Tony Blair is a post-democratic product

Why was it that when I read a big interview with Tony Blair over the weekend – the ostensible premise being to wonder if he’d be pulling the strings of a Starmer government – I found myself humming something from T.S. Eliot by way of Andrew Lloyd Webber? ‘You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air – / But I tell you once and once again, / It’s Tony bloody Blair.’ Eliot’s Macavity the Mystery Cat, of course, is a dyed-in-the-wool criminal who breaks laws up to and including the law of gravity, whereas our former prime minister is as upright and law-abiding figure

Tony Blair’s Covid grift

Have we yet seen the end of Covid restrictions? It is tempting to think so. For many people, Covid and the lockdowns have receded into history, replaced by Ukraine and the energy crisis. It would be easy, but foolish, to dismiss Tony Blair’s proposals as the ramblings of a bored ex-PM But perhaps we have parked the whole business in our memories a little too soon. Some are already pushing for restrictions to be re-enacted this winter. The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has just published a paper, Three Months to Save the NHS, demanding that the government consider re-imposing mask mandates on public transport and other enclosed settings.

Boris should keep copying Blair

Having written here at least once before that Boris Johnson is the heir to Blair, my first thought on the Prime Minister’s tax-to-spend announcement on the NHS and social care is a petty one: I told you so. The striking thing about making the Boris-Blair comparison is how resistant some people are to it. Among Bozza fans on the Leave-voting right, there is often fury at the suggestion that their man, the hero of Brexit, is anything like the Europhile they used to call ‘Bliar’. On the left, there is an almost pathological determination to believe that a Tory PM must, by definition, be a small-state free-marketeer intent on starving and

Boris’s lockdown speech was classic Blairite triangulation

Several of Tony Blair’s ideas have found their way into the government’s Covid policy, most notably the policy of prioritising first doses. The end of Boris Johnson’s statement today owed a lot to Blair. Johnson cast himself as charting a middle course between those who think the government’s plan is too ambitious and those who want restrictions eased faster. It was classic Blairite triangulation. The road map is an interesting document. It is initially cautious and the decision to put five weeks between easing measures means that we won’t be able to sit inside a pub until 17 May, a long way from the idea that things would be heading

Starmer needs to be more like Blair to beat Boris

If Keir Starmer has a strategy, it’s this: to paint his party as more competent than the Tories while keeping his head down on almost everything else. The aim of this is to ensure Labour can crawl across the line come the next election, winning a majority with a bit of help from the SNP. There’s a big problem with this approach though: it’s the same one that failed to work for Ed Miliband. To beat it, Boris Johnson need do little more than recycle the Tories’ 2015 campaign, which depicted Miliband in Salmond’s pocket, substituting Sturgeon in his place. The other problem with the ‘do as little as possible’ strategy is that it will almost certainly result

Tony Blair is deluding himself on a ‘De Gaulle-style comeback’

Tony Blair has made a tentative return to the heart of British politics by offering Matt Hancock strategic advice on the vaccine rollout. But does the former prime minister’s ambition stretch further than this? More than a decade after leaving office, Blair is said to keen on a ‘De Gaulle style comeback’. For Blair’s critics, it’s an apt comparison. De Gaulle was the so-called ‘father of Europe’, who led Free France during the war years of the Vichy government. He later disappeared into the political wilderness after 1946 before staging a dramatic return a little over a decade later, eventually becoming president for ten years. So could Blair emulate De Gaulle? You can

Blair failed to save Labour from itself, so how can anyone else?

Tony Blair is at it again. With Labour members currently pondering who should replace Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s most electorally successful living leader once more decided to give them the benefit of his experience, whether they wanted it or not. This time it took the form of a history lesson: to mark the party’s 120th anniversary he gave a lecture on what it takes for the party to regain power. But should we listen to what Blair has to say? For keen Blair-watchers this address contained no surprises: he has been saying much the same things since becoming Labour leader in 1994. As ever, Blair’s starting point was the pathetically