Tony Blair is very much a Prime Minister in the activist tradition that appeared to go into eclipse during the decade between the ﬁnal withdrawal from East of Suez in 1971 and the Falklands war of 1982. He does not, of course, claim that Britain is a ‘Great Power’; the term has disappeared completely from the British vocabulary. But he does see Britain as being in a special league, ‘a pivotal player’ to use his own graphic, if not perhaps literally accurate, phrase.
In doing so he builds on a combination of opportunities: the absence of major international ﬁgures – with the obvious exception of UN Secretary General Koﬁ Annan – willing to articulate a vision of a post-Cold War international order, and the advantage that so many of his predecessors in No. 10 Downing Street after 1945 lacked, of a stable, and relatively successful British economy.