Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Grim Ironic Legacy of Blair's 1997 Victory

The grim irony of the twentieth anniversary of Tony Blair's 'historic landslide' in 1997 is that his regime forged the very centralised political machinery that Theresa May is using in 2017 to finish off and eradicate most of his achievements and his legacy. It's an irony that's gone unnoticed too by Brexiteers that they owe it to Blair.

The creation of a centralised elective dictatorship, one which Blair refers to in A Journey as a 'sort of ' process of 'cloning' of the leader and that could keep a leader in power for a decade easily, was forged primarily by the New Labour team. The creation of this regime is actually Blair's most enduring achievement.

Blair is terrified that his legacy is unravelling almost catastrophically, yet the seeds of the disaster were sown by the very way the elective dictatorship was progressively created, the messianic Leader as Destiny, the pseudo-evangelical kitsch of propaganda videos such as 'Do it !' with its Soviet-lite overtones, the spin and control freakery.

The Iraq War was a necessary consequence of New Labour politics and the creation of the leader with a mandate and 'conviction to lead' from the outset. Blair was deliberately produced as a progressive version of Thatcher who could lead in war as well as peace and be patriotic as well as 'the heart' of US led globalisation.

For apologists such as Freedland it's difficult to detach oneself from this sickly vision, now couched in a nostalgia for a Britain that never really was-hence the totalitarian style choreographed entrance to Downing Street on that 'warm day-because it must hurt so much to see the disaster of Brexit this model of politics helped cause.

As with fellow travellers of the USSR, 'mistakes' were made and catastrophes such as Iraq and authoritarian brutality, involvement in outsourcing torture and cynical political deception are all euphemised as 'misdeeds'. Yet, despite this, the progressive faith and evangelical belief in a new dawn is still clung to.

Blair himself is influenced by Isaac Deutscher's Prophet Trilogy about Leon Trotsky. Despite all set backs, the future of one globalised world, of which the Iraq War was one unrealised part in a greater movement towards, is destined to be realised beyond the current horizon, mired as it is yet in terror, war and re-emergent nationalism.

As with Blair, as with Freedland, when the reality becomes too hard to bear, a deeper and more honest confrontation with the recent past is delayed and the responsibility for present troubles put down to diversions from the true direction the Party and the People are required to take. Hence the rise of 'Corbynism'.

The only reason Jeremy Corbyn is Labour leader is as the perceived need for a total antidote to Blair and 'Blairism'. Corbyn was voted leader in 2015 only as Ed Miliband had tried to revive Labour as a grassroots movement dependent on a swollen membership. The result was to create Momentum as a force foisting Corbyn forth as leader.

The political machine of robotic soundbites and careful choreography has been seized by Theresa Mat in her campaign to systematically destroy both Corbyn and, so it would appear, take traditional Labour heartlands by claiming Brexit could only happen under her. A victory for May would thus consign Blair's legacy and Labour to oblivion.

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