1. Their model is broken.
New Labour embraced the gung-ho capitalism of the 1990s and early 21st century – neo-liberalism. It crashed and burned in 2008, leaving the theory that you could just tax the financial services lightly to fund better public services in ruins. No Blairite has come up with anything worthwhile to say about what went wrong, nor about what we should do next (except ape government austerity) since. Nothing as much as this fixes New Labour as a phenomenon of the past.
2. The ’centre ground’ is not a static spot.
It was in one place in 1945, somewhere else in 1979. 1997’s centre ground was closer to where Thatcher left it, although nowhere near as close as Tony Blair believed. In 2014 it will be much further away – sceptical about markets and supportive of state intervention, more anxious about inequality than high taxation. And angry – notintensely relaxed about the filthy rich any more..
3. People value security and stability as much as aspiration.
Aspiration is boom-time talk, if it means an obsession with getting ever-richer. Today people hope for a steady job, decent housing and stable communities more than they want a second foreign holiday.
4. Labour’s lost voters are mostly working-class.
Blair and Brown saw Labour’s electorate shrink by five million between 1997 and 2010. 80% of that was under Blair, and eighty per cent was also working-class. An exclusive focus on middle class votes, of the sort advocated by Progress, presents no plausible way back to office. Reconnecting with the ‘core vote’ is the only way to a Labour majority.
5. Blair is so over.
It’s a good thing his name was booed at the Liverpool conference. It shows Labour won’t make the mistake of the post-1990 Tories of being in thrall to a departed charismatic leader. The man himself is now an embarrassment – rejected by the Palestinians, baptising Murdoch’s offspring and obsessed with using his No.10-era contacts for self-enrichment. Time to move on.
6. Iraq is not forgotten.
It can be forgiven (by British voters anyway, Iraqis would be another matter), but only if there is a genuine apology. Too many Blairites are still tongue-tied about their embrace of neo-conservatism. Don’t underestimate the betrayal felt by many Labour and Lib Dem voters on this issue. They will move on when there is a real sense that Labour has – no more pandering to US Presidents, no more ignoring the United Nations, no more lying to the public. We’re not there yet.
7. ‘Choice’ is not always what people want.
They would rather rest assured that the taxes they pay mean that the nearest school offers a decent education, and that the NHS will be there for them when needed, than in shopping around for the most basic public services. And they don’t trust the private sector to deliver – that’s experience now, not ideology, the pragmatically-inclined may care to note.
8. Business support is not essential to winning elections.
At best, the CBI, the British Bankers Association, the Institute of Directors, the Chamber of Commerce and the rest are just another self-serving special interest wanting to put more money in their members’ pockets. Economic credibility may be important, but you don’t get it from being blessed by the folk whose fingerprints are all over the crash, and still won’t own up to it. Harold Wilson was too smart to seek an endorsement from the Gnomes of Zurich.
9. Murdoch-loving was a mistake.
Maybe some Blairites do get that now, several years too late. But they miss the broader point – it is crawling to the establishment in all its forms that gets you into trouble. New Labour prostrated itself before every institution of power that it found – the White House, the City, Murdoch, BP, the arms industry. People vote Labour to impose an agenda on those power centres, not to take down everything they want and put it into law.
10. No, it is really broken.
Every assumption engraved on Tony’s heart has been falsified by the events of the last few years. New Labour = war and slump for millions of voters. Any Plan B Ed M can come up with has to be an improvement.
Andrew Murray is Chief of Staff of the trade union, Unite, and a member of the General Council of the TUC. Until recently, he was also Chair of Stop the War.