The worst thing you have ever done

Think of the worst thing you have ever done.

It’s not a nice thought, is it?

Well, don’t worry, you are more than that. Like everybody, you have made mistakes, but you have also done amazing things. As Sr. Helen Prejean says, “people are more than the worst thing they have ever done in their lives”. I do not believe anyone should be judged solely on their darkest moments, on their worst failings, but on the sum of their life.

So when I saw this image doing the rounds among Labour voting friends on Facebook the other day, I felt deeply uncomfortable.

We know, with hindsight, that the Iraq War was misinformed and unjustified. We know that Tony Blair ‘sexed up’ evidence in order to convince the country to back a war which turned Iraq into a failed state. Even at the time, many people were not persuaded by the case for war.

It is right that Tony Blair be held accountable for his part in the whole sorry affair. I do not doubt he holds himself responsible for what has followed. It is right that we learn lessons from Iraq (though I would argue we have now turned to far the other way, heeding only the lessons from Iraq, and ignoring lessons from Bosnia, from Sierra Leone, from Rwanda).

But it is not right that the good which Tony Blair’s government achieved be soured by this failing. From the Northern Ireland peace process, through to the national minimum wage, the Labour Government which closed the 20th century achieved a great deal which was positive.

What’s more, the legacy of Iraq should not mean that everything Mr Blair and his senior team say should be decried as falsehood and self-interest. If people have experience and knowledge, they are worth listening to, at least so you can work out why they are wrong.

So please, stop with the vilification. It simply serves to sour public debate further. Everybody deserves a chance at atonement.

People are more than the worst thing they have ever done.


3 thoughts on “The worst thing you have ever done

  1. While I agree with the sentiment of the post, you can’t really give Tony Blah all the credit for the Good Friday Agreement. While he reaped the cudos, the hard work (i e the boldness to make the first approaches and most of the groundwork|) was done (I hate to say this) by the Tory administration…. Yes, Blah’s government did introduce the National Minimum Wage, but frankly that was the only good thing I can remember that they initiated. I said when he was elected that i wouldn’t trust him to sell me a used teddy bear, and I’m sorry, but I think history will prove me right.
    Having said that, I agree, the image, and the sentiment behind it, is not in any way something to be encouraged. I do believe that he had persuaded himself that he was acting in the best interests of this country, and indeed that he was probably a check on even greater evils which the US might have committed had he not been there…..


    1. I take your point on Northern Ireland, but the same is not true of, for example, intervention in Sierra Leone.

      As for domestic policy, I could cite the introduction of Sure Start and the London Challenge for educational impact, massive reductions in homelessness and rough sleeping, devolution, the introduction of paid paternity leave, scrapping section 28 and introducing civil partnership or passing the human rights act.


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