The Great Leap Sideways
Here’s an interesting fact. Of the three great mass-murdering tyrants of the 20th century, two — Hitler and Stalin — are comprehensively excoriated. Nobody in Germany outside of neo-Nazi crazies publicly admires Hitler (though there is an interesting film coming about the last days in the Bunker which attempts to portray him as a human being). Ditto with Stalin in the former Soviet Union. But Mao Zedong is still a fixture in Chinese state iconography.
There are still pictures of the old brute everywhere, and the ruling Communist Party has come up with an interesting mathematical formula which takes care of the fact that he was responsible for the murder of tens of millions of his fellow countrymen: Mao, says the current regime, was “70 per cent good and 30 per cent bad”.
Which brings us neatly to the question of Tony Blair. The difficulty UK voters will have in next year’s General Election is that, with the exception of Iraq and a small number of other indefensible policies or decisions, New Labour is still the best government likely to be available. The Tories are in chaos and possibly in terminal decline. The Liberal Democrats are, well, the Liberal Democrats. So in the end voters will be faced with the conundrum: is Tony Blair 80 per cent good and 20 per cent bad? Or should the ratio be 30/70?