Saturday, October 25, 2008


A coinage of the early second millennium, Blairism may be defined as the policy-making equivalent of deductive thinking, whereby reason, knowledge and facts are marshalled after an event to justify whimsical statements, decisions, or judgements made before it. The derivative “Blairite” denotes a (generally slavish) exponent of the practice.
Based on the surname of British Prime Minister Anthony J. Blair, the word originally referred to the prime minister’s habit of generating policy on the hoof - usually in the form of an off-the-cuff response to a journalist’s question or, occasionally, an aside from an American president. Colleagues were then obliged to incorporate the new policy in their departmental budgets, to defend it to the country and in parliament, and to proclaim it as the outcome of deep reflection, exhaustive research, extensive debate, and wide consensus.
During his years in office, Blair’s cerebral eruptions produced such loopy initiatives as the 2003 war against Iraq, the indefinite detention without trial of people the government didn’t like, the suspension of habeas corpus, intemperate promises to rescue Africa from penury and Europe from lunacy, the despatch of tanks to Heathrow Airport, and countless other grotesqueries large and small that events later showed to be misguided. Since Blairism appeared in the language, it has acquired additional pejorative resonances and its adjectival form - Blairite - is often used to describe someone who, lacking opinions of their own, passionately defends someone else’s.
Blairism has survived its progenitor along with the practice to which it refers and for the foreseeable future seems set to remain a grim feature of the political landscape.

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