Tony tries again

If you’re angry about welfare cuts, then two things are obvious: those are cuts to programmes Labour introduced, and we only introduced them by being in power.” – Tony Blair, former Labour Leader, former Prime Minister and three times General Election winner.
20150830 Gdn Tony Blair on reality part 1 b0755h 20150830 Gdn Tony Blair on reality part 2 b0597h 20150830 Gdn Tony Blair on reality part 3 b0793h 20150830 Gdn Tony Blair on reality part 4 b0563h 20150830 Gdn Tony Blair on reality part 5 b0475h
Tony Blair says his article published in The Observer may well generate a counter-reaction that only makes things worse, to which he’s probably said, “how can it make things worse”? (‘The Life of Brian’ is a gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it?)
Critics haven’t pulled any punches – “Isn’t it about time TB died … ”
Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday went on record saying “we don’t do the politics of personal abuse“. Oh yes, “we” don’t.
As for the article, again Blair’s focus on reality overlooks the hope he offered in 1997, which was missing in 2015 – and I can’t believe that if he’d been in charge this time around, he wouldn’t have tried to find a vision that was more forward looking than a triple-lock on spending plans.
I don’t accept Blair’s election analysis either – “published polling and focus group evidence about Labour’s defeat … say[s] the same. Labour lost because it was considered anti-business and too left; because people feared Ed in Downing Street with SNP support; and because he didn’t have a credible deficit reduction plan“. I didn’t hear concerns about “left” or “reduction plans” – I did hear the other bits, economic insecurity and lack of belief in Ed as a person – I think Blair pulls a punch here.
There is something to be done about developing an economic approach that makes money work for us, develop activity beyond financial markets and do it in an environmentally sustainable way. Corbyn’s writers have strong points here – the question is whether they can use the Blair skills to fashion it into winning package that adds Middle England to huge parts of London, and the urban North & Midlands for the majority needed to win a General Election. Corbyn’s explanation of how segregated train carriages for women has been tried in Mexico suggests they haven’t got those skills. What at most was a suggestion that should have been treated as case work has now reached a totemic significance which isn’t that far away from the caricatures Labour suffered throughout the eighties.
And Blair does in essence get right that the (protest) movements that are apparently successful in Europe and America are from across the political spectrum; though he doesn’t draw on Bernard Crick who would readily identify these movements as anti-political.
An imperative read, even if I don’t agree with all of it.


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