of far-sighted pronouncements on the handling of the Covid pandemic.
The latest is tasking his policy think-tank with coming up with policies to help cut NHS waiting lists, now at record levels, at a time when health workers have never been more exhausted. “It won’t just be about money,” he told The Sunday Times. “You’re going to have to organise things differently. I haven’t studied the detail yet, but I’ve got a team of people working on it.”
Yet, while Mr Blair has more freedom now that he is free from the burdens of office, he – and Britain’s other former premiers – all care deeply about Britain and consider themselves fortunate not to have faced a pandemic as serious as Covid on their respective watches. It’s all the more reason why such expertise should be utilised where appropriate.
As Mr Blair said himself, he’d be a far better prime minister now, with the benefit of both experience and hindsight, than back in the day.
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