I’m dismayed to read that Tony Blair is set to be given a “key role” in Labour’s election campaign. Never mind the politics: I can’t bear to hear those glottal stops, the “y’knows” and “kind-ofs” all over again.
The apparent rapprochement between Blair and Gordon Brown was reflected in this bizarre passage in the latter’s speech to the Fabians on Saturday (16 January):
In 1997, my predecessor and friend, Tony Blair, said that we had campaigned as New Labour, and would govern as New Labour. Let me say to you today, we have governed as New Labour and now we will campaign as New Labour.
Does Brown not realise how dated such references to “New Labour” make his party appear? Some of the voters Labour needs to win at the election were two years old when the phrase was coined.
In the post-crash world, Blair has no place on the campaign trail. It was he who presided over the reckless decade of casino capitalism that triggered the hangover through which we are now living.
By the time Blair has appeared before the Iraq inquiry and offered another self-serving justification of his role in the invasion, voters are unlikely to be thrilled by a doorstep visit from Tone. His return to Brown’s side would further alienate the thousands of anti-war voters Labour needs to win back from the Lib Dems.
To his credit, unlike Thatcher, who haunted her party as a “backseat driver”, Blair has so far refused to interfere in Labour’s affairs. Let’s hope he maintains this position.