June 18, 2010

AS TONY BLAIR CONSIDERED HIMSELF THATCHER'S HEIR...:

The Darkness at the Heart of Labour (Gerry Hassan, 18 June 2010, Open Democracy)


What does all this say about Labour and the New Labour era? To many it is assumed to be an era – which whatever its rights and wrongs – that is now over. The curtain can be drawn on some of its worst excesses: Iraq, 90 days detention, ID cards and the DNA database. To some it is ‘Back to the Future’ of the warm certainties of Old Labour and the party as the sole vehicle of progressive politics.

This is dangerous, delusional and wrong and was put into context when I undertook a recorded podcast for The Scotsman with John McTernan (you can listen here), who until recently worked as an adviser to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy, and before that in No 10 Downing Street for Tony Blair.

McTernan thinks New Labour were "totally successful" as a political project; his assessment of this is that David Cameron has ended up imitating New Labour and accepting much of the legacy of the Blair era. Any major failings during the last thirteen years were about Brown "the man and not the project", and Brown’s limitations as a leader in his period as Prime Minister.

Labour’s defeat one month ago could have been avoided – if Brown had been replaced after he saved the banks – by David Miliband. McTernan actually said that if this had occurred Labour would have won the election and David Miliband would be sitting in No 10 as we speak. His proof for this was the contention that "the moment Brown resigned Labour’s poll ratings went up from 28% to 34%".

In this world according to McTernan there is no need for Labour to engage in any healing or addressing the wounds and bruises inflicted on it by the New Labour era. Three election victories; the decade of Blair; ten years of growth: it is a triumphalist era the equivalent of Thatcher cut short by an ungrateful party which mowed down the most successful leader in its history.


...and David Cameron cast himself as the Blairite in the race, so the next Labour PM will be the one who convinces England that he's more Third Way than the Tory.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 18, 2010 6:17 AM
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