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Tony Bloody Blair, again

Seasons GreetingsLike a grinning whack-a-mole, Tony Bloody Blair has popped up again with his ever-so-helpful pearls of wisdom. The groove hasn’t changed for 20 years. Centre ground, blah blah, too leftwing blah, don’t scare business. Someone pass me a mallet. In his Economist interview, he suggested that left/right battles are always won by the Conservatives. The not so subtle subtext being the Labour’s “leftism” disarms the party and it will lose. Take a leaf out of his book; only grey managerialism can defeat hard right Tory governments. In that case, some might say Blair has nothing to worry about.

As Wednesday wore on the retraction came. He’d been misinterpreted, apparently. Of course he was.

I’ve never liked Tony Blair, but nor do I feel a visceral hatred toward him. And now he’s in a position where the only thing he can damage is the morale of those Labour activists who carry a candle for him, he’s an unwelcome irritant. His repeated interventions smacks of an egotist annoyed by a thin popular legacy, an absence of a fond consensus regarding his works. Contrast this with the remarkable rehabilitation of Gordon Brown, for instance. Placed before this relief, one might venture that there’s something of the spite about Mr Blair.

Unfortunately, too many in the business and dubious pleasure of political comment still take Blair’s pronouncements seriously. He won three elections don’t you know, a feat unparalleled in Labour Party history. Under him the party became a properly professional outfit with a crushing focus on winning. At one point he had the Murdoch press, the Express and Star, and even the Daily Mail under his thumb. Yet politics moves rapidly and it doesn’t take long to get completely out of touch.

Having an inkling about the real world was never Blair’s strong suit anyway. His time at the top was one lived in a rarefied world bounded by Number 10, the media, focus groups, and a grovelling cadre of underlings. A universe with its own set of physics, one in which the world of real people appeared to orbit Westminster, a conceit inverting the true nature of things. Yet all that looks like a life on zero hour contracts with a coal shed for a crib compared to Blair’s trajectory post-2007. Since leaving office, Blair has made his millions hobnobbing with Murdoch, Bono, and Nursultan Nazarbayev, better known as the bloody despot of Kazakhstan. What would he know now about middle England, let alone the situation facing people who’ve seen their living standards decline?

The centre ground doesn’t exist. It’s a construct. It might be a useful one occasionally, an ideological weapon to paint your opponents as extremists – as Ed Balls does so today, but it is not a fact of political life unless one or more political parties act as though it is. For Blair, the centre ground was always what he said it was: something avoiding connotations of “old Labour” but did not quite match whatever the Tories were arguing that week. Such an approach won over Tory voters in the marginals, but at the price of doing heavy damage to the Labour Party’s medium and long-term interests. It’s this that precipitated the crisis official politics is facing.

If you think about the centre ground as a point in the political spectrum most people’s views are located, you’re treating with a nonsensical chimera. A majority does, wrongly, believe austerity to be necessary. And yet are also appalled by the excess of big business, know life is tough, and expect something to be done about it. They also want the NHS protected and the housing crisis eased. You might argue this positioning is well to the left of the government’s impoverished small-state ambitions. Then on matters of immigration and Europe, the public in general are more in tune with the Tory positions: keep out as many of the buggers as possible, and renegotiate the relationship followed by a referendum. Both are wrong and are even against the interests of British capital in general, but that’s where folks are. Being slap bang in the middle of politics now means trying to reconcile irreconcilable views, and the one party orienting toward both positions is …UKIP.

Sadly, this won’t be the last time Blair tries to stir it during the lead-in to the general election. His directions alternately signpost the brick wall and the cliff’s edge, but alas none of that will prevent a gleeful reporting of his comments by the hostile press or prevent their exploitation by a Tory machine desperate for any old crap it can fling the opposition’s way. If Blair wants to do his party a service, he can help by keeping his trap shut.

This article first appeared at All that is Solid

Image credit: photo montage by Left Futures

24 Comments

  1. Robert says:

    And yet to day labour have stated they will be a centrist party Ball has proudly stated the Tories have left the center ground for labour.

    SO the death of labour and the rebirth all in what four years.

    I expected it but to hear this peal from Ball’s we will stop the Fuel allowances for the rich and to counter that we will cap Child benefits to 1% for the poor nice one .

    Labour could not stay away from Blair he spouted his words and labour jumped into line, The Third way or the Third Reich.

    Funny old world w3hat died in the 2010 election was not Old labour or New labour it was the labour movement.

    The center has been a dream place of many parties in the past including labour but it’s might crowded at this time and the choice is Miliband the weakest leader I’ve ever known against Cameron not the best I’ve seen but a dam sight better then Miliband . labour or Tories my own feeling it will be Cameron.

  2. Ric Euteneuer says:

    How this is supposed to help in the run up to the election is anyone’s guess but “Blairite in criticism of non-Blairite shocka !” I hope the cretins over at his thinktank Progress are proud of themselves. He (Blair) is still bitter and twisted that we didn’t elect David as his successor, and still labours (sic) under the misapprehension that if only we were to ditch Ed and replace him with his brother (or someone similar) the Party will win the election.
    He may be right that public opinion of the voting classes hasn’t fundamentally shifted, but what he hasn’t (and will not address) are the huge swathe of non-voters, many of whom are traditional voters who voted Fib Dem as a protest previously, who have been traduced to vote for the “BNP in Blazers”, or most of all, have not voted because they can’t actually see much of difference between a Blairite Labour Party, Orange Book Liberals and a Cameronite Tory Party. A left, populist campaign would give Miliband the edge over all of these and deliver the elections, but you can’t help thinking there really are Blairites out there who want him to lose

  3. swatantra says:

    P B-C speaks for us all: ‘Tone STFU’; I say that sincerely, as a Progress member, and former ‘Blairite’.
    You’ve had your 15 mins of fame; now let someone else have a go at making Labour the natural Party of Govt.

    1. Robert says:

      hahahahahahaha god I enjoyed that, former hahahahaha

  4. He won three uncontested General Elections, the first of which had been in the bag since Britain left the ERM, years before almost anyone had ever heard of Tony Blair.

    Never mind “Who else should have won?” No one else even wanted to win. On no occasion did anyone else make the slightest effort to win.

    Not even when, in 2005, any half-competent Opposition would have wiped the floor with Blair. The choice not to do so was conscious and intentional.

    2015 is shaping up to be the General Election that 1997 could have been if John Smith had lived, or if Bryan Gould had become Leader.

    But if there is one thing on which the entire political spectrum is agreed, then it is that Labour should have won in 1992.

    UKIP’s and the Conservative Right’s hatred of the Major years and of all their consequences cannot mean anything else.

    While anyone still squawking that that loss gave Labour the chance to become New Labour (and the New Labour position was always that it had been a good thing that Labour had lost) is now an object of complete and utter derision.

    1. Robert says:

      Sadly looking back is no good, what is passed has gone.

      Blair has been shouting about labour talking the middle ground not moving to the left his lap dog responded with yes we will move to the uncontested middle Ground .

      The middle Ground labour has been dreaming of Blair tried it and Bush came a calling and labour moved to the right, Ball’s and Miliband will think we can sit in the middle on the fence, it’s been tried before and it never works your either to the left or to the right.

      I suspect New labour will be reborn now.

  5. William Jones says:

    It seems some people just don’t want to win in May!Its not about just winning for winning sake.If it was,I’d be of the same mind as some of you!Some maybe happy for Cameron to continue,I’m not!

    Yes,to be truthful I’ve been there,done that and got the T-shirt!I well remember during the 1997 Campaign that I was having all the same sort of doubts.I was in our local Club and my friend who is no longer with us took me to one side and said;Russell we’ve got to bury the Tories and all they stand for.

    He was a far better Socialist than any I come across on these pages.It is exactly the same choice once again.I have no doubts that I will be making the same choice in May as I did then.While cowards flee and traitors sneer, comes readily to mind!

    1. James Martin says:

      The problem is William that 1997 wasn’t about burying the Tories and all they stood for, but ensuring that the Labour Party, under Blair’s New Labour cabal, protected and continued the Thatcher legacy – so even more bank and City deregulation (with terrible results), more privatisation and PFI (again with terrible results), no support to restore trade union rights (that remain the worst in Europe), and an even greater support for US Neo-Cons and their war agendas (so yes, electing the bastard led directly to Irag and the half-million dead of that disaster).

      1. Robert says:

        I cannot forget ATOS and the millions who have had to go through that farce.

        I cannot forget the people who labour stated would be looked after the young men and women injured in labour wars who have had to battle for for compensation.

        This is not about Tories against labour any more it about two parties fighting an election who only reason for being is to government it’s a game the problem is million can get hurt in those gamers.

        Miliband is a nightmare and looking at labour today I cannot in all honestly see where the next real labour leader will come from

      2. John reid says:

        Burying the Tories and all they stood for, they stod for dealing with crime, the right to buy a ciuncil home, string defence, unions balloting their members and the right not to join a union, where any of these things can be defined as socialist. If one didn’t agree with them ,I don’t know,

        The stories and Rhatcher won, we lost, that’s why we lost the 1992 election, where we thought we should have won,
        Regarding Blair, and progress magazine being upset that david didn’t win the leadership, I’ve never been progress and didn’t back David for leader, but various progress people, Luke Akehurst, Peter a wheeler, Ellie Reeves, backed Ed for leader.

        Tic E, elections are thought in the cente ground and Orange book, liberals, Cameron and a blairites all feel they’re ,there,

        Ukip aren’t the BNP in Blazers, apart from their racist views the BnP were very left wing on a lot of other issues, nationalising industries, leaving Nato, etc.

        1. Robert says:

          Yawn

          1. John reid says:

            Politics is boring, so why do trolls have nothing better to do than comment!

    2. Gerald Allen says:

      William;You have got it in one, it amazes me that there are still Labour supporters on here and Labour List that can still think that there is no need to get shut of this vile bunch of vipers that this country have had the misfortune to suffer since 2010; and that’s before you come to the trolls and Lynton Crosby’s army of paid keyboard warriors.
      Like yourself I had an old friend/mentor/comrade,who sadly has departed this mortal coil some years ago but dedicated his life to fighting the Tories all his life, having seen them in their true light,from his childhood in the 20s and 30s and how his parents and their neighbours suffered in their working class communities. He was a member of the Communist party from before the 2nd World War but always worked for the return of a Labour government in the absence of a better socialist alternative. His mantra was that living in a capitalist society with a virulently anti-socialist and ruthless unprincipled media that will do everything in its power to prevent even a mildly social democratic Labour Party coming to power and with the perpetual wholehearted support of the ruling classes tool, the Conservative Party to be their faithful lapdog, “You have to work with the tools you have got, even if it means going into the voting booth with a peg on your nose just to make sure that you defeat these reactionary bastard Tories, again, if it means voting and working for a Labour Party in local and national elections that is nowhere near what I want for the working class/community/society/society”
      That was in the 80s/90s against Thatcher in her triumphant days, yet you still have so-called Labour supporters saying they cant work for the defeat of this load of excrement, who are even worse than Thatcher in their desire to reduce the state and public services to the level of what was on offer in the 30s.
      They must be that thick that they cant see that the vile, evil personal campaign against Ed Miliband is all part of the campaign to force a weak Labour front bench/leadership to adopt an austerity programme the same as this vile coalition, even though after all the last four years of class warfare will be intensified even more should the electorate be crazy enough to vote them back in(though I think they are well and truly Donald Ducked on their 30% vote)
      Bad/weak as Labour are, or may seem, they are the only alternative to this vile coalition and surely anyone with the slightest sense of decency/progressive thought or hope for the future must see this. Should a Labour government try to go beyond their promise of creating a better government and society even under a severely restricted economy and dish up the same vicious austerity programme we have suffered this last four and a half years then if we as a Labour movement cannot prevent them, then they will suffer a worst fate than they did in 2010.

  6. William Jones says:

    Its all very interesting these comments.You would probably think its in the realms of fantasia but a key part of Lynton Crosby’s strategy for the past two years has been to put out enough propaganda to ensure that sufficient numbers of the Left do not support Miliband next May.He knows full well that if he succeeds it could spell disaster for Labour.

    1. Robert says:

      SO the left should vote for Progress no thanks

      1. James Martin says:

        William, it wasn’t Lynton Crosby who called the police to get them to arrest Stevie Deans for the ‘crime’ of recruiting working class members to the Party was it? It wasn’t Lynton Crosby who decided that the Party’s welfare strategy was to to attack benefit claimants. It wasn’t Lynton Crosby who announced that the Party would stick to the Tory cuts policies if elected. Miliband and his senior cabinet colleagues did all of those things – perhaps you need to give your head a wobble lad!

      2. John reid says:

        You’re not left wing you said you’d be voting .ukip, I’m left wing im voting labour

        1. Robert says:

          John you are a New labour drone and to be honest I do not much care what you say or think, your the problem with labour.

          1. John reid says:

            As you don’t care what I think you won’t be offended,by me pointing out, you have to result to personal abuse, when you’ve lost the argument, At least new labour wasn’t repsonsible for getting 27% of the vote against Thatcher in 1983″ define problem with labour, I thought it was letting the Tories win elections, something new labour has never done

  7. William Jones says:

    The lady who wrote the above link isn’t anything to do with Progress.She is like me of mining stock and very much Old Labour to the core!

  8. James Martin says:

    William, I have been a Labour Party member for nearly three decades. I have always voted Labour and will do so again. However, you really need to understand why it is that we are in crisis in Scotland (and it isn’t because we haven’t gone along with the reactionary divisive nationalism of the SNP), and why it is so hard to get support for Labour in workplaces and union branches across the country. Have you tried arguing for the Party in work recently, particularly with young people? And if so what reaction have you had? In my experience right now workers where they will vote Labour will do so holding their nose, but in reality what we are offering is I agree ‘not all the same’ but rather ‘just slightly different’. And that my friend is why there is no mass move to the Party in terms of working class support despite the years of cuts, and no passion among the youth for Labour – because we have lost what little of the socialist radicalism that we used to have.

    1. Robert says:

      Well said and I would agree that most people are not seeing labour as they use to, I was in labour from 1966 until 2010 I left when Brown tried to end the DLA disability living Allowance .

      I cannot vote labour as it is I do not see Miliband as a great leader and the front bench is sadly lacking in experience and ability.

      Jesus for me if I voted labour I can expect Reeves to hammer down on me for being disabled.

  9. William Jones says:

    The only question I’ll be asking myself when I go and vote in May is do I want the Tories to continue?If I thought Labour offered anything worse than we’ve had since 2010 then they wouldn’t be getting my vote.

    I well remember the words of my late sister(May she rest in peace).We happened to be discussing something at home.She said to me;You can’t alter the past,its gone.The only thing we can do she said is to learn the lessons of the past.

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