How much Blair hated the left and Labour


12:30 pm - September 2nd 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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It was always obvious that Tony Blair hated the left. His recently published book said nothing new on that front.

What’s staggering is how easily he dismisses even close Labour colleagues and ministers.

Jon Cruddas
Jon made quite a name for himself. It was clever political positioning. To his overall political analysis – New Labour had deserted the working class and thus our base – he added a programme for the party. It was clothed in some modernist language, but was ultimately an attempt to build a left coalition out of Guardian intellectuals and trade union activists. However beguiling – and he was smart enough to make it beguiling – it was, in effect, reheated and updated Bennism from the 1980s.

Douglas Alexander
Douglas was and is a very clever guy indeed. I had tried to wean him off membership of Gordon’s inner circle; but to no avail. It was a real shame … But the Gordon curse was to make these people co-conspirators, not free-range thinkers. He and Ed Balls and others were like I had been back in the 1980s, until slowly the scales fell from my eyes and I realised ir was more like a cult than a kirk.

Ed Balls
He has guts and he can take decisions. But he suffers from the bane of all left-leaning intellectuals. As I have remarked elsewhere, these guys never ‘get’ aspiration … He added a truly muddled and ultimately very damaging party critique. This was the view – I fear tutored by Gordon’s inclination in dealing with the party – that I deliberately chose confrontations with the party in order to demonstrate my independent credentials with the public.

John Prescott
At Cabinet, he would occassionally sit like a grumbling volcano ready to erupt at any moment. The proximate cause of the eruption would more often than not be one of the women intervening. Patricia Hewitt was certain to get him moving … John would make some slightly off-colour remark if he was in a sour mood. I would then bring her back in again, just for the sheer entertainment of watching him finally explode … He genuinely made me laugh. It was a bit like ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?’ In The Sound of Music, though the similarlity ends there…

Perhaps his most alarming trait was his habit of starting a conversation in the middle – no beginning, no context, no explanation of what the problem was. I remember a time when it looking as if I was going to bring the LibDems into the cabinet … In storms John. ‘Where’s fookin’ Menzies?’ he begins. It wasn’t a promising start…

John Smith
Of course, I had no knoweldge that John would die prematurely. Except that, in a strange way, I began to think he might… I said to (Cherie): ‘If John dies, I will be leader, not Gordon. And somehow, I think this will happen. I just think it will.’ Is that a premonition? Not in a strict sense; but it was strange all the same. On Saturday afternoon we went to see Schindler’s List…

* * * * *

WTF was the last one about?

And then there’ his dismissal of…

recalcitrant union leaders, bolshie MPs, lefty activists and assorted intellectuals whose main contribution was to explain why nothing should change in the name of being real radicals

What does it say about Tony Blair’s loyalty to the party and the movement? What does it say about his committment to pluralism within the party?

Even the Spectator Coffeehouse blog admits (which reproduced the quotes) that Tony Blair did “not like the Labour Party one bit”.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


You appear to be missing a close-italic tag somewhere in this piece…

He was the main reason why I dismissed the Labour Party for so long… vindication is rather bittersweet sometimes.

Doesn’t everybody who wants Labour to win elections hate the left?

What really does my head in is that Blair won three elections also thanks (to no small extent) to millions of leftist voters…the same people he so openly despises and slags off at every opportunity.

Which is why, if you look at voting trends between 1997 and 2005, Labour votes plummeted. It’s a simple fact, yet which his book conveniently fails to mention. Under Tony “Magic Touch” Blair, the Labour Party lost 4 MILLION VOTERS and its membership more than HALVED and the downward spiral continued still until the day he pi*sed off in 2007.

Because bit by bit “leftist” voters were starting to desert the party. Blair claims he had the magic touch, but in no way would “his” version of the Labour Party have survived another election. He can fool himself and the public with assorted delirious crap, but it’s interesting that he left in the midst of seriously bad opinion polls and with a re-invigorated Tory opposition (after a decade in the wilderness they finally went for someone more electable and more jovial-looking, David Cameron).

Tony Blair may have been unrivalled in terms of short-term gains,but his mid/long-term impact on the Labour Party has been devastating.

What he did to Labour is the equivalent of the pre-2008 financial sandcastle. Self-congratulatory celebrations that the days of plenty would never be over, look-we-just-keep-on-winning-and-getting-fatter, while nobody noticed that the whole edifice was getting severely hollowed out and the ground was being cut from under the Party’s own feet.

Surely the only surprising thing about this is that anyone should be surprised? Blair and his ilk used the Labour party as a vehicle, like one of those parasitic wasps laying eggs in a big fat caterpillar. Once the NuLabour eggs hatched and feasted on the flesh, the dried up husk could be discarded. They were never in sympathy with old Labour or the values of the party, it was merely a useful construct on which to build the NuLabour project.

The trouble is that project itself was flawed: the good things achieved are far outweighed by the bad, and the philosophical and politcal roots of Blairism and Brownism can be seen for what they are – authoritarian, economically neo-liberal, and prepared to jettison ANY principle if it serves the higher good of staying in power.

With different, or more imaginative, leadership a progressive radical agenda could have been pursued: sadly for the country those in NuLabour were not about to provide it.

No doubt it is in the nature of such books to be self justifying, but you don’t have to believe Blair is a war criminal, or even that he was involved in some grandiose conspiracy to wage an illegal war etc., etc to see that he is in fact a deeply flawed individual. The deeply peculiar realtionship with Brown which did so much to poison his government is an indication of the type of person he is: incapable of taking difficult decisions, totally unable to apologise when he makes the wrong decision, and obsessed with form rather than susbstance.

6. Chaise Guevara

“What really does my head in is that Blair won three elections also thanks (to no small extent) to millions of leftist voters…the same people he so openly despises and slags off at every opportunity. ”

In all fairness, the fact that he dislikes them doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t have courted their votes, or that they shouldn’t have voted for him. He generally looked like the best deal at the time.

And the likes of John Rentoul are asking why the so many on the left have an intense dislike of Blair.

Tony Blair = Ramsay MacDonald Mark II

It’s almost sad to see what a bitter and tragically deluded figure he has become these days.

The Independent reports:

Tony Blair’s account of his time in Downing Street became the fastest-selling autobiography of all time yesterday after shifting hundreds of thousands of copies in its first 24 hours.

The book, A Journey, went straight to No 1 on Amazon.co.uk’s British bestseller list and sold more copies in a day at Waterstones than the former business secretary Lord Mandelson’s memoir managed in three weeks.

Pretty amazing. Who the hell is buying all these books? There can’t be that many lobby journos & political bloggers.

10. Luis Enrique

“these guys never ‘get’ aspiration”

what does that mean? Ed Balls doesn’t understand people have aspirations? Ed Balls doesn’t understand the consequences of people having aspirations? I’m not sure I do either.

“Pretty amazing. Who the hell is buying all these books?”

True crime is a pretty popular genre.

#3
YES

Sounds like Blair couldn’t be bothered with the useless dickhead wing of the Labour party, which doesnt mean he hated ‘the Labour party’, even if the UDs see themselves as the true Labour party.

Might get the book – it looks entertaining.

sl – If you hate the left why do you want Labour to win?

#14 – so do they?

#14
I joined the labour party in the mid seventies, i despised the left of the LP then and I still do. I’m talking about the loony left but sunny doesn’t like that phrase

gwenhwyfaer -

Hah!

A big generalisation but I think Blair is a typical example example of his generation. The people who most admired him were the same type of people who admired Richard Branson another vacuous megalomaniac. The rest of his votes were from people who felt they had nowhere else to go so really just tolerated him rather than admired. The excerpts from the book offer a real insight to Blair and his generation. Deluded and utterly convinced of his own destiny and greatness. Absolutely dripping with a sense of entitlement. The Virgin group grew up with this generation and will hopefully die with them and stop boring the rest of us with their sanctimonious gibberish. What we learned about Blair from his book is that he is an archetypal baby boomer.

There was a golden boy like Blair when I was at school. He was mystified as to why people hated him, but he was a social chameleon born with huge privileges and with a safe career mapped out by daddy. Naturally he was head boy when the time came. He made nothing of the position, just swanning around in his glory. I always think of him when I encounter Blair.

Ted Honderich berates New Labour for its betrayal of the guiding principles of the left by its pusillanimous failure to improve the lot of the most needy. He also bemoans the new politics it has heralded, disenfranchising a whole swathe of society by giving them practically no choice in what the two main parties offer, comparable with politics in the US. I have to agree with him.

Oh Blair I do love you so for the reactions you get from assorted types! He made Labour electable and you hate him for it. Whatever follows for the Party will be deeply influenced by New Labour because of its great successes, hopefully it will avoid many of its failings such as the massive spin, over centralisation and reduction in civil liberties but its mark will be there all the same.

Is Blair hinting he somehow had a hand in John Smith’s death by some horrible political voodoo or something?

@20 Matthew

Saying that Blair made Labour electable is simplistic: it wouldn’t have taken much to make the shambolic wreck of the 80 better than it was after all. The thing is, it could and should have been so much different, and so much better. Unless you are one of the NuLabour ultras who insist that the was only one path (the middle way perhaps), it isn’t difficult to imagine something different.

Sadly people in general, and apoligists for authoritarian control freaks like Blair or Thatcher before him, are adept at insisting that there is only one way to reach nirvana, and it’s their way. It wasn’t true in 1979, nor was it true in 1997.

Matthew,

Labour was a shoo-in for the 1997 election when John Smith was still leader, largely thanks to the work done by Neil Kinnock. It’s possible to argue that Blair’s victory was more emphatic than another leader would have achieved but to say that he “made Labour electable” is nonsense.

FFS,
nu-labour lost its’ core voters who were working-class, not luvey duvey lefties who sucked-up to Tone’s cool Brittania, I’ve got this awful feeling that labour/nulab? will still be associated with that motley crew.
What should the LP do – take the last train to the coast and leave the space clear for a modern socialist party to emerge.

All Blair’s book proves is he was a tory. Tory Tony.

He started a tory war. He now says he did not support the freedom of information act, he did not agree with devolution, oh, and he did not support banning fox hunting. He supports the raising VAT to 20% which is tory policy and he wants to bomb the sit out Iran, which will soon be tory policy. The man was, and is a tory. He even wanted the party funded like the tory party by strange businessmen who bought their way into the Lords.

And like Conservative leaders, after he leaves office he is making his fortune making comical speeches to American right wing nuts. Tony was a Conservative who was allowed to play leader, and now will be rewarded by his corporate masters.

Devolution and Freedom of Information were left over commitments from John Smith’s leadership and it was clear at the time that he had little enthusiasm for them. Banning fox hunting was clearly a sop to his party to try to keep them quiet over the other right wing stuff he was doing.
I wonder how many of the other good things that Labour did in it’s early years in power he actually supported, or regrets in hindsight. I think he was sincere in scrapping section 28 and equalising the age of consent, but the minimum wage? The Human Rights Act? Does he share his feelings on those things in his book?

Blair’s last comment, on John Smith, is truly disturbing.

On what he said about Cruddas; Wasn’t the Labour Party founded to be roughly the 1900 equivalent to a “coalition out of Guardian intellectuals and trade union activists”?

That said I sort of agree with what he’s saying about Ed Balls.

And the bit about John Smith seems like he’s trying to make out he’s the messiah or that he has such good political instincts that he even knows when key figures are going to die unexpectedly.

Actually on reflection I think that Blair is more a cross between Ramsay MacDonald and Anthony Eden. As he combines MacDonald’s perchant for betrayal of the Labour party with Eden’s propensity for starting disastrous foreign wars. This book makes truly disturbing reading. At least some of us saw through him from the beginning, and can say “We told you so”.

31. Missing The Point

@13

If Sunny had led the Labour Party from 1994 – 2007 then you’d have a bit of a point…

Oops, @31 obviously.

34. Clem the Gem

The man is a prize git. Disloyal in private, conniving in public, shameless at all times.
Please, anyone thinking of voting for his fave candidate, D Miliband, think twice, at least. The man is content to sit back and mess up his record for posterity. Time to draw aline under him, and his allies.

35. Missing The Point

@34 I agree.

I’m very proud to say that I never voted for him. Ever.

@31 I disagree. Sunny has no credible high ground from which to criticise anyone for disloyalty to Labour: he has never been a Labour loyalist himself.

@35

I’m confused. You criticise Sunny for criticising Blair because he (Sunny) isn’t a Labour loyalist; yet you criticise Blair yourself at the same time admitting you never voted Labour while he was at the helm? What is your point, exactly?

PS unless you live in the Sedgefield constituency you wouldn’t have ever had the chance to vote for Blair… we don’t elect our PM directly, remember.

37. Missing The Point

@36 I’m pointing out inconsistencies in Sunny’s approach- anyone can do that.

Your point about Sedgefield is pedantic in the extreme. Blair always wanted to be President.

@37

So are you only allowed to criticise Blair from the Left if you’ve always been in the Labour Party and/or have always advocated voting Labour? Because that seems inconsistent on your part, if, as you claim, you have not voted Labour since pre-1997.

Nothing should change? Isn’t that what Blair has achieved?

The primacy of finance capital, a bust following a boom, the poor getting it in the neck, a growing chasm between the rich and the poor.

Yes, Mr. Blair, we have been here before. Why posit yourself a “progressive” when the results speak for themselves?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    How much Blair hated the left and Labour party http://bit.ly/9Sodw6

  2. robwinder

    Very creepy Blair quote on John Smith in here RT @libcon: How much Blair hated the left and Labour party http://bit.ly/9Sodw6

  3. Malcolm Evison

    How much Blair hated the left and Labour party | Liberal Conspiracy: http://bit.ly/bo1aWR via @addthis

  4. Fredrik Jansson

    Blair verkar inte ha gillat sitt parti RT @libcon: How much Blair hated the left and Labour party http://bit.ly/9Sodw6

  5. Gideon Thomas

    RT @libcon: How much Blair hated the left and Labour party http://bit.ly/9Sodw6

  6. Eilidh

    News at 10: Blair is a complete and utter twat http://t.co/eQfWX3o via @libcon

  7. Linda Jack

    RT @libcon: How much Blair hated the left and Labour party http://bit.ly/9Sodw6

  8. Mark Best

    I'd forgotten how much I hate Tony Blair http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/09/02/how-much-tony-blair-hated-the-left-and-labour-party/

  9. Sarah

    If Call-me-Dave really is Heir to Blair this would imply the Tory right should be braced for betrayal! http://bit.ly/9Sodw6

  10. Andrew Ducker

    How much Blair hated the left and Labour party http://bit.ly/9li2go

  11. NewLeftProject

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  12. Finola Kerrigan

    RT @libcon: How much Blair hated the left and Labour party http://bit.ly/9Sodw6

  13. sunny hundal

    This is how much Tony Blair hated the left and Labour party pluralism http://t.co/7RDRddg

  14. alexmassie

    Also why he won elections. MT @sunny_hundal: This is how much Tony Blair hated the left and Labour party http://t.co/7RDRddg

  15. Danny Saxby

    RT @sunny_hundal: This is how much Tony Blair hated the left and Labour party pluralism http://t.co/7RDRddg

  16. Iain Martin

    RT @alexmassie: Also why he won elections. MT @sunny_hundal: This is how much Tony Blair hated the left and Labour party http://t.co/7RDRddg

  17. David Bishop

    RT @alexmassie: Also why he won elections. MT @sunny_hundal: This is how much Tony Blair hated the left and Labour party http://t.co/7RDRddg

  18. Scott Shearer

    RT @alexmassie: Also why he won elections. MT @sunny_hundal: This is how much Tony Blair hated the left and Labour party http://t.co/7RDRddg

  19. Jamie Edwards

    RT @alexmassie: Also why he won elections. MT @sunny_hundal: This is how much Tony Blair hated the left and Labour party http://t.co/7RDRddg

  20. SMS PolicyWatch

    RT @libcon: How much Blair hated the left and Labour party http://bit.ly/9Sodw6

  21. Sean Dolat

    How much Blair hated the left and Labour | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/aPep7ue via @libcon — Exactly. #blair #labour

  22. Kemi

    How much Tony Blair hated the Left – @Sunny_Hundal – http://bit.ly/bt6wL6

  23. Until I can buy Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’ in Poundland… « AngloNoelNatter

    [...] wonder he couldn’t face protests in London last week, the poor lamb). As has been pointed out elsewhere, A Journey shows how Blair hated much of the Labour Party. Convinced that ‘If we departed a [...]





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