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Posts Tagged ‘Tony Blair’

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have been tarnished by office (John Prescott), died (Robin Cook), or gone to foreign shores (Bryan Gould) and have not been replaced by a younger group.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 »

The world after Saddam, Blair and the Iraq invasion

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, February 16th 2013

February 15th 2003 was a moment in global history: a rare articulation of political connectedness and consciousness.

From London to Glasgow to Ullapool to New York, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Tokyo, people took to the streets to protest about the Blair-Bush march to war with Saddam Hussein’s brutal Iraqi dictatorship.

Bush and Blair were determined on war; Bush to complete the job his father didn’t in the first Gulf War; Blair as a true believer in liberal intervention and enlightened imperialism investing his political being in the notion of the power of military force to do good. This was an intoxicating fix that Blair had earlier got in his Prime Ministership due to the Kosovo and Sierra Leone conflicts.

At the last minute with the clock ticking, Bush offered Blair a way out for Britain militarily, only for Blair to respond, ‘I’m here to the very end’. A self-obsessed Alastair Campbell recorded in his diaries on the day of the marches after a run, ‘I bumped into the end of people coming back from the march faces full of self-righteousness’. Read the rest of this entry »

The Blairite Ascendancy Goes On and How We Have to Stop It

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, January 21st 2011

What a fascinating end to a watershed week in British politics. A week shaped by the continued Blairite dominance of British politics. Cameron’s ‘modernisation’ of the health service opened the week, and Blair’s evidence to the Chilcot inquiry and Andy Coulson’s resignation, David Cameron’s Head of Communications, closed it.

The Blairite ascendancy continues shorn of its New Labour platform. In many respects this worldview does not now need to be rooted in any one political party to maintain its stranglehold. Leaders of power whether Cameron or Clegg, or business people and media know the way the world works; it does not really matter to them that there are significant reservations in large parts of the Conservative and Lib Dem parties or elsewhere.

I listened to most of Tony Blair’s evidence today to Chilcot; that is I listened to all the BBC coverage that wasn’t taken up with the resignation of Andy Coulson. It was a fascinating juxtaposition; the collision of two mutually admiring forces one of which shaped, even created the other; and of course to the end Coulson was following the brazen New Labour hymn book, finding a good day ‘to bury bad news’: himself. Read the rest of this entry »

The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party
Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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