by RAY FLEMING
JUNE 27th is the great day. Between now and then Tony Blair is going on a farewell tour that will emulate those undertaken in days past by the great thespians before giving their “positively final performance”. And that's an appropriate analogy because above all else Mr Blair is an actor playing the role of a politician. Looking at Blair's years as Labour Party leader, it can be said that he helped to make Labour electable, after the groundwork had been done by Neil Kinnock and John Smith. As Prime Minister it can certainly be said that he took the lead in bringing peace to Northern Ireland; that is his greatest achievement. But his claims to have reformed Britain's health services and education and to have reduced crime cannot be substantiated; money has been poured in and some improvements effected but, overall, the outcome is patchy and disappointing. He won three general elections, but the weakness of the Conservative opposition was probably the determining factor in those victories. Against these modest results must be set his abysmal misjudgement in aligning himself with an incompetent and ignorant United States administration in a disastrous war against Iraq and, especially, in justifying this commitment with a lie. He has timed his departure so that during the next seven weeks he will able to hog the limelight at international conferences and meetings at which Britain should have been represented with its future, not its past, leader.