Cameron’s Blair delusion

by Jamie Reed

Among the attributes any politician might both posess and publicly display, delusion is perhaps the worst. A product of vanity and arrogance, delusion is an attribute immediately detectable to the public. More importantly, public displays of political delusion mark the point where the voter and the politician part company; it is the point where the voter separates rhetoric from reality and where political language becomes hollowed of all meaning. Essentially, it is the point where the voter acknowledges that the politician in question sees himself, and the world, very differently.

The principal delusion which afflicts David Cameron is his conviction that he is “the heir to Blair”. This delusion is so deep seated that its effects are visible across the government’s entire programme – from Europe to the NHS and beyond.

LIke all delusions, it bears no serious analysis. Tony Blair (alongside Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson) transformed the Labour party politically, intellectually and culturally. This was a hard, painful process but it was done in the public glare and was very real. In contrast, David Cameron hasn’t changed the Tories at all; a largely unimpressive Parliamentary party is held together through inexperience and necessity, not conviction and belief. Even now, the old fissures are real and threaten, at any point, to erupt on issues like Europe, immigration and gay marriage. As a result, Cameron doesn’t have the authority he craves within his own party, let alone among the country at large. For at least his first two terms, the same could not be said of Blair.

Cameron posesses none of the Blair star appeal as either an individual or an orator. His style, mannerisms and even his accent inescapably root him in a particular tradition which is not shared by the majority of the country. Blair was an “everyman” – he projected his values upon the electorate and the electorate channeled their ambitions and experiences through him. Cameron can never do this.

Blair was an original. Prior to his ascent to the Labour leadership, British politics had seen nothing like him – he broke the mould – and in this way established his authenticity. Cameron’s mimicry directly contradicts this approach and is fundamentally inauthentic. Authenticity is the key to political trust.

The Blair approach to politics – and both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown understood this – was only made possible by landslide victories, and, as such, has run its course. Cameron’s attempts to cast himself as a politician in the mould of Blair is not only factually laughable, it fails to understand that the country has tired of that approach.

Cameron’s Blair-longing only serves to undermine the authority he is desperate to establish. When Cameron actively seeks the comparisson (by making it himself), a wary public responds negatively and this infects everything the prime minister subsequently tries to achieve. A man who sees himself so differently to how the majority of the public sees him is simply asking for trouble.

In Oliver Stone’s Nixon, Anthony Hopkins rants alone at night before the portrait of JFK which looms above him in the White House. “Why did they love you?” he screams.

I’m told the carpet on the stairs of No.10 beneath the portrait of Tony Blair is looking threadbare these days.

Jamie Reed is Labour MP for Copeland and a shadow environment minister.

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4 Responses to “Cameron’s Blair delusion”

  1. Cassandra says:

    Well one thing that Blair and Cameron seem to have in common is a friendship with Rebekah Brooks CEO of News International.

    Here is an extract of her written evidence to the Parliamentary Committee:

    1. Please confirm the earliest date that Glenn Mulcaire was paid by News International.

    … the earliest payment News of the World can find on its records either to Glen Mulcaire or to Nine Consultancy is September 2001. I understand that there is a record of a payment to Global Intel Services Limited (see question 8 below) on 20 April 2000 and this is the earliest date that records show.

    4. Was Glenn Mulcaire ever commissioned by News of the World whilst you (Rebekah Brooks) were Editor?

    I became Editor in 2000 after the date on which the payment referred to in the response to question 1 above was made.

    Now in my personal opinion the answer to question 4 is a non answer. In my non professional opinion it reads like an answer drafted by a clever lawyer.

  2. john p Ried says:

    Although some of the things the Tories were pushing 10 yeara ago like ‘you can’t spend what you haven’t got’ bare a resemebblairlance to reality now, Nu labour had to change the parties image rather than policies, Kinnock having already done hte dirty work 10 years earlier,

    there were those in the Labour ranks who felt even after 15yrs in oposition that it wasn’t the left of the party that had drove away swing voters, the Tories realising this years before we did, Cameron on the othe hand didn’t have a Kinnock to work out most of the Policies Blair implemented so , he’s running around guessing, but at hte same time Cameron only got 1million moe votes than John Major did 14 years ago, For Blair to win he had to get 5.2 more million votes than Foot,

  3. Robert says:

    Kinnock John yes he was the master mind of New labour to a point, but you want to know the man “Campbell”, he was the gent who took labour down the road, Gould Kinnock Campbell.

    sadly they are back in labour again working for Miliband who is another Blairite look alike

  4. Ryan Thomas says:

    Fair point, but a bit of a love letter to Blair, no?

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