Posts Tagged ‘Phil Collins’

Centrists need new ideas and purpose, not a new party

15/12/2015, 11:40:32 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Phil Collins comments in the Times on speculation within Labour of an SDP type breakaway. Those favouring this move believe that, “the volatility of politics makes 2016 a more propitious moment for novelty than 1981.” Collins, who remains a Labour member, is unconvinced. “The only reason to stay (in Labour),” he wrote a few weeks earlier, “is that it (the Corbyn leadership) can’t last.”

“Corbynism for a decade?” asks Stephen Bush in the New Statesman. “It no longer sounds ridiculous”. In the sense that it was until very recently a widely unanticipated outcome, which would leave many, not least the likes of Collins, distraught, it still sounds pretty ridiculous. But what Bush means is clear.

“Many more than the 66 (Labour) MPs who did vote for airstrikes were convinced on the case for extending British bombing against Isis from Iraq into Syria,” reports Bush, “but pulled back due to pressure from their constituency parties”. CLPs, which MPs need to support them if they are to remain so, are increasingly under the grip of Corbynism.

If MPs are prepared to place political self-preservation before voting with their consciences on Isis, there’s probably nothing – no indignity, daftness, or nastiness – that they wouldn’t endure to extend their political careers. If in the dark nights of their souls, they affirm that this makes them happy, we can only wonder about their souls.

They might read how Tom Harris is happier as an ex-MP than he was as an MP. And Harris got out before Corbyn began. You get the sense that he doesn’t envy Ian Murray, Labour’s only Scottish MP.


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What we talk about when we talk about Tony

26/06/2012, 07:00:52 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Labour’s new policy supremo, Jon Cruddas, says that Tony Blair got worse the longer he was prime minister. Phil Collins, the Demos chair, not the Genesis drummer, says the opposite: Blair improved in office.

According to a speech that Cruddas delivered shortly before his appointment by Ed Miliband:

“From 1994 to 2001 Blair managed to build a liberal patriotic sentiment in the country; it subsequently collapsed. Blair set out as ethical socialist, ended as a neo-classicist.”

It all went wrong, on this account, when Cruddas stopped working for Blair. Collins disagrees. He thinks that Blair was a better prime minister by the time he was working for him at the end of his premiership.

When reviewing Anthony Seldon’s biography of Blair, Collins wrote:

“There is a common account of the Blair years that runs as follows: the first term contained some good things, hampered by excessive financial prudence; the second term was lost to Iraq; the third term was no more than a parade of vanity as a prime minister without authority hung on. This is conventional but a long way from wise … The second term was when Blair really found a method for reform of the public sector … The third term was, in many ways, the most fruitful: school reform, the NHS into surplus, pensions reform, energy, Northern Ireland – a good record for a supposedly defunct term.”

The man writing the next Labour manifesto has, therefore, succumbed to the conventional and un-wise. Perhaps this is a consequence of seeing politics, as Cruddas said in his speech, “more about emotion than programme; more groups, community and association – imagined as well as real – rather than theoretical or scientific”.

What Collins might praise as an effective method for public service reform, Cruddas may lament as a politics denuded of emotion. But when these judgements are made, they aren’t fundamentally judgements on Blair. They are windows onto the political soul of the judge.

What we talk about when we talk about Tony isn’t really Tony: it is political strategy.


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The Sunday review on Monday: Ed Miliband’s speech and Phil Collins’ hook at the Progress conference

14/05/2012, 07:00:07 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be Ed Miliband was very heaven.

Rejection of our Tory government has given us 824 new Labour councillors. Rejection of austerity by French and Greek voters presages a new chapter in Europe’s history. Everything seems to be moving in Miliband’s direction. He said this would be a one-term government and maybe it just might.

He began as leader by talking about the squeezed middle and was derided for doing so – but not now. As Alison McGovern noted, when introducing him as key note speaker to the Progress annual conference on Saturday, squeezed middle was the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of 2011. Just as it is undoubtedly worrying that the definitive English dictionary conflates the plural with the singular, even if these two words demonstrate our leader’s capacity to capture the zeitgeist, so too the potency of Miliband’s omnishambles line has been undeniable. No wonder Mary Riddell told the conference: “Ed Miliband has proved himself to be so far ahead of public opinion.”

A new dawn has broken, has it not?

Phil Collins opened his remarks to the conference with this quip. And the sun was shining on Saturday. But it was chillier in the sun than might have been expected.

Collins suspects the Tories will try to turn the general election into a leadership referendum. Recent polling gives some support to this view. He also expressed a “slight worry that the return of growth will let Labour off the hook of answering the key question: What does it mean to be Labour when there is no money?” We’ll need a return to growth, which seems elusive, before that becomes a live concern. But there are several crucial points here.

First, the possibility of pro-growth rhetoric, rather than the reality of growth, creating a false sense that Labour can get off Collins’ hook.


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