What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Westminster for a comeback? (With apologies to Yeats.)It’s Tony Blair. How godawfully depressing.
Here’s a man whose ‘Third Way’ ruined the Labour Party, driving voters away in their millions, turning socialism into a dirty word (by association – there were precious few socialists in a Blair cabinet), and eventually turfing the party out of office for more than six years – so far.
He talks about the Progressive Left but he’s as much a product of the Reactionary Right as, for example, David Cameron, who worked very hard to follow the Blairite model of neoliberal economic policies leavened with social reform.
The philosophy seemed to be, “Give ’em gay marriage and they’ll sell themselves into slavery”, and it seems to have been correct.
Margaret Thatcher, whose project during the 1980s was entirely geared towards the destruction of the UK’s industrial base and erosion of its trade unions, in order to destroy the economic leverage enjoyed by working people in the 1970s, considered Mr Blair’s New Labour to be her greatest achievement.
And now he’s back, claiming that the country needs him because Jeremy Corbyn – the most popular Labour leader, possibly in 50 years – is… not a “nutter”, as Mr Blair insists he has been misquoted as saying, but at least “mistaken”.
He says Labour has been “captured by the far left for the first time in the party’s history”. What utter drivel.
Jeremy Corbyn is a centre-left politician. If he were of the far left, he would be demanding the nationalisation of all industry and the UK’s reduction to single-party state status. He isn’t.
Clem Attlee was more left-wing than Mr Corbyn and his government gave us the National Health Service that everybody claims they love. Wilson and Callaghan were closer to Communism.
But Mr Blair needs to position himself and he wants the “centre left” label that belongs to Mr Corbyn.
Otherwise he would have to admit that he is a right wing politician – and that would play very poorly with his target audience.
But he gives himself away with his admission that he thinks Theresa May is “a very solid, sensible person” – she isn’t. She is a weak leader, from a line of weak Tory leaders, who cannot stand up for a single policy if a business leader opposes it.
Still, her politics is clearly the kind Mr Blair prefers and, after all, Margaret Thatcher liked him and David Cameron copied him. So why doesn’t he clear off and join the Conservative Party instead of haunting Labour?
To sum up, Tony Blair is not a representative of the Progressive Left or Centre-Left. That space is occupied by Jeremy Corbyn. Blair belongs to the reactionary, regressive Right and is trying to hoodwink us all into believing otherwise.
About the only thing he has said that anyone in Labour could support is that the party “has a historic duty to try to represent people in this country who need our representation desperately”.
But look at the choice of topic with which he has decided to re-enter politics: He has opted to take a view of Brexit that is deliberately antagonistic to the established Labour Party position.
Mr Corbyn has said that the referendum result will bind the Labour Party and its duty now is to work for the best possible parting from the European Union; Mr Blair wants people to think there is still a chance the split could be halted.
But look at what he says and you’ll see it’s all bluster. He doesn’t offer any guidance on how the people are to register their change of heart.
He says: “It can be stopped if the British people decide that, having seen what it means, the pain-gain, cost-benefit analysis doesn’t stack up… Either you get maximum access to the single market, in which case you’ll end up accepting a significant number of the rules on immigration, on payment into the budget, on the European court’s jurisdiction. People may then say, ‘Well, hang on, why are we leaving then?’
“Or alternatively, you’ll be out of the single market and the economic pain may be very great because, beyond doubt, if you do that you’ll have years, maybe a decade, of economic restructuring,” so even ‘Leave’ voters “would eventually “look at this in a practical way, not an ideological way”.
And what would they do next?
There is no mechanism for the people to register any desire to change their collective mind if the politicians in Westminster choose not to allow it – and Westminster has said there will be no further referendum.
Why should there be?
We know most of the people were cheated, one way or another, by snake-oil salesmen like Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who promised untold riches and are delivering debt.
But plenty of us were saying this at the time and those who voted in ignorance should know that it is no excuse.
Ultimately, Mr Blair has nothing to say that hasn’t been said already – by Conservatives and by Liberal Democrats.
If anybody wants a real alternative, it is offered by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
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