For some reason the Evening Standard made Blair guest editor yesterday — perhaps only a Russian oligarch-owned paper that attacked Ken Livingstone at every opportunity would offer Blair extensive publicity to broadcast his desire that he wants to re-enter British public life. Perhaps that indicates that they perceive Blair more as New Tory than New Labour, and for good reason – his lust for mega-money, his obsession with power for its own sake, his readiness to invade Iraq if that’s what the US wanted, his embrace of big business and the ultra-rich by squashing the unions as representatives of working people, his infatuation with markets and privatisation, to name but a few of his most prominent traits – all Tory to the hilt. But what stands out even more is his blind disregard of how his regime paved the way for Labour’s second biggest defeat in a century.
His inveterate narcissism wouldn’t matter – always wanting to be the centre of attention – were it not that this fantasy comeback covers up a real determination to try to hold the Labour Party in thrall to the tenets of neoliberal capitalism and the dominance of big business to which he is so passionately committed. The Blairite interregnum, following his hijack of the party in 1994, transposed Labour into an alternative Tory party that kep the country safe for the business elite until the real Tories returned – a complete antithesis to everything for which Labour was origninally founded. The Blairite creature, Progress, is now under attack and slowly losing power, and the real motive behind all his efforts to try to cash in on the Olympics is to try to consolidate his shrinking political base.
His interview in the Standard was laced with soft euphemisms which conceal this message. “You still have to have a strong allicance with business as well as the unions” (code for: pander to business and bash the unions). “You have got to be very much in the centre ground on things like public sector reform” (code for: keep privatising public services). “I understand that some people think the financial crisis has altered everything” (code for: despite the financial crash we should carry on as though nothing’s happened). “Iraq will end up with a happy ending” (code for: ignore that the war was illegal and over 100,000 innocent civilians were killed). Miliband “is going to keep the Labour party in the centre” (code for: my centre is far to the right of Labour voters and many Tory voters, but keep it there).
The Labour party couldn’t make up its mind whether to stay New Labour or not, so it didn’t really and then in my view defeat was inevitable after that”.
Blair is fixated on the idea that if, as himself says, Labour moves a millimetre from New Labour it will lose. That is risible: nothing could better illustrate how far he has lost touch with reality. The truth is the exact opposite: unless Labour utterly rejects Blairite neoloberalism, it will never win again because it will otherwise never recover the 4 million Labour votes that Blair lost and the further 1 million Labour votes that Brown lost. And the sheer arrogance of his saying he’d like to be the prime minister again takes one’s breath away.