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Quote of the Week: Tony Blair

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Tony Blair at WEF“One of the strangest things about politics at the moment – and I really mean it when I say I’m not sure I fully understand politics right now, which is an odd thing to say, having spent my life in it – is when you put the question of electability as a factor in your decision to nominate a leader, it’s how small the numbers are that this is the decisive factor. That sounds curious to me. Surely it should be a major factor because if this is not about you, but it’s about the people you want to serve, then selecting someone who is electable is really important because otherwise you can’t help people; you’re powerless.”

- Tony Blair, a British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007. In May 2008, he launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and in July 2009, the Faith and Globalisation Initiative. He also served as official envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East from 2007 until his resignation on May 27, 2015.

Quoted February 23, 2016 in an article by David Smith in Washington, DC, "Tony Blair admits he is baffled by rise of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn", in the Guardian online.

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Photograph by Andy Mettler/World Economic Forum


Submitted by Nick York on

Tony Blair right points out that without being electable, a politician is powerless. His thinking was no doubt influenced by the previous generation of UK Labour politicians, including Michael Foot, who were indeed not seen as electable and helped to keep Margaret Thatcher in power.

On the other hand, that is not the end of the story...once you are in power it is beliefs and principles that matter. Young voters have recognized that politicians without principles and integrity can't be trusted. Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders are seen by many as having principles and integrity, and less driven by a desire for power for its own sake or personal ambition. Tony Blair despite his many abilities - probably one of the most talented politicians the UK has ever had - was widely seen as power hungry, egotistical and betraying trust on Iraq and other issues, and so have others of his political generation been seen. Chris Christie's latest decision to support Donald Trump is another example. It is not hard to understand why trust in politicians is low in many countries and this is affecting politics, and frankly Tony Blair with his presidential style as UK Prime Minister helped to create that situation himself.

Submitted by aldo matteucci on

One of the strangest things about this quote is the focus on electability, as if it was congruent with governing (or if the former was a sufficient condition for the latter). Current politicians may have electability talents (see Trump), but they acquired it at the expense of their ability for the sustained leadership of the nation.

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