Bringing Blair back?
Tony Blair has been very much in the news today. Whatever you think of his decision to take Britain to war in Iraq (I think it was the single most disastrous foreign policy decision this country has made in a long-time; though Afghanistan may well yet contest that prize) he showed the usual ability to command an argument which made him a successful leader.
Given the above its perhaps understandable why Labour would be tempted to give Tony Blair a role in the election campaign if only in the rather nonsensical hope he will perform a major miracle of alchemy; turning Labour’s leaden poll ratings into pure gold. Brown might even feel bolstered by the findings of a Politics Home survey which found on 30% felt Blair was personally responsible for the Iraq conflict though 63% in total held the Cabinet and Blair responsible.
However, Brown should resist the temptation to perform this act of political necromancy for a number of good reasons;
- Bringing back past-leaders for a party looking to win its fourth-term of government has the unpleasent effect of reminding people how long that party has been in power. Not very cleaver when the electorate is getting that ‘itch for change’.
- Even worse is bringing back a past leader who in the popular consciousness is associated with a gargantuan breach of trust with the electorate or has committed an obviously huge policy blooper. Just imagine if in 1992 John Major had brought Margaret Thatcher back to the front-line of campaigning. If he had then there is no doubt Neil Kinnock would have entered Downing Street regardless of The Sun’s stance. Although the above poll absolves Blair it does not absolve Labour’s leadership; all Gordon will achieve is reminding people he was Blair’s Chancellor. He may also look diminutive in Blair’s shadow which is less than Prime Ministerial.
- The Labour core vote; the one they need to motivate, doesn’t like Blair and a best regard him as a necessary evil and at worst iconic of everything that has gone wrong with Labour in power. At least Thatcher was still admired and liked by the Conservative core vote.
- It smacks of desperation and sterility and this is the last impression Labour need to be giving in this campaign. They need to master the art of being the party of change while holding power and resurrecting this political ghost wont help.
All-in-all it makes you wonder how Labour’s much vaunted political strategists earn the wages they do. Bringing Blair back would be a disaster….anybody can see that and I hope for Labour’s sake Gordon Brown can too.