June 27, 2006


No more coded critiques - let's have an open debate on where we go next: I want more far-reaching public service reform and an interventionist foreign policy. My Labour critics want a change of direction (Tony Blair, June 27, 2006, The Guardian)

In my view, renewing the Labour party means taking further what we've done, putting more power in the hands of the service user - power based not on wealth but need. I want to see the public sector become truly enabling, not controlling, breaking up monopoly provision, extending choice and voice, eliminating old barriers that restrict the creativity of the frontline. I would go further on the law-and-order policies of the past nine years, where we have been more on the side of the people than either Tories or Lib Dems. I would keep our alliances with the US and the EU both strong and where necessary interventionist. I think we have to be a party of enterprise and business as well as trade unions.

I believe these are the correct positions for progressive politics in the modern era. But if others feel they're not the right policies, and some clearly do, let us debate them openly and candidly. That's my point. The time for coded references and implied critiques is gone. Reading some of the recent Guardian articles by those talking of "renewal", they are clearer about what they oppose - public service reform, big business, "centralisation" - than what might be a viable programme for government. At the heart of this account of "renewal" lies a recognisable narrative - the myth of betrayal. [...]

We have a proud economic record, but the next stage will be about fostering public and private investment in science, skills and infrastructure; energy security and sustainable growth; streamlining planning and stimulating private enterprise to give us a knowledge-based, high-value-added industrial and service base.

We have made real progress on employment, education and poverty. But we need to be more ambitious and radical in addressing the problems of the most socially excluded by using some of the ideas of our public-service reforms - greater diversity of provision, payment by results, individualised budgets.

Our model of public-service reform combines ambitious national standards with diversity of providers and giving citizens new choice or a stronger voice in shaping those services. We need to take this forward and adapt it to new areas, like criminal justice. As public services become self-improving systems driven by citizens themselves, we need to modernise central and local government.

We must balance rights with responsibilities. As well as investing in Sure Start, the New Deal and extended schools, we need to complete a radical reform of the criminal-justice system that focuses on the offender, not simply the offence and the rights of the victim. On welfare reform we need to go further with the principle of new entitlements matched by higher expectations.

Our foreign policy must be interventionist, internationalist, multilateralist - and above all driven by our values. We need to reform international institutions to embody these values and respond to the world's biggest challenges.

Mr. Blair recognizes the need to get back to the Right of David Cameron, but his party has stopped following.

Tony Award (Peter Beinart, 06.26.06, New Republic)

The Iraq war has produced three tragic figures. The first is Kanan Makiya, the courageous Iraqi liberal who went home to post-Saddam Iraq and discovered how illiberal Iraqi society had become. The second is Colin Powell, who went before the United Nations to sell a war in which he never truly believed--and suffered the greatest humiliation of his career as a result. And the third is British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Blair's tragedy is the most global in scope, because he is articulating a coherent, desperately needed vision for the post-cold-war, post-September 11 world. It is a vision deeply rooted in the liberal tradition--and fundamentally different from that of George W. Bush. [...]

"There is a hopeless mismatch," he declared last month at Georgetown University, "between the global challenges we face and the global institutions to confront them. After the Second World War, people realized that there needed to be a new international institutional architecture. In this new era, in the early twenty-first century, we need to renew it."

To build that new architecture, Blair proposed empowering the U.N. secretary-general to respond rapidly to emerging humanitarian crises, before the next Bosnia or Darfur spins out of control. He proposed revamping the Security Council to include India, Germany, and Japan--so it better reflects the power realities of today. He urged fundamental reform of the International Monetary Fund. He proposed an international uranium bank that makes peaceful nuclear power easier and nuclear proliferation harder. And he called for a powerful U.N. environmental organization to coordinate dramatic action on global warming.

Rather, it is folks on the Decent Left who are the tragic figures, unable to accept that in the absence of such massive reforms, to make transnational institutions mere tools of Anglo-American values, Mr. Blair is just as unilateralist as Bill Clinton and George Bush.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 27, 2006 8:10 AM

Beinart is trying to square the circle, as a 'strong' Democrat. Those days are gone.

John Murtha has seen the light. Beinart should just give up and go Van Den Heuval. No matter how much he twists, no one is going to listen to him, and all he is doing is imitating modern art.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 27, 2006 11:39 AM