Valls and Renzi, the new prime ministers of France and Italy respectively, have made clear their respect for Blair and their intention to follow his example. That’s bad news for the Eurozone and for the EU in general. Blairism is not an economic ideology, but rather a style of leadership that is far more about presentation than substance. So far from representing any new economic ideas, it swallowed the existing free markets capitalist fundamentalism hook, line and sinker. That’s why following the Blairite line in France and Italy, both countries in deep economic difficulty, is likely to be so self-destructive. Free market deregulated capitalism isn’t part of the answer, it’s the central problem. The international economy tanked in 2008-9 because the banks had too much power and negligently and recklessly abused it, and the UK has taken so long to recover because deregulated capitalism decimated British industry in the previous 3 decades in favour of the City of London, whilst at the same time generating the biggest inequality between the very rich and the very poor since the Edwardian age. To regard such a programme, which Blair eagerly promoted, as a model for recovery borders on absurdity.
Blairism was always based on rarefied rhetoric without much grasp (or interest in) the detail of reforms needed. It was a platform for personal advancement and access to world leaders, so any significant deviation from the conventional wisdom or more relevantly from the coat-tails of US presidents was never seriously on the cards. Blair presided over the run-up to the crash which began in August 2007, just a few months after he was forced out in May, so he bears significant responsibility for this disastrous economic collapse. The idea that he has anything worthwhile to offer to a country that is effectively bankrupt (Italy) or in free-fall decline (France) is laughable.
The real problem is that the Left have notoriously failed to come up with any credible alternative economic paradigm. Such a programme must obviously hinge on ditching austerity and using public investment to promote sustainable economic expansion and job creation. Blair is in favour of austerity, cutting expenditure and benefits, and advancing the Tory package for so-called welfare reform, whilst leaving the ultra-rich (like himself) intact. A programme more calculated to bring the masses on to the streets and to lose elections it’s difficult to imagine.