UK Politics

Foreign Minister Blair

After the general election I argued that Tony Blair should continue in politics even after he has stood down as PM:

He is surely too young to just head off to some foundation or do the speaking tours of Washington.

Here is my suggestion – Blair for Foreign Secretary in a Brown government.

Finally I’ve found some support for the idea – albeit from an unlikely source, Peter Preston in the Guardian today:

In logic then, a politically silly question crops up. Why does Blair need to “retire”? Why doesn’t he become part of the ultimate job swap? PM Brown and Foreign Secretary Blair?

Now, of course, that whole notion does indeed seem pretty daffy, at first and at second sight. Surely Gordon wouldn’t wear it; surely Tony would snort with derision? You can feel the Daily Mail and Tribune grow apoplectic in a trice. But somehow, though I know all the grim realities, a second-phase question nags away.

If time – in Europe, in Africa – is the enemy, why are we calling “time” so heedlessly fast? The really grim reality is that very little can be achieved on either front before the PM gives up, and that making progress thereafter – from Nairobi to Brussels – will be made no easier by his going. The obvious reality is that tackling European reform, from rebates to enlargement to inevitable change, looks a back-breaking task that will need presence, concentration and determination over years (not some cursory appendage to a Brown’s pending premiership). The blinding reality is that the past few weeks have made the Foreign Office the place that every mover and shaker should want to be, just as vital as the Treasury ruled by a semi-autonomous Brown.

Still impossible? Ask the modern shade of Alec Douglas-Home, prime minister of Britain, then Ted Heath’s foreign secretary for four more fruitful years of public service. There is always time, if you choose to make it, in the land of time enough.