Remember how Clinton sealed the deal for Obama last year? Blair could do that for Miliband

by Dan McCurry

I was once in a rock band for whom stardom beckoned. We were 16 years old and practiced in the music room at school, playing ‘60s music. The lead singer, John O’Dea, was a mod whose hobby was to beat up punks and skinheads. He was quite embarrassing. The reason he had something to prove was that back in ‘80s, the mods had a reputation for being soft.

One day John wrote some lyrics to a song called “Bollocks to a tramp”, and although we didn’t want to encourage him, the words were good so we added a guitar riff and it rocked.

Up the west end every Saturday,

The Mods, Punks and Skinheads all come out to play,

They really make me sick,

I could hit ‘em with a brick,

Say bollocks to a tramp,

Bollocks to a tramp,

Punks and Skins are tramps,


We got our first gig at a Mod all-dayer at the Ilford Palais. The crowd went crazy with 2,000 mods cheering at every line, and we were invited everywhere. Unfortunately the band fell at the first hurdle when the bass player got jealous and wanted to take over the vocals, so arranged for O’Dea to be kicked out. At the next gig, we opened with the bass player singing Bollocks to a tramp, and the audience sat all the way through, then clapped politely at the end of it. The magic was gone and the band soon split.

When Labour got rid of Tony Blair, I reflected on the sacking of John O’Dea. Even though I was politically closer to Gordon, I didn’t think it was a good idea to make the bass player into the Prime Minister when we had a star singer in Tony Blair.

Bill Clinton was another star. It’s questionable as to whether Obama would have won last year’s election without his help. Tony Blair could do the same thing for Ed Miliband, but Miliband wants to put space between Labour’s past and present.

Economic consensus has changed since the time of Clinton and Blair. We used to agree that aspiring to owning a house would lift people out of poverty. Even George W. Bush saw sub-prime mortgages as a way of ending poverty. The idea was that people instilled with aspiration lifted themselves up.

Today we’re all Keynesians, including the Tories. In the future, infrastructure projects will not be cut back because we’re in recession, they’ll be moved forward. My point is that Tony Blair is from a different political era. However, some political principles remain the same.

All of this talk of second bedrooms as a human right has damaged us. Deborah Mattinson recently said,

“People have started to define Labour by the past rather than the present. It’s almost as if New Labour didn’t happen. So when we ask people in focus groups, ‘What is the Labour party policy on the economy?’ They go back to the old fashioned tax and spend. That’s where they see Labour now.”

This chimes with my experience.  My mates from school grew up in council flats and are now owner-occupiers in the suburbs. They are mostly a bunch of taxi drivers although one is in business and another in the City. They lean towards Tory but are open to Labour. Speaking about Ed Miliband, they used to say they were “undecided”, but recently a contempt for Ed Miliband has emerged. Three times recently I’ve had people tell me, “He stabbed his brother in the back”.

Ed Miliband didn’t stab his brother in the back. It was an open contest. There is only one person in recent Labour history that you can use that term about. My school mates are looking at Ed Miliband and seeing Gordon Brown. They’re angry that Old Labour has come to dominate.

For all of Ed’s efforts to separate himself from the previous leaders of Labour, he has done the opposite and caused himself to be associated with Gordon. The problem is that the people  who we need most of all right now, are the ones who voted for Blair.

Ed Miliband needs to stiffen every sinew in the race for 2015. He needs Tony Blair, not to take Labour back to a previous era, but close off a  problem we have, a perception that we are no longer modern.

Obama described Clinton as “The honorary minister for explaining stuff”. Tony Blair should be our honorary minister for explaining stuff. Bring him back.

Dan McCurry is a Labour activist who blogs here

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18 Responses to “Remember how Clinton sealed the deal for Obama last year? Blair could do that for Miliband”

  1. John Reid says:

    I think it’s a bit different Barrack was being re-elected and there was so much hope in 2007′ Obama could never live up to it so the public needed to be told that stick with him, plus the republicans we still thought of as being extremist, although Clinton like Blair hasa a larger appeal, b”air would be more like Heath being an asset to Thatcher in 79′ possible yes, but better not to be used, for fear of distancing others,

  2. Ex-labour says:

    Interesting position and its one I tend to agree with. But there is also another reason Miliband is discounted by Labour supporters.

    I was listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 the other day and they followed a Labour MP round his constituency as he did a weekly walkabout meeting his flock. At one household a Labour voter said Miliband was insignificant and implied he was weak saying “you step over him”.

    Now if even Labour people are saying this and your friends seem to have the same opinion as me, then I think Miliband is in trouble and needs help from someone . Blair has gone public recently with some advice and it didn’t go down well with the current soft and hard left activists.

    But this is not just about Miliband, as both he and Balls are associated with being Browns team and were part of the economic problem. The unions are also doing the party no favours and Miliband himself has become associated with McLuskey and co.

    The answer is probably some sort of “mentor” a la Clinton, but could you see the current Labour cabal bringing back Blair ? I think not.

  3. swatantra says:

    In the words of Lennon: ‘B*llocks’. Tony is a busted flush; he has as much credibility these days as say, for the sake of argument, Gordon. And Obama would have won without the endorsement of that adulteror Clinton. The quality of his opponents McCain and Romney were very poor. And that is the point: I’m afraid I don’t see that much of a future for Ed.

  4. A Williams says:

    “Ed Miliband didn’t stab his brother in the back.”

    I would expect brothers with a healthy sibbling relationship to decide between themselves which would stand and then the one who stepped down to support their brother. For one brother to surprise the other and stand without any warning, let alone discussion, suggests contempt if not outright betrayal for ones flesh and blood.

  5. McCurry says:

    @A Willimas: If you think for one moment that people step aside for each other to run for high office (even brothers) you don’t know much about politics.

    @Ex Labour: Only the Tories think that having friends in the unions is major problem.

    @John Reid: You’re not seriously comparing Edward Heath with Tony Blair?

    @Swantantra: Miliband is up against a fairly strong opponent in Cameron, but Romney wasn’t so weak, he just looked a bit like a vampire. By the way, YouGov have Cameron and Miliband neck and neck in the popularity poll.

  6. Ex-labour says:


    ” only Tories think that having friends in the unions is a major problem”

    Er… I think you’ll find the general public aren’t really that enamoured with it either. Red Len has already shown his claws once to Miliband and the party officials and clearly has his own agenda and we are seeing what the unions are doing with selection of union activists for Labour in the EU seats. The public know their history and remember what happened when Labour tried to appease the unions in previous decades.

    You conveniently miss most of the other points I made, but of course I expected that. Even my staunch Labour friends say Miliband is weak and a poor choice of leader, but no problem keep wearing the red blinkers.

  7. Phil says:

    As you say at the start in your song, Say BOLLOCKSSSSSSSSS!!!.
    If Labour is to be serious it needs to be radical and socialist. Tony Blair won’t progress that will he?

  8. McCurry says:

    @Ex-Labour, You don’t know that the unions imposed EU candidates. What you know is that Peter Watt formed that conclusion in an article he wrote in this blog. It could also be that the Progress organisation had irritated party officials.

    @Phil, I don’t think Blair will help the party get radical or socialist, but then again I’m not sure that is the best way to get elected.

  9. steve says:

    “the people who we need most of all right now, are the ones who voted for Blair.”

    I voted for Blair with great enthusiasm. But that was before the Iraq disaster. And if you add the economic crisis, deepened for the U.K. by New Labour’s lax regulatory framework, Labour’s absence of credibility is explained.

    If Miliband is to be in with a chance he’ll have to put as much distance as possible between himself the New Labour legacy.

  10. uglyfatbloke says:

    The vocal, committed support of Blair and/or Brown would be poison for Ed in Scotland. He really does not need to be tarred with their brushes.

  11. John Reid says:

    McMurry, the comparison ws that Heath was more popular that Thatcher in the spring 79′ and Tory advisors told Thatcher to use Heath, she refused, I may be wrong,but the comparison was that a blair is probably more popular now than ED m.,

  12. John Reid says:

    With the excretion of Phil an ugly fat bloke, all the comments disagreeing here are from (former) New labour types!

  13. R Henry says:

    I think you have a point. What i don’t understand about the entire political commentariat is the constant doubt and criticism of miliband when it will be impossible for the tories to be the largest party next election and he has in fact played a blinder – just by lying low and watching the ‘govt’ fail – plus ukip now taking such a large swathe of tory votes. What should therefore be debAted is if he will have an overall majority or govern with the liberals.

  14. McCurry says:

    @R Henry,
    Cameron has EVERYTHING to play for.

  15. Ex-labour says:


    Peter Watt is amongst many who question what has gone on and why are there protests and calls for enquiries if nothing is wrong ?

    The red blinkers are doing well…..maybe you should market them ?

  16. Lynne says:

    As I recall, everyone was sick of Blair by the time he went. I only voted for him once. Some twice and others three times. Then we got Gordon who no one voted for.

    Times have changed since 1997. People are suffering, and it’s about time the Labour party moved on from New Labour.

  17. Alex Harvey says:

    For the love of God – TONY BLAIR IS NOT POPULAR.

  18. Jack says:

    Blair was one of the greatest disasters ever to befall Labour; Miliband should stay away from him as far as is humanly possible. Associating with a war criminal is never a good idea.

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