Would the last person left in David Cameron’s Britain please turn out the lights?

Get the hell out of here while there’s still time.

So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, and all the other ways of saying goodbye sung by that creepy chorus of Austrian children in The Sound of Music  – I’m leaving this sun-forsaken country for happier climes and saltier shores. Here’s the good news: there’s still time for you to join me, and the flock of other expatriates making their way to countries with illiberal rights records and economic growth. So hitch up your caravan to a hornéd beast, tie your worldly possessions bulgingly to its flanks, and clad your teenage children with ill-fitting rags: it’s time to vacate this blessed plot.  

Now I realise I’m arguing against some deeply engrained prejudices in asking you to leave the UK. You’re probably thinking: filthy, lazy emigrants, leaving here, quitting their jobs, speaking our language, sending their money back into our country, easing the pressure on the NHS, educating their kids in someone else’s schools, what a disgusting way to live.  

So I’ve assembled several convincing arguments to show you that life’s better when it’s conducted elsewhere. Let the British Diaspora commence: let’s begin a stampede that will lead to David Cameron getting his head stuck inside a light bulb on the front page of the Sun. (In hindsight, it was only ever a matter of time until someone realised that Neil Kinnock’s head was exactly light bulb-shaped. The moral: don’t go into politics if you have a light bulb-shaped head. Democracy, eh?)

Here goes:

The Economy

We are living in a post-industrial, post-Fordist, Post Office closure economy, overseen by a smug 12-year old with an eminently punchable face, a 2:1 in History, and no other qualifications or real world experience; a 12-year old who considers his gap year the most exciting time of his life, and who regards quarterly growth of less than half of one per cent as a vindication of his existing prejudices. But many other Conservative Chancellors lacked training in economics, pleads Osborne’s biographer, Janan Ganesh. Yes. They were also crap. Norman Lamont’s career, for example, makes most sense if you assume that he was in fact a troll, offering opinions so patently contrary-to-fact that they must have been intended exclusively to enrage. “There are going to be no devaluations, no leaving the ERM.” What could this have been but a dark joke, or a work of conceptual art? We should be grateful that none of his Budgets contained Rick Astley videos.

And another thing. This last year, the price of a can of tuna has increased from around 60p to at least £1.20. That’s Quantitative Easing for you. Cheers, Monetary Policy Committee.

The Weather

On the Eighth Day, God turned down the saturation levels all across the UK, so that it would forever experience a sort of grey, Purgatorial permagloom. And He saw that it was oppressive. And He did nothing about it.  

Michael Gove’s face

Which is a synecdoche for our parliamentary system entire. In which small children hurl playground insults at one another, while an even smaller child tells them off for being too noisy. What happened to the elegant, innovative putdowns of Benjamin Disraeli, who once boasted of his opponents that he had “squabashed” them? Politicians used to take their jobs seriously: on becoming PM, Gladstone wrote "I ascend a steepening path, with a burden ever increasing in weight." David Cameron, by contrast, when considering the Premiership, boasted: "I think I’d be good at it." Walking around Whitehall, you can practically hear the sound of Chris Grayling licking his thin lips as he considers another way to make things slightly worse than they were before.   

And then there’s Michael Gove’s face itself. It’s the face of a man who can argue anything, knows little, and cares less. A face that needs glasses to make it look less grasping and unkind. A face untouched by natural light, or benevolence.

Stewart Lee

Thanks to whom it’s no longer acceptable to make jokes about the weather, people having sex, or the suffering of others. Instead, jokes must now be about other jokes, the exact mechanisms of which are to be painstakingly laid bare by analysis of the comic tropes and rhetorical structures they employ. Now, whenever I find myself making a joke anywhere within the borders of the United Kingdom, I think to myself: were the workings of this joke made explicit to its listener, would she consider it a clever, ironic and postmodern comment on our collective joke-making practices, or would she simply see it as a predictable and ritualistic attempt to cause her diaphragm to spasm for the purpose of developing our social relationship? Is its very comedy really just a tawdry attempt authentically to relate to another person, which, in being necessarily doomed to fail, is in fact a source of profound tragedy? Is she laughing with or at my attempt to laugh at my attempt to cause her to laugh with, but not at, me? Cheers, Stewart Lee.  

These are more than enough reasons for you to quit this scepter’d isle, quite frankly, and to provide any more would be to succumb to self-indulgence.

So fly, you fools. I’ll cover you.

Photograph: Getty Images
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Tony Blair might be a toxic figure - but his influence endures

Politicians at home and abroad are borrowing from the former prime minister's playbook. 

On 24 May at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, a short distance from where he once governed, Tony Blair resurfaced for a public discussion. Having arrived on an overnight flight, he looked drawn and puffy-eyed but soon warmed to his theme: a robust defence of liberal globalisation. He admitted, however, to bafflement at recent events in the world. "I thought I was pretty good at politics. But I look at politics today and I’m not sure I understand it."

Blair lost power in the summer of 2007. In the ensuing nine years, he lost reputation. His business ventures and alliances with autocrats have made him a pariah among both the public and his party. A YouGov poll published last year found that 61 per cent of voters regarded Blair as an electoral liability, while just 14 per cent viewed him as an asset. In contrast, John Major, whom he defeated by a landslide in 1997, had a neutral net rating of zero. It is ever harder to recall that Blair won not one general election (he is the only living Labour leader to have done so) but three.

His standing is likely to diminish further when the Iraq inquiry report is published on 6 July. Advance leaks to the Sunday Times suggest that he will be censured for allegedly guaranteeing British military support to the US a year before the invasion. Few minds on either side will be changed by the 2.6 million-word document. Yet its publication will help enshrine Iraq as the defining feature of a legacy that also includes the minimum wage, tax credits, Sure Start, devolution and civil partnerships.

Former leaders can ordinarily rely on their parties to act as a last line of defence. In Blair’s case, however, much of the greatest opprobrium comes from his own side. Jeremy Corbyn inclines to the view that Iraq was not merely a blunder but a crime. In last year’s Labour leadership election, Liz Kendall, the most Blair-esque candidate, was rewarded with 4.5 per cent of the vote. The former prime minister’s imprimatur has become the political equivalent of the black spot.

Yet outside of the Labour leadership, Blairism endures in notable and often surprising forms. Sadiq Khan won the party’s London mayoral selection by running to the left of Tessa Jowell, one of Tony Blair’s closest allies. But his successful campaign against Zac Goldsmith drew lessons from Blair’s election triumphs. Khan relentlessly presented himself as “pro-business” and reached out beyond Labour’s core vote. After his victory, he was liberated to use the B-word, contrasting what “Tony Blair did [in opposition]” with Corbyn’s approach.

In their defence of the UK’s EU membership, David Cameron and George Osborne have deployed arguments once advanced by New Labour. The strategically minded Chancellor has forged an unlikely friendship with his former nemesis Peter Mandelson. In the domestic sphere, through equal marriage, the National Living Wage and the 0.7 per cent overseas aid target, the Conservatives have built on, rather than dismantled, significant Labour achievements."They just swallowed the entire manual," Mandelson declared at a recent King’s College seminar. "They didn’t just read the executive summary, they are following the whole thing to the letter."

Among SNP supporters, "Blairite" is the pejorative of choice. But the parallels between their party and New Labour are more suggestive than they would wish. Like Blair, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have avoided income tax rises in order to retain the support of middle-class Scottish conservatives. In a speech last August on education, Sturgeon echoed the Blairite mantra that "what matters is what works".

Beyond British shores, political leaders are similarly inspired by Blair – and less reticent about acknowledging as much. Matteo Renzi, the 41-year-old centre-left Italian prime minister, is a long-standing admirer. "I adore one of his sayings,” he remarked in 2013. “I love all the traditions of my party, except one: that of losing elections."

In France, the reform-minded prime minister, Manuel Valls, and the minister of economy, Emmanuel Macron, are also self-described Blairites. Macron, who in April launched his own political movement, En Marche!, will shortly decide whether to challenge for the presidency next year. When he was compared to Blair by the TV presenter Andrew Marr, his response reflected the former prime minister’s diminished domestic reputation: “I don’t know if, in your mouth, that is a promise or a threat.”

The continuing attraction of Blair’s “third way” to European politicians reflects the failure of the project’s social-democratic critics to construct an alternative. Those who have sought to do so have struggled both in office (François Hollande) and out of it (Ed Miliband). The left is increasingly polarised between reformers and radicals (Corbyn, Syriza, Podemos), with those in between straining for relevance.

Despite his long absences from Britain, Blair’s friends say that he remains immersed in the intricacies of Labour politics. He has privately warned MPs that any attempt to keep Corbyn off the ballot in the event of a leadership challenge would be overruled by the National Executive Committee. At Methodist Central Hall, he said of Corbyn’s supporters: “It’s clear they can take over a political party. What’s not clear to me is whether they can take over a country.”

It was Blair’s insufficient devotion to the former task that enabled the revival of the left. As Alastair Campbell recently acknowledged: “We failed to develop talent, failed to cement organisational and cultural change in the party and failed to secure our legacy.” Rather than effecting a permanent realignment, as the right of the party hoped and the left feared, New Labour failed to outlive its creators.

It instead endures in a fragmented form as politicians at home and abroad co-opt its defining features: its pro-business pragmatism, its big-tent electoralism, its presentational nous. Some of Corbyn’s ­allies privately fear that Labour will one day re-embrace Blairism. But its new adherents would never dare to use that name.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 26 May 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Brexit odd squad