Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Can we just remember?

Look, I understand the need of the leadership candidates to move the debate on. I understand the need to acknowledge that we had an electoral defeat (albeit, in historic terms, a very narrow one) and change course. I also understand that in the Party at large, there is a groundswell of opinion which has never been entirely comfortable with the performance of the Labour government over the last ten years and feels it somehow wasn't "left enough". Oh yes, and there a bunch of people, inside the Party and out, who are sore about Iraq. Fair enough.

But, as we scramble to run in the opposite direction, can we just remember that, for all his faults or wrong decisions, this man won 3 general elections and was unarguably both the longest-lived, and for a long time the most popular Prime Minister we have ever had. And that, in many parts of the world, outside of the UK, he is greatly admired and respected (ask anyone in Kosovo or Sierra Leone what they think about him).

So, do we as a Party really need to scowl when we hear his name, up to the leadership candidates themselves? Do we really hate it so much that for once we managed to wield power for a long enough time to do something useful with it? Or is it just that we secretly love Opposition? Perhaps we could also do with a bit of understanding that, whatever the feelings of those in our rarefied little world of the Party thought, Tony Blair had a broad constituency in the country that we will certainly struggle to recapture. "We don't want to recapture it", I hear some say. Well, welcome to permanent Opposition, I say.

At the moment it seems that we are struggling to redefine ourselves, which is how it should be, as the tectonic plates slowly move. But, worryingly, in the debates and interviews to date, it is never on the basis of a radical new list of policies. The candidates are always defining themselves relative to what's gone before - a backwards-looking, unoriginal exercise which is hardly likely to galvanise the electorate, even with the own goals the ConDems are constantly scoring.

1 comment:

  1. It's too much to pin the blame on one man. The New Labour project was based on trickle-down politics: winning over media barons, bankers, and corporate CEOs - but crucially, unlike Smith and Kinnock, Blair seemed pretty comfortable in this world.

    What this meant is that when the biggest economic crisis for a generation took place, the party's leadership didn't have enough credibility to win over those on modest and middle incomes who were suffering the effects of the recession.


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