Hopi Sen Vs CIF’s Neal Lawson on Lawson’s “part in Blair’s downfall”


Comment at end

Or –

14th June 2011


Time being short and just to prove I wasn’t making things up in the previous post I’ve put my wheel-inventing toolkit away and throw into the mangle this interesting cross-post.

This is centred around a comment at a Guardian post. Blogger Hopi Sen (his name, not ambition) commented at the Guardian’s (sometimes free) ‘Comment is Free’. Neal Lawson had tried a “not me Guv – clean hands, me – see!” on the downfall of Tony Blair. Hopi Sen incisively dissects and rejects his pleas of innocence.

It was you Guv. Sadly, half the Labour party went along with your crime of careless, biased, non-evidence-based  misjudgement when you removed the most electorally successful leader your 100 year-old party had ever, EVER found (see inarguable PROOF here)

This is Neal Lawson’s post – Tony Blair: my part in his downfall (hint: I didn’t have one) – and more importantly, pasted below, Hopi Sen’s comment, copied in its entirety.



10 June 2011 4:43PM


You’re doing some really quite remarkable rewriting of history here. I’m just not sure why, because not all of the real story reflects badly on you. But I don’t see why you are painting yourself as a passive observer when in fact you were a champion of a particular vision of what Brown might be as PM.

So for example, in an article entitled “Gordon the brave could do what Tony never managed” from May 2005, immediately after the last election, you argued :

“The election forced Tony Blair to say that he will listen and change. But if he was listening, he would know that the electorate and the Labour party want Gordon Brown to have his job. Gordon is a Labour giant. He has enormous energy, commitment and intellectual ability. “


Now, lets be clear- you also argued that to fulfill his potential Brown needed to take the approach you advised then, and still advise now. I happen to think that apporach is a mish mash of cobbled together left tokenism, hand waving and soporific sloganising, but heck, that’s what political debate is for, and you’re consistent in your view.

Then in May 2006 you wrote an article for the independent called “Why we think the Prime Minister should go now”. (the we, in the title is Compass) (your description in this article was”Neal Lawson is chair of Compass, a left-of-centre pressure group, and was an adviser to Gordon Brown “. Bit late to deny it now!)


A year later, after Compass had endorsed Gordon Brown for leader against the advice of some on the left you wrote:

“Brown is the only candidate to lead us against the Tories. Like it or not our job is to make him as electable and radical as possible. I had illusions in Blair. More fool me. I won’t (make? sic) that mistake again. But neither will I write Brown off. “


You say in your comment that “honestly I never tried (to unseat Blair). My enemies enemy is not necessarily my friend. Brownism was about control freakery and the liberation of capital – even though some of it was for good ends. It was bound to fail. I and others underestimated how quickly and badly. But there were no illusions ” It seems hard to square that with repeatedly calling for Blair to resign, getting Compass to endorse Gordon, and calling Brown brave, a giant, and the only person to lead Labour.

If Brown was about control freakery, the liberation of capital and therfore bound to fail, why did you support him in August 2007 when you said ” Brown could be the first Labour leader since Clement Attlee to recast British society – not by taking small steps but giant leaps.” and “Brown becomes potentially the premier to oversee the transformation of British society.”


I suspect you’re right that you weren’t “plotting” – you were doing what you did, out of ideological consistency and the belief Brown would deliver some of your agenda, but the fact remains you were trying to get rid of Tony Blair and replace him with an idealised version of Gordon Brown, and it seems odd to pretend otherwise now.

In fact,position appeared to be pretty consistent from May 2005 to Autumn2007. You wanted Blair to go. You thought Brown wasn’t perfect but was a political giant and the right person to lead Labour, and you wanted to help him develop the new politics you have often spoken of. To that end you rallied support in the soft left of the Labour party.

Then of course, it went wrong, the illusions you had in Blair turned out to be repeated in Brown, and it looked like you had made the the same mistake again, so again, perfectly consistently you said that Brown should also resign. So why are you pretending that you barely felt a flicker of sympathy for the man, and never sought to help him achieve his ambition of becoming Prime Minister?




JohnRentoulJohn Rentoul -It was Neal Lawson, so I thought I didn’t need to read @hopisen‘s response to his Guardian article. How wrong I was bit.ly/jSnSGx
When I told Hopi on Twitter he was fortunate to be published on CIF – they banned me for over a year (presumably for not calling for Tony Blair’s trial or hanging) and even now any comment I bother to submit is still monitored – Hopi sent me this:
hopisenHopi Sen @blairsupporter really? That’s crazy… But then cif comments in where the wild things drone

Just to show that Lawson is not the only Brownite Labourite who gets it all wrong on Blair, this Conservative blog  – Platform10 – has another example. But then the Tories differ from Labour in that the former understand “winning”.

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