But Hollande's lavish praise of Tony Blair was revealing about his own political orientation and his potential style of running France. For years, Blair, New Labour and the third way were heresy to most French Socialists. Hollande said Blair was pleasant "and so intelligent he didn't need to be arrogant". He added: "The first lesson to take from Blair is how long he lasted ... Second, he was able, after a long period of Thatcherism, to reinstate education, health and the public sector ... Then he succumbed to the dominant idea that the markets could regulate themselves and the notion that the markets and [economic] liberalism in themselves could be a factor for growth ... We saw the consequences."
In fact, as you can see, his praise of Blair is mixed and demonstrates good political sense. It's important for a party to do what it takes to remain in power if it wants to accomplish anything, and he praises Blair mainly for his mastery of the power equation and for using his power in productive ways, to "reinstate education, health, and the public sector." But he also criticizes Blair for ... "Blairism," that is, the tolerance of too many neoliberal nostrums. To be sure, he has the benefit of hindisght, and he is no doubt underestimating the role of Blairism in maintaining Blair in power. But he is more lucid in his appreciation of Blair than The Guardian gives him credit for.