Posts Tagged ‘Blair’

The problem with the Labour Left…

06/03/2017, 11:03:48 PM

In the second of a pair of short essays on the state of the party, Kevin Meagher casts a critical eye over the state of the Labour Left.

When did unpopularity and electoral failure become synonymous with the Left? On the face of it, seeking to level-up the world for those who get a rough deal should commend left-wing solutions to millions – tens of millions – of voters who, well, get a rough deal.

So why does it never turn out that way? Why is Labour languishing at 24 per cent in the polls? Why is Jeremy Corbyn less popular than the Black Death? Or Leicester City’s board?

The Labour Leader’s relaunch, much talked about at the start of the year, came to a juddering halt in the cold, wintry lanes of Copeland last week. A Labour seat, made up of workers in a heavily-unionised industry, left Jeremy Corbyn high and dry.

Of course, it was the nuclear industry, so it didn’t help that he’s implacably opposed to how so many of the voters there make a living.

Ah, but what about Stoke? Labour held on there.

Fair enough, Labour is still capable of holding some of its safest seats. But what Stoke showed is that White working-class voters in ‘drive past’ towns are loyal in their bones and will not readily abandon Labour, despite the endless provocations from the liberal-left that they are all ignorant, Brexit-voting racists.


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The Sunday Review: “In Retrospect”, by Bob McNamara

27/03/2011, 03:11:13 PM

by Anthony Painter

“We must recognise that the consequences of large-scale military operations…are inherently difficult to predict and control. Therefore, they must be avoided, excepting only when our nation’s security is clearly and directly threatened”.

Strange as it may seem, I have never been a fan of the political memoir. They are invariably poorly written, historical distortions that lack any sort of reflection and are instead an exercise in settling scores and re-justification. They are aimed at cementing the author’s “place in history” rather than helping a nation to reflect on its history and improve itself in the process. They always fail in this objective. There is one noble exception: Bob McNamara’s In Retrospect: the tragedy and lessons of Vietnam.

The former secretary of defense – with personal responsibility for escalating the Vietnam war under both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson – could have fallen back on the domino theory or some such to defend his actions. Instead, right up front, he is brutally honest:

“We were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why”.

Two things made me re-read In Retrospect. First, the launch of military action in Libya. Remember that Vietnam started as a smallish operation with 16,000 military “advisers” to train the South Vietnamese to defend themselves and ended with 543,400 troops in Vietnam by 1973. These things can acquire a deadly logic all of their own. Second, Tony Blair’s piece in the Wall Street Journal expanding an aggressive view of the role of the west in North Africa and the Middle East- failing to heed McNamara’s warnings. (more…)

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The week Uncut

26/03/2011, 10:30:52 AM

In case you missed them, these were the best read pieces on Uncut in the last seven days:

Tom Watson decided to back Cameron… and then changed his mind

Dan Hodges says Libya is not Cameron’s first war, it’s Blair’s last

Sally Bercow predicted the usual Tory fare on budget day

Atul Hatwal reveals how the fuel stabiliser will hike household energy bills

Peter Watt asks: where’s the social care in the health and social care bill?

Rob Marchant doesn’t want Ed to march for the alternative

Jonathan Todd thinks Miliband can own the future in a way Cameron can’t

…and in this weeks Half a minute Harris, Tom backed Theresa May on student visas

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David Cameron’s vulgar obsession with image

10/11/2010, 09:02:41 AM

by Tom Watson

It was Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov who wrote “complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained”.

When the history of the Cameron-Clegg administration is written, Andy Parsons will be a footnote to the coalition chronicles, a fleeting fact in a wider story of ultra-pragmatism and opportunity. He will feature more prominently on photographic bookplates than amid the text.

And yet, in the last week of the sixth month of this unique political construct, Mr Parsons has come to symbolise something more than the unbounded personal ambition of Messrs Cameron and Clegg.

He is an expression of the super-ego of the Prime Minister. And as any Zen Buddhist will tell you, the ego, unlike an Andy Coulson bad news day, is hard to extinguish. (more…)

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Blair was always the cynical grit in Labour’s oyster – which we still need, says Kevin Meagher

14/09/2010, 09:00:58 AM

“A cynic”, the American critic Ambrose Bierce noted, “is a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.”

Tony Blair has been called a lot worse than a blackguard. He may well be a ‘faulty visionary’. He is, however, certainly a cynic; a 100% signed-up viewer of the motives of men as inherently base and self-interested.

As he briefly floated in and out of our parochial little orbit last week, our emeritus PM, now peacemaker-at-large and aspirant bookseller, had no shortage of cynical observations to dispense.

In his new memoir, A Journey, he breezily trashes signature Labour policies like the ban on fox-hunting and the freedom of information act. The former, in his view, unworkable, the latter too unpredictable. In a familiar riff on the obsolescence of ‘left’ and ‘right’ he even concedes that he does not consider himself on the left any more. He goes on to warn that voters do not want the state becoming a “major player” in the economy and that a drift leftwards will consign Labour to two terms in opposition. (more…)

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Tuesday News Review

14/09/2010, 07:00:51 AM

'Visibly tense'

The Final Countdown

The leadership candidates now have one last televised hustings on Question Time this Thursday to put their case to become Labour leader to members. I hope they all take this final opportunity to proudly defend our record and put forward a more positive agenda that builds on our achievements not trashes them. – Prescott blog, The Guardian.

David Miliband was visibly tense, his brother Ed seemed a bit subdued, Ed Balls was witty and relaxed (yes, really!), Andy Burnham rather tetchy and Diane Abbott… Well, she was just Diane.  – Sky Blog, Sky News.

“For many Labour people this hasn’t been an easy election to call. All of the candidates are of the centre left, they are all Labour. That isn’t the issue here. The big question is who are the Tories afraid of? Who is the best candidate to stand up against Cameron at the despatch box? Who has the best chance to beat Cameron in an election? For me the best choice is David Miliband and that is why I will be supporting him as next Labour leader.” – Lancaster Guardian.

Diane on women

“One way of illustrating this is to examine the Budget’s impact on women and families. The figures are frightening. The bulk of the impact will be felt by women. Some 72 per cent of the cuts will be met from women’s income, as opposed to 28 per cent from men.” – Diane Abbott, Morning Star.

Burnham on Blair

“Tony Blair was right to position Labour as pro-business, pro-job creation and pro-wealth creation,” [Burnham] says. But he says the party attached itself too much to big companies and sold its soul. “In wanting to appear pro-business we lost our sense of ourselves,” he says. –  FT.

Labour’s visionary leader

Labour’s challenge is to find a visionary leader who adapts the party in the light of profound socioeconomic change, to ensure social justice while maintaining Britain’s competitive advantage. In the case of all five candidates, their previous experience of government or lack of it will count for little. – Anthony Seldon, The Guardian.

From the outside…

Plenty of Lib Dems are watching the current Labour leadership race, hoping that someone congenial like David Miliband carries the day, so that they can forge a nice, progressive Lib-Lab coalition at the next election. – The Economist.


Cuba has announced radical plans to lay off huge numbers of state employees, to help revive the communist country’s struggling economy. The Cuban labour federation said more than a million workers would lose their jobs – half of them by March next year. – BBC News.

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Tuesday News Review

07/09/2010, 07:00:32 AM

Welcome back: Theresa May faces tough questions over phone hacking

If Theresa May had been a luckier politician she might have faced an easier challenge on her first day back at Westminster: solving world hunger perhaps, persuading the Taliban to take up knitting or smuggling Tony Blair into Waterstone’s. Instead the home secretary got a big, black binliner full of stinking political rubbish dumped into her lap, the kind of raw material that News of the World reporters tiptoe away with from the dustbins of their victims. Except that in this case the investigators were outraged opposition MPs and the targets under surveillance were Scotland Yard, the News of the Screws itself and Andy Coulson, the boss’s pet rottweiler, all mixed up in the phone-hacking affair. A Lib Dem cabinet minister even called for Coulson to be sacked. – The Guardian

Backbencher Tom Watson said Mrs May must not join a ”conspiracy” to undermine the ”integrity of our democracy”. He called on her to confirm that Tony Blair had asked Scotland Yard whether his phone was hacked – a suggestion the former prime minister’s office has yet to shed light on. But the home secretary batted away demands for details, saying: ”There have recently been allegations connected to this investigation in the New York Times newspaper. ”Any police investigation is an operational matter in which ministers have no role.” – The Telegraph

Step forward, Tom Watson, the man they call “Tommy Two Dinners”. In fact, the man is becoming a star performer in the House of Commons. Before the recess, he savaged Michael Gove over the school rebuilding fiasco, dubbing him “a miserable pipsqueak of a man”. Now he launched into Theresa May with a machine gun-like summary of the latest allegations: succinct, easy-to-understand and extremely effective. Put that man in the Shadow Cabinet! He’s becoming one of Labour’s top attack dogs. Nick Clegg will be grateful that he didn’t have to face Tommy. – Sky

During the Commons debate, Labour MP Tom Watson asked May to clarify how many were on Mulcaire’s “target list” of people to bug. He also asked how the Metropolitan Police decided on the small sample of names which made up its 2006 investigation into the affair. He added: “Can she confirm that former Prime Minister Tony Blair has formally asked Scotland Yard whether his phone was hacked? “The integrity of our democracy is under scrutiny around the world. The home secretary must not join the conspiracy to make it a laughing stock.” – Press Gazette


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Dan Hodges backs a Blairite for the leadership

02/09/2010, 10:00:10 AM

And so it ends. By this week-end, three quarters of the votes in the 2010 Labour leadership election will have been cast. The contest will effectively be over.

We’ve learnt a lot. That a lengthy campaign, far from creating a platform for intensive debate, only deadens it.  That a large field of candidates, rather than introducing diversity, allows only a superficial assessment of their merits, (The ‘Newsnight’ hustings would have shamed a secondary school debating class). Most crucially, we know that the last thing a political party should do after being dumped out of office is launch straight into electing itself a new leader.

Over the past months we have been assailed by a conformity of originality. Diane Abbott  promised the “turn the page election from the turn the page candidate”. Ed Balls was building a “consensus for change”.  Andy Burnham pledged to move the party beyond a “London-centric elite”.


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Tuesday News Review

31/08/2010, 07:00:24 AM

Ed hits back

Ed Mil hits back

Labour leadership candidate Ed Miliband has hit back at veiled criticism from Lord Mandelson, insisting the party needed to change. Mr Miliband’s comments came after Lord Mandelson said Labour could be left in an “electoral cul-de-sac” if its next leader tried to create a “pre-New Labour party”. Lord Mandelson appeared to be referring to Mr Miliband in particular, in what is being seen as a personal attack. Mr Miliband said Labour must “move on”. – BBC News.

Positive press in the back yard

More than 1,000 councillors provided the Shadow Foreign Secretary with a huge boost at a crucial moment ahead of the ballot drop next week. Support comes from all corners of Britain as the father-of-two goes head-to- head with his brother Ed, Andy Burnham, Ed Balls and Diane Abbott. – Shields Gazette.

Blair: book trouble

Blair’s book

High-profile book launches are meant to be a bit of a circus. But it is hard to find a parallel for the mixture of hype and hatred that will attend the publication of Tony Blair’s memoirs on Wednesday. – Financial Times.

Burnham takes Lib Dem pulse

“You hold the key to the future of our NHS. People who voted for you at the election did not vote for such a radical break-up plan. I urge you to listen to them and stand up for our NHS in the face of this attack, which threatens to unpick its very fabric.” – Andy Burnham to Lib Dems, The Guardian.


Jon’s brand of socialism is based on moral foundations – don’t forget he’s a Catholic. When asked why he was backing David he reeled off a list areas on which they agree: “responsibility, family, duty, the importance of community.” I say this with no special knowledge or insight and I stand ready for an angry phone call rebutting the suggestion but it struck me that the fact David is married and Ed Miliband isn’t could also have been a (small) contributing factor in winning the Cruddas vote. – Jason Beattie, The Mirror.

Mullin’s diaries

‘When it’s all over, the big question will be how Gordon ever got there in the first place.’ – unnamed cabinet minister in Chris Mullin’s Decline and Fall, The Independent.

Abbott: Facebook slur

Abbott slur

A tory high-flyer has been forced to quit after writing a vile, expletivefilled rant about Labour MP Diane Abbott on his Facebook page…After the Sunday Mirror contacted the Party, Hallam’s details were removed and he quit his post. Last night he apologised, saying: “It was inappropriate.” –  The Mirror.

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The Week Uncut

29/08/2010, 09:00:01 AM

The ballot papers are in the post. The final days to the leadership vote are marked by ‘fratricide’, suspected Tory tricks and the ever narrowing idea that it’s between two brothers. There’s also another race going on, and the fight for Labour’s mayoral candidacy is just as bitter.

At Uncut, Oona King ruined series one of The Wire, Andy Burnham’s desert island discs turned into a matter of geography, the leadership contenders got the top trumps treatment from our illustrator  and Chris Kelly…the puns were all too easy to come by.

In case you missed our week at Uncut,  here are our picks.

Milena Popova on the government’s misunderstanding and misuse of information

Labour Leadership Top Trumps

Andy Burnham’s desert island discs

Blair is flipping us the finger, but thats ok, says Dan Hodges.

The Oona King Interview

Stella Creasy talks social mobility

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