What can possibly be motivating Tony Blair in this election campaign, asks Lindsey German
Obviously not the return of a Labour government, which he has repeatedly and openly scoffed at, denigrated and invited voters to abandon, by voting in favour of presumably the Tories or Lib Dems.
He must at least recognise that his interventions will harm rather than hinder the chances of Labour, given his continuing unpopularity. He has even complained to his former partner in crime, Alastair Campbell in an interview in GQ magazine, that it is hard to be hated.
So his purpose is something else. Seems to me it's a combination of two things: the desire to make as much trouble for Labour's left leadership, and the recognition that liberal anger at Brexit allows for the possible rebuilding of a Blair project. He rightly predicts that if Theresa May gets a big majority this will not be the end of her troubles but the beginning of them.
Instead of contributing to ensure that she is denied such a majority, he is hoping that this will lead to a regrouping of the centre, encompassing Blairite Labour, Lib Dems and some remain Tories. We'll see. I think it would be a very foolish centre politician who threw in his or her lot in with Blair. And the arithmetic of the next parliament, including the outcome of the election, is not at all certain.
Anyway, the return of the Blair Rich Project (he modestly only puts his wealth at £20m) got me out of bed on a bank holiday to take part in a radio discussion about how people felt about Blair. Even his greatest devotee, John Rentoul, couldn't muster much enthusiasm in his defence. I said that it wasn't just the war that made him unpopular, but his neoliberal policies, his pursuit of a low wage economy, his sticking to Tory spending limits in his first term.
Chilcot was scathing about Blair only ten months ago and we should ensure that he is haunted by this. He says he wants to get his hands dirty over Brexit, but how long is it since his hands were clean?
Not the path to progress
If Blair is trying to position himself as the new hope of the centre, there is a more left wing version of this approach, in a letter to the Guardian, signed up to by several Guardian columnists (don't they have any other way of getting their views across?) and Clive Lewis MP.
It seems to me that this is well-meaning but misguided. It comes from Labour supporters, but in reality can only weaken the Labour vote. There is only one case where Labour should consider standing down and that is for Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion. But even then, this would deny Corbyn supporters a vote at a time when Labour's policies are arguably to the left of the Greens. With the Green vote looking to be lower than in 2015, there isn't much case for it elsewhere, let alone any deal with the non-progressive Lib Dems.
In any case, everyone knows this is not going to happen and could only be put into action seriously, well before any election. So its purpose and its effect is a political intervention that is unhelpful at this time.
Their just desserts
The leaking of talks between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker are an embarrassment to the Tories. Juncker told May as he left, that he was ten times more sceptical about Brexit talks than when he arrived. What is clear is that the Tories have little idea about how they will proceed with negotiations, that they will have to deal with the internal politics and parliaments of 27 member states, and that they are not in a strong position.
Doesn't look very strong or stable to me.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
More articles from this author
- This fight will take everything we’ve got – weekly briefing
- In the long run, the class struggle is king - weekly briefing
- The throne behind the power – weekly briefing
- Barbara Ehrenreich: a class act - obituary
- Ten reasons to prepare for a class war autumn – weekly briefing
- The stakes are at their highest for 40 years – weekly briefing
- Starmer backs the wrong side again…and again