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Posts Tagged ‘Tony Blair’

Prisoners of the Past: Tony Blair, Trump and Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, February 22nd 2017

The past is a powerful force and that is even more true in the strange times we are living in.

Take the waves of reaction and revulsion emerging last week after Tony Blair came back from the cold to announce his new initiative on Brexit. Blair’s intervention took place at the start of the 20th anniversary of the first New Labour landslide, but also bizarrely after the Commons voted to trigger Article 50, and six days before two critical by-elections for Labour and Jeremy Corbyn. (The latter, allowing the Labour leadership if they lost one or both to blame Blair and deflect blame from themselves.)

The Blair clarion call was that we should as a people rise up against Brexit and demand the right to think again. It met a mixed response. There are few people who openly admit to being Blair believers in Britain. Indeed, he seems to have fewer supporters in this country than even Trump and his pals Nigel Farage, Arron Banks and Piers Morgan. How the popular have fallen. Read the rest of this entry »

After Cameron, Boris and Corbyn: What will Tomorrow’s Leaders Look Like?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, July 14th 2016

Leadership in the modern world is cited as the answer to nearly every issue, problem or area of life – from business, to turning round failing organisations, to the success of football clubs.

In the last month, political leadership has been all over the news. There has been David Cameron’s rather hasty resignation; the coronation of Theresa May as Prime Minister; and Boris Johnson’s positioning for power, withdrawal from the Tory leadership contest, and then subsequent appointment as Foreign Secretary in May’s new administration.

Then there has been Jeremy Corbyn’s continual crisis and resistance against internal party critics, alongside the onset of a Labour leadership contest. And in case anyone forgot, there is an election for the leader of the English and Welsh Greens that may see the return of Caroline Lucas; while Nigel Farage resigned for the third time as UKIP leader with, as we speak, no clear contenders to take over.

Political leadership in turbulent times requires numerous qualities. The Tories have cut down their last three Prime Ministers over the last twenty-six years on the subject of Europe – Thatcher, Major and Cameron. It is even possible that if Theresa May doesn’t get the terms of Brexit right in the eyes of some Tory obsessives, she could be the fourth and perhaps, final leader, to be so humbled. Read the rest of this entry »

The anger about the Iraq Disaster isn’t just about Iraq and Blair

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, July 7th 2016

It is hard to envisage now but once upon a time Tony Blair was an eager to please, likeable, pragmatic politician.

In 1997 he caught the mood of the times and led Labour to an election victory of historic proportions, and inflicted the worst ever defeat on the Conservatives, which they took more than a decade to recover from. At that year’s Labour conference Alastair Campbell, Blair’s Head of Communications, leaked a private poll which revealed that Blair had a 93% public satisfaction rating.

Whatever happened? Power, the allure of others with global authority and influence, being impressed by and wanting to keep in with elites and the super-rich from Murdoch to the City, and the limits of charismatic leadership, are part of the explanation. But even then this doesn’t account for the descent of the reputation of Tony Blair to its current nadir.

Iraq played a huge part in the political decline of Tony Blair, and has created an open wound in British public life about politicians and trust which has been bitterly damaging and corrosive. Read the rest of this entry »

Let Us face the Future: Labour, Jeremy Corbyn and the Power of the Past

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, August 21st 2015

This is the most exciting and cataclysmic Labour leadership contest in a generation.

The nearest comparison must be the Benn insurgency for the Deputy Leadership of the party in 1981, where he narrowly lost to Denis Healey. This marked the peak of the left’s influence in Labour – until now.

What is occurring in the Labour contest, with the rise of Jeremy Corbyn and the diminishing of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, is little more than the passing of a political generation, and the main reference points and ways in which the party has understood itself and done its politics.

The Blairite project is over, with the Blairites now reduced to a tiny rump and a few desperate, intemperate followers (Progress, John McTernan). Labour’s traditional right has been hollowed, out with the trade union leadership and activist base who once gave the party such ballast (and brought it back from the Bennite induced abyss in 1981-82) now firmly on the left.

To illustrate the scale of change in Labour, the previous centre of gravity of the party in the Kinnock years, and even in the early years of New Labour (‘the soft left’) has all but disappeared. Its leading proponents have been tarnished by office (John Prescott), died (Robin Cook), or gone to foreign shores (Bryan Gould) and have not been replaced by a younger group. Read the rest of this entry »

‘You’re Fired’: Jeremy Corbyn and what Voters Want to Say to the Political Classes

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, July 26th 2015

This week Tony Blair compared Scottish nationalism to ‘cavemen’ and told supporters of Jeremy Corbyn who wanted to vote with their heart to ‘get a transplant.’

You always know something is up when the political insults start flying. Labour have no idea what has happened in Scotland, and to compound matters for the party establishment, this week saw the rise of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership challenge.

The trigger was a poll which put Corbyn not just ahead of the other contenders in the Labour leadership contest but actually winning it. Now this will not, in all likelihood, happen. Corbyn in many senses has already ‘won’ – by forcing the debate leftwards. He does not want to ‘win’ in the formal sense, knowing this would be counter-productive both for him and the party.

All of this says legions about the state of Labour and politics. First, both Labour and the Lib Dems are heading leftwards post-election. Second, neither is any nearer in working out how to do credible opposition. Both are in the midst of what can only be described as identity crises. Read the rest of this entry »