“The danger for Labour now is that we drift off, or even move decisively off, to the left. If we do, we will lose even bigger next time.” – Blair
Does Blair not get it, the Third Way didn’t work! I mean, even the architect of the Third Way (Anthony Giddens) is recognising it needs modification. With the trained “don’t go to the left” mantra and scare tactics, Blair’s book appears to be a clear endorsement of David Milliband. But in the same way that he is unable to admit that the Iraq war was wrong, he is unable to learn from the mistakes of New Labour and the much-needed insertion of a progressive mentality.
As I have previously said, none of the candidates standing in the leadership election are that special, and it’s unlikely any will last too long. But if David Miliband was to be elected, the Tories would be afraid, but also glad. I mean, look at the way in which they are jumping on the coverage of Blair memoirs – they are using it as conformation of their economic illogical policies.
Blair’s pandering to the right, the desire for privatisation and the regrets of New Labour’s (in his view) ‘poor’ onslaught of the public sector – well this is what D.Miliband would be about. He would take Labour back into their New Labour path (or dead end). But even though the Tories might not be able to throw the line “deficit deniers” – they would be able to say, well Labour are very much in accord with what is happening. The progressive opposition to the unfair economic mentality of the government would be undermined. Yes, there are other parties, especially us Greens, which would keep on track. But there is a need for a much bigger progressive force, the one seen in the Coalition of Resistance.
The problem that Blair has, and this is often the problem with most anti-leftists, is that they have a very narrow conception of what left politics is about. Consider his comments:
“a left-wing solution that, whatever its good intentions, is a different form of regression, where we confuse the state with the interests of the people”.
Lefty politics is not always about state power. This is clear to see with the development of localist lefty strategies, this is clear to see in the Green policies. The advancement of cooperatives and mutuals enable localist agendas to take place, with community and solidary at the centre, and provide an alternative to the current competition drive associated with the neo-liberal doctrine. This is why Blair and Miliband got/will get it wrong, they see left and right in black and white. There are varieties of these ideologies, and the left doesn’t necessary have to transfer and equate to state dominance.
There is no chance that Labour will ever go completely left-wing anyway – I mean look at the poorness of Diane Abbott’s campaign, and its ineffectiveness to translate into support. She has the most left-wing record and ideology on many instances. Blair is obviously swiping at Ed Milliband, but he is hardly a lefty radical. I mean, most of his policies are very lukewarm when it comes to left visions. Consider the living wage, it will be conditional with companies who implement it receiving tax breaks in return. Then there is his commitment to “looking into” the grammar school ballots or marriage for same-sex couples etc. There are many areas of his campaign where he has shown clear centre ground, right-wing tendencies.
Even David Milliband has appealed to the left, with his comments around removing the private school charity status of schools. This has just been a feature of the campaign for the four men, they are clearly affected by New Labour’s legacy, and so Blair’s warning for the party not to go too left-wing is unfounded and unhelpful.