THERE is no shortage of good television at the moment. Two brilliantly made, and surprisingly fresh, documentary series about the September 11th terrorist attacks, one on the BBC and one on Netflix, consumed a chunk of the early autumn. The spectacular return, and agonising exit, of James Bond, and the disturbingly addictive Squid Games have consumed the adults into October, and the return of the Great British Bake Off and Strictly continue to keep the whole family happy.

In amongst all this, though, I was completely absorbed by Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution, still playing weekly on the BBC but able to be devoured in a single streamed sitting.

The series dissects those attributes for which Tony Blair will probably be most remembered; devolution; the feuds with Gordon Brown over the Euro and decentralising power to schools and hospitals; Iraq; the strain in their relationship at it neared, and then over-ran, the time to pass the baton.

Top of that list, though, should always be the fact that Mr Blair won. And won again. And won again. At his final party conference speech as Labour leader, in 2006, he said: "They say I hate the party, and its traditions...There's only one tradition I hated: losing."

Mr Blair identified the very simple reason for that tradition, which is that the party’s default leftism was completely out of step with how Britons of the late 20th century saw themselves. Most importantly, perhaps, the party was completely out of step with their own (former) voters – the aspirational working classes who voted for Margaret Thatcher because they thought she provided a route-map to them making a better life for themselves rather than waiting for the state to do it for them.

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Mr Blair’s legacy faced an existential threat in the form of Jeremy Corbyn, and Mr Corbyn’s era can be seen as a test of the endurance of Blairism. The theory of Labour’s far left was that Blairism was a historical blip, but the general election of 2019, when an Old Etonian Oxbridge graduate destroyed the Red Wall of Labour seats in the north of England, put that theory to sleep.

With an heir to Mr Blair now in charge, in the form of Sir Keir Starmer, and the only threat being from another heir to Mr Blair, Andy Burnham, the legacy is secure. When they win again, it will be on this platform.

That is impact. It is what makes Mr Blair, in my eyes, one of the five most impactful domestic politicians of my lifetime.

The others meet that same essential criteria – taking an action, against the received wisdom and seemingly against the odds, which changes the course of history and is never reversed.

In no particular order, the other four are the aforementioned Margaret Thatcher, Martin McGuinness, Nigel Farage and Alex Salmond.

Mrs Thatcher will not become a neutral figure in Scotland until we reach a time where generations cease to pass their views on her down to their offspring (reader, you have to be at least 52 years old to have had the chance to vote, or not, for Margaret Thatcher).

But her impact, whether one considers it to have been positive or negative, was genuinely game-changing, partly because of the irreversible pivot of the British economy towards a low-tax, high growth model, but primarily because of her stamp on the global stage, and the partnership with President Ronald Reagan which emancipated the hundreds of millions of people living behind the Iron Curtain.

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Mr McGuinness was not unusual in global terms when he transitioned from violence to politics. What was unusual, though, is the respect he managed to command from his opponents when he was seen to genuinely complete that transition and become a man of peace and reconciliation.

As well as being one half of what was famously described as the Chuckle Brothers, with Unionist stalwart Ian Paisley, Mr McGuinness became trusted and respect by those who had suffered pain at the hands of the IRA – some polls showed his approval ratings amongst the Unionist community to be favourably comparable to those of their own leaders. It is not unreasonable to say that if there had been no Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland would not be the largely peaceful place it is today.

Nigel Farage and Alex Salmond are, self-evidently, cut from a different cloth in their efforts at statecraft. Mr Farage was and remains variably a figure of fun, of ridicule, of hate. But he, more than Boris Johnson or Michael Gove or Dominic Cummings, is Mr Brexit.

His long, plucky campaign, with a gradual build-up of support and threat to the Tory party’s voter base, created the conditions where then Prime Minister David Cameron had no choice but to pledge a referendum on European Union membership in his 2015 general election manifesto. Presuming he would lead another coalition with the Lib Dems, and further presuming that the price of it would be to scrap the referendum, there seemed little risk. The rest, as we know, is history.

It may be fair to say that Mr Farage played a tangential role in the referendum result itself, but without him there would not have been a referendum, and the UK would still be in the EU.

Mr Salmond did not reach the heights of Mr Farage, in that his referendum ended in failure, but his ability to bring the centre with him in large numbers has changed the face of Scottish constitutional politics forever. Twenty-five per cent of a population is easier to ignore; fifty per cent is not.

Mr Salmond’s campaign has left us with a divided country, and the inevitability that the question will have to be asked again. The options on the table, next time, are likely to be independence or a reconstructed Union, and in either case the fabric of the UK will again change forever.

Blair. Thatcher. McGuinness. Farage. Salmond. All yesterday’s leaders, but all genuine impact players. Who are today’s, and tomorrow’s?

We need them, now, to emerge. With a country in need of great change, we need great people to be called to lead, to change, to create an enduring legacy. Whether we agree with them or not.

• Andy Maciver is Director of Message Matters

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.