A reply to Hopi Sen on Blair….
Hopi Sen has a thoughtful and well argued post suggesting that before we ‘move on’ from Tony Blair we need to listen to him. Hopi isn’t interested in the ‘spats or rows’ which may well be the case but is a case of rather hearing what you want too. Part of what I deplore in Blair is that he has timed his book release and marketed it in such a way that like Peter Mandelson is thoughtless of the consequences for the wider Party. It’s Blair’s qualities like his intellect that make it impossible to suggest he would have not been aware of the impact of his attacks on Gordon Brown, especially in the context of a furious leadership campaign. Of course he is but he doesn’t care about that; he cares about selling books and raising his profile. Contrast this with the dignified behaviour of Gordon Brown and my growing admiration for the man, especially vis-a-vie Blair is only increased.
Hopi concentrates on Blair’s comments on the economic situation and how in an interview published in The Guardian:
Tony Blair gives a more cogent, buzzword free response to today’s political and economic challenges than our leadership campaign has developed.
He does expect too much from the leadership contest which would never provide the Party with a fully worked out economic plan. Blair’s comments are not ‘buzz-word’ free, in fact, they are scattered with an obsession with, for example, as seeing the public services from a ‘consumer’ point of view and the urgent need for reform. ‘Choice’, ‘excellence, etc all seem like buzz words to me; they are Blair buzzwords for sure but to lend them an enormous amount of profundity as Hopi does is clearly wrong. Despite professing his love for the Labour Party it is clear that Blair’s affection is conditional as can be seen in this very cagey response:
MK: Does that mean the current government is heading in the right direction on these issues?
TB: I don’t want to get into commenting on what the government is doing or not. What I would say is this. Obviously I believe strongly in the academy programme. I think that, done properly, this concept of self-governing independent state schools is definitely the right way to go. I think in relation to health the single most important thing is that the power gets to the patient. I don’t know enough about how the government reforms are going to work but one thing I am sure is that our health service reforms were heading in the right direction and that that needs to be deepened.
Where Blair went drastically wrong, on Iraq, Afghanistan etc is of course another few kettle of fish entirely. Hopi and indeed the wider Party is free to listen to Blair all it wants but when it does I think it should bare in mind an apposite line from Marx….“The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.”