Today Tony Blair has made another intervention into the countrywide Jeremy Corbyn meeting which is now dominating the Labour Party. Of course this intervention won’t change the dream of a Corbyn movement which will blast away opposition as it releases millions of non voters from the cocoon which Blairism installed, i.e. making labour electable destroyed the party. The reaction on twitter has been so predictable it hardly vexes me anymore, vitriol has been spewed out at our former leader claiming that he’s a neo liberal stooge, a war criminal and people even wishing death upon him. Is this the face of our new ‘supporters’ bloc? or our new membership? Then again Yougov polling did show that Corbyn supporters describe themselves as ‘dreamers’.
Though this intervention should make supporters of the maverick MP stop and think, this is a man who won 3 consecutive elections on a Labour platform and led our party for over a decade. There has never been a Labour leader who has won 3 consecutive elections, and there hasn’t been a Labour leader who has won 3 elections so convincingly. Blair didn’t win because he was useless at knowing what the public wanted, even after the Iraq war he still won with a comfortable majority. If Tony Blair knows one thing for certain it is how to make Labour electable in the eyes of the public, after disowning his legacy since 2010 we’ve seen the destruction of an electable Labour party and the slow creation of one which was hopelessly lost, directionless, and just shouting about the evils of the Conservative party.
The attack of the New Labour record i’ve also found quite astounding given the sheer volume of achievements which the Blair and Brown administration managed to pile up. The detractors of ‘neo-liberal’ Blair seem to have forgotten or just don’t know that it was Blair’s government who introduced the minimum wage, the outrage over cutting working tax credits is only possible because it was Tony Blair’s administration that created them. It was Blair’s government that spent more while also creating economic growth for a decade, that money went towards Hospitals, Schools, sure start centres, reducing child poverty, and so much more. Labour before the crash also forced the Conservatives to match their commitments on public spending.
The pledge to abolish child poverty was one of vision which critics of New Labour claimed they lacked, and the administration did take a sizeable chunk of children out of poverty. The LSE knocked down the idea that New Labour didn’t achieve a thing for the working classes, and just left poor people by the wayside as seems to the zeitgeist in sections of the Labour party. It wasn’t just the economic situation New Labour improved upon, people often forget before New Labour section 28 was still on the books, by the time Labour left power a revolution in civil rights had emerged for the LGBT community. The HRA of 1998 is also nothing to be sniffed at when we talk about policy aims being beyond economics. Of course many of Corbyn’s fans don’t recognise this because it eviscerates the narrative that Labour has ‘lost its way’ ever since the devil incarnate Tony B liar took the helm of Labour the church, and ripped up the doctrine and scripture
When Blair talks about polling he is exactly correct, all the polling date I have seen hasn’t indicated a shift to the left will win us anything. James Morris’s valuable analysis is just one of a number which shows a Corbyn victory could be a death knell for the party. The Fabians, specific polling conducted for Labour, polling conducted by Jon Cruddas and even TUC polling all shares the same message, we need to be seen as competent on the economy. The friday episode of Newsnight which can be watched on I player also shares a similar message. All of this polling is the equivalent of iceberg warnings for the titanic, of course we all know what happened to titanic when the captain didn’t take note of this. Polling also suggests that too many people look back on Labour’s government with little fondness, the narrative of the ‘left’ of the party and the financial crisis has buried all of the achievements of Tony Blair. Maybe it is time for Blairites to stand up and rehabilitate the record of the Labour government whose longevity was unmatched by any previous Labour administration.
When people moan about his intervention they forget his final speech, when he stated with sincerity that he’d be watching, and willing the party on to win. It is time to recognise that Blair wants Labour to win elections and that he does believe that government can be used as a tool to help those less fortunate than the majority in our country as is shown by his record in government. The smug and glib takedowns of Blair and the answer to every positive word said about him being ‘Iraq’ should not be accepted as a route which we all have to take. Blair is the only living Labour leader who has won an election for our party, it is time to listen to him about electability. Ignoring him like we have done for the past 5 years has sent us towards a precipice where we are now fighting for our political survival, we ignore him at our peril.
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