Tony Blair obviously cannot get over being ousted from the premiership and ejected from British public life. First he attacks his successor Gordon Brown and boasts immodestly that he would have done better at the 2010 election (a very open question, though Labour would certainly have done better in 2010 with neither of them), then he announces he will attend Thatcher’s funeral (only to be expected, as a loyal Thatcherite), and then he offers unsolicited advice to Ed Miliband with bizarre suggestions about the financial crash. We have always known he cannot bear not to be the centre of attention, but having lost 4 million Labour votes between 1997 and 2005 he has a confounded cheek in thinking his advice is worth being listened to by anybody.
His latest comments anyway seem to be increasingly muddled, not to say delusional. What is one to make (apart from the verbose waffle) of: “The ease with which Labour can settle back into its old territory of defending the status quo, allying itself, even anchoring itself, to the interests that will passionately and often unjustly oppose what the government is doing, is so apparently rewarding that the exercise of political will lies not in going there, but in resisting the temptation to go there”? He apparently thinks that despite the whole world believing that the worst ever financial crisis was due to deregulated finance, bankers’ recklessness and out-of-control markets, we should act as though nothing much has happened, there’s no problem with the banks (he doesn’t even mention them in his New Statesman article), and capitalism is ticking along fine. He is obsessed with Labour “keeping out of its comfort zone”, by which he means it should stick with his own comfort zone which is Thatcherite free-wheeling capitalism even though that is now wholly discredited – a fact he seems strangely not to notice.
His other obsession is that Labour should always keep to the middle ground. No attempt to give leadership, no analysis of what went wrong and how it should be put right, no sense of conviction or principle. Just huddle around the middle, and pirouette round the findings of the latest focus group. Plumbing a new depth of unmeaning he alleges that the financial crisis “has not brought about a decisive shift to the left, but what might happen is that the left believes such a shift has occurred and behaves accordingly”! The idea that such sententious nonsense is worth attention takes one’s breath away – as the boy noted when watching the the king’s new finery being acclaimed, “But he isn’t wearing anything”.