Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blair has the killer instinct in spades

It seems incredible that James Bloodworth, Editor of Left Foot Forward, should write an article for the Independent about British involvement in the 2003 Iraq war making only two slight references to Tony Blair:

I realise of course that socialists do not subscribe to the "great men of history" theory (or even the great bad men of history).  That economic and social forces alone are responsible for historical events.  But even so, the lack of focus on Mr Blair stretches credulity.

But perhaps the Blair omission has nothing to do with analysing the Middle East.

Perhaps James Bloodworth is really writing about British domestic politics.

The problem of course is that New Labour without Blair is like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark (or perhaps Macbeth without the Thane of Cawdor waded so deep in blood that to return would be as tedious as to go forward).

Look at it from the New Labour perspective.

Since the Brown coup of 2008 (in which the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was changed without any input from the electorate) the New Labour project has been in abeyance. 

There has been a partial clear-out at the top.  Policies have been rebranded and reformulated (and mixed with some genuine socialism).  The party has been urged to rally around Ed Miliband and push for victory in 2015.

Unfortunately this strategy has not worked.

This is no fault of Ed Miliband, who is a decent and intelligent man (one might hesitate to go on a raucous pub session with Nigel, but one could certainly go to a temperance wine bar with Ed and discuss endogenous growth theory over a cucumber and lemongrass smoothie).

And this is the trouble with Ed - he is too civilised.

He lacks the killer instinct.

Whereas Blair has the killer instinct in spades (obviously, which is why James Bloodworth is not credible in seeking to uncouple the Blair name from Iraq).

So assuming Labour lose in 2015, how should New Labour react?  Is it possible for them to wrest back control of the party?  Most of the Blair second division are still around (as Rachel Reeves demonstrated with her hit-the-feckless-young-chavs policy discussed on the Today programme this morning).  The old guard are hovering ready to give a hand - as Peter Mandelson did on Newsnight yesterday with his studious refusal to endorse Ed in any way other than in terms of faintly amused patronage.  There is even a king-over-the-water waiting in New York with a record of saintly good works in a Thunderbirds-allusive organisation.  But they still need Tony Blair.

And so we are seeing a drive to sanitise the old EXPLETIVE DELETED.

After a 2015 defeat Ed is out, and because he will resign honourably that will allow David Miliband to come back without any of the jibes about fratricide.  New Labour will be back with a brand new slew of imaginative corporate policies designed to out-Tory the Tories (but hey, in user-friendly socially-aware "people's libertarianism" sort of way).  A cleansed and perfumed Tony Blair will be in the House of Lords and following a New Labour victory will be offered Foreign Secretary sitting in the upper house (just as Lord Carrington did in the 1980s).

Lenin once wrote: "The road to Paris lies through Peking."  Perhaps James Bloodworth is adapting this maxim and calculating the road to Downing Street (for New Labour) lies through Baghdad.  And so we are seeing attempts to detoxify Mr Blair and make him palatable to the Labour activists.

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