Whatever The Independent’s disagreements with Sir Tony Blair in the past, we applaud his efforts to play the role of experienced adviser in a new way. In the old days, a former prime minister might have stayed in the House of Commons, or moved up the corridor to the House of Lords, to offer the nation the benefit of their wisdom and experience from those benches.
Sir Tony offers these traditional values in a modern setting, creating an extra-parliamentary model, a foundation to exploit and build on his insight and understanding of government. Some of his advice has been offered, occasionally controversially, to foreign leaders keen to learn the lessons of public service reform. But in recent years his most striking contribution has been to the policy debate in this country.
Throughout the Brexit agonies, his was the most articulate and persuasive case for membership of the European Union, and after the referendum for pausing long and hard to consider the implications of the decision to leave. Then, during the pandemic, he repurposed his institute to work on the policy response to the public health emergency. He led the argument – in an article in The Independent – for “first doses first”, which was quickly accepted as the right way to get the greatest protection to the greatest number.
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