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8th July 2011
I know it’s politics and therefore not “sexy” but a tweet talking hot and bothered over Tony Blair was irresistible. The pictures it conjured up!
But while we share a cigarette and lie back on the pillow to ponder that life is good, what about this then?
AN ARRESTING DAY
I’m hoping to catch up with a few things before I disappear for a day or two. No, my name’s not Rebekah. But this is worth a mention, don’t you reckon? Just a word or two?
A propos the “End of The World” as we
know it – knew it – Andy Coulson and Clive Goodman have been arrested and Rebekah Brooks is no longer in full charge of News International. Oh, and the present PM – oops, when was the last time I used that time-limited suggestion(?) – (don’t recall but this’ll do) – is struggling to work out how he deals with whatever is about to break next re … one thing or another. I loved this from Mr Cameron summoning up the Ghost at the Party/ies – “The truth is, to coin a phrase, we’ve all been in this together … we have not gripped this issue.” Ahh, but Mr Cameron of the all in this together Big Society, one of us tried to grip the issue of the feral beasts even as he was exiting the scene, June 2007.
Just the usual Friday at the office.
Oh yes. Today at The Progress 15 get-together in London the growing excitement was evident on Twitter.
HE was there. Arisen. Resurrected. Re-incarnated perhaps. It was as though he’d been dead and buried for the last four years and they were about to gaze on the vision, open-mouthed at the wonder of it all.
Of course the press like to pretend he has been six-feet under for aeons, at least politically. Their job is complete, they reckon. Pity they’re as barmy as they are
corrupt misleading. Tony Blair has in fact been doing this – (Israel/Palestine – Quartet) while setting up this – (Faith Foundation) and starting this – (Africa Governance Initiative) while launching this – (Sports Foundation) and working on this – (Climate Change issues) in his spare time.
Now and again the press deign to mention some of the above. Still, it’s not bad for a “dead” man, don’t you think?
Friday, Jul 08, 2011 in Office of Tony Blair
Tony Blair today joined Progress Chair Stephen Twigg MP and over 200 members to celebrate its 15th birthday. Before answering questions from the audience at the Westminster event, Tony Blair delivered the following opening remarks:
Blair: “Let’s get a few preliminaries set out clearly.
Let’s get one thing very clear. I’m a Labour supporter. I support the Labour Party. I support its Leader Ed Miliband. Come the next election I will be campaigning for a Labour Government not a Tory one and a Labour Prime Minister not a Tory one.
I led a Labour Government pursuing progressive policies. A minimum wage; the largest ever investment in schools and hospitals; Sure Start; childcare; a new Department for International Development with a tripled aid budget that leads the world today in development policies; millions of pensioners saved from poverty; a million children lifted from poverty; and in everything from devolution to a Mayor for London, the winning of the Olympic bid, to civil partnerships and the country’s first Muslim Ministers, a new way of doing, thinking and acting. I’m proud of it. We should be proud of it.
Until 1997, in a hundred years of Labour history, we had never won two successive full terms; or governed for more than 6 years at a time. We won three successive full terms and governed for 13 years. As a result the Tories, to win, had to start borrowing from us, not from them. That is a sign of our success not our failure. So when they goad you by saying they’re carrying on my policies, it’s not because I believe what they believe; but because they want YOU to believe that I believe what they believe. So they hope we will relinquish the policies that made us winners and embrace the policies that made us lose. It’s an old Tory trap. Best thing: don’t fall into it.
I remain unremittingly an advocate of third way, centre ground, progressive politics that came to be called New Labour. From 1997 to 2007 we were New Labour. In June 2007 we stopped. We didn’t become Old Labour exactly. But we lost the driving rhythm that made us different and successful. It was not a Government of continuity from 1997 to 2010 pursuing the same politics. It was 10 + 3. So the policies I listed above are universally regarded as progressive. But I am every bit as proud of school reform that gave hundreds of thousands of children a first time chance of decent education; health reform and patient choice that cut waiting times dramatically; ASB and tougher crime policy that cut crime by 35% – the only Government since the war to do so; reforming university finance to keep our universities amongst the best in the world; and of a pro-enterprise and business policy that took away from the Tories the mantle of the Party of business. Because job creation is a progressive project and you don’t create jobs by attacking the businesses that create them. And I’m also proud to have engaged our magnificent Armed Forces in removing brutal dictators the world is better off without.
Some of these policies could be supported by people who don’t vote Labour. That’s not a bad thing. In the real world of the 21st Century there will be some pick and mix of policy. Sometimes it will be less left vs. right than right vs. wrong. Above all, today efficacy – i.e. effective delivery, motivated of course by values, matters as much if not more than ideology. Don’t fear it. Embrace it. It liberates us to get the correct policy. And the best policy is usually the best politics. It is not a betrayal of principles. It is applying principles to changing times.
So New Labour is not, was not and never should be about sacrificing the principles of social justice, solidarity and equality to win. It is about understanding that, in a world of change, if we don’t change, our principles become a refuge from the world not a platform to go out and transform it.
This is true here. It is also the lesson from round the globe. Progressives win when they have the courage to be the change-makers. They lose when the public senses that to please themselves, they retreat to where they feel calm, comfortable and small c conservative, echoing the politics of protest, but shunning the hard decisions of Government.
Of course 1994 is not 2011. Some of the questions are different. Some of the answers are different. The financial crisis, not least, has seen to that. But the attitude should remain the same: open, creative, modern, fighting from what I once called the radical centre, always at the cutting edge of the future not searching for a justification to return to the past. And confident.
Confident enough to be prepared to debate, when we lose, why we lost. Now here’s the thing, there is no point in being prissy about it. Parties of the Left have a genetic tendency, deep in their DNA, to cling to an analysis that they lose because the Leadership is insufficiently committed to being left, defined in a very traditional sense. There’s always a slightly curious problem with this analysis since usually they have lost to a right-wing Party. But somehow that inconvenient truth is put to the side. This analysis is grasped with relief. People are then asked to unify around it. Anything else is distraction, even an act of disloyalty. This strategy never works. Never.
It is often said that when I was Leader of the Labour Party, we were control freaks. In the sense of managing Government announcements and staying on message, we were. But we were throughout always conducting a debate with a perpetual drumbeat of opposition from those who thought New Labour was a betrayal of our principles. I never resented that debate. I cheerfully engaged in it. I enjoyed it. Because I was confident in what we were doing, where we were going and why. Confident that if we carried on taking New Labour to a new level we would carry on winning.
Final point. We should also be confident we can always win. First rule of politics: there are no rules in the sense of inevitable defeats or certain victories. This Tory Government can be beaten. But whether it is or not depends at least as much on what we do as what they do. Nearly always when we lose, we take several elections to find our way back to winning. This time can be different. It should be different. For the sake of the country it needs to be different.
Because understand one thing very clearly. Yes, there is crossover in policy today left and right. Yes there are things this Government does that we can and should agree with as well as things we can’t and shouldn’t agree with. But a Tory Government is a Tory Government. And by the way, is a Tory Government despite the fact that a few political tourists with a faulty guidebook called Lib Dems stumbled into it and have now been press-ganged into being cheerleaders for policies they used to denounce. A Tory Government may support policies like the minimum wage now. Don’t think for a moment they would have invented them.
Progressives will always make different choices from Conservatives. But the choice we make right now is about ourselves. And I believe we can and will choose the future, the centre and a return to the place where the big choices are made: Government.”
Read Tony Blair transcript of speech to Progress today.
- Ten Plus Three, by John Rentoul, Independent Eagle Eye http://ind.pn/mY0isQ – TB revivalist meeting
- Number10gov – UK Prime Minister – Read the transcript of the PM’s press conference from earlier today
Oborne: “I can even disclose that, before the last election, Tony Blair rang Gordon Brown to try to persuade the Labour Prime Minister to stop the Labour MP Tom Watson raising the issue of phone hacking.”
Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)
Tags: Andy Coulson, Clive Goodman, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, labour, Labour future, News International, orgasmic, Progress 15, Progressives, Rebekah Brooks, Stephen Twigg, Tony Blair, tory, tweeter, twitter