I have just got round to reading Blair’s latest piece of writing in the New Statesman, partly because I really didn’t want to read any more of what he had to say. However, in the spirit of an open mind I read through the three pages of Blair philosophy.
I can’t say I found anything in it to bring joy or hope to my heart. He seems determined to trash all the ground that the left has built up and is completely unwilling to see older left-wing philosophy as something to be cherished and fought for.
He rightly speaks of free education in quotation marks, as everything ultimately needs to be paid for, but he is utterly wrong in saying that the old model would adversely affect social mobility. In fact, I would argue that the philosophy that he has lumbered us with is in itself regressive and a barrier to social mobility and a strong, flourishing economy.
If we all pay into higher education, we can all reap its fruits to whichever degree they are given to us. Imagine if Oxford’s vaccine effort had British tax-payers’ money going directly into it in advance. It would not just be a prestige project for a privileged Uni spun out in an emergency fashion, but a break through sponsored by and for the benefit of us all that wouldn’t require special funding.
He does not even have the courage to take on the left’s arguments, he merely dismisses them as an irrelevance. They are not an irrelevance, Corbyn has shown that they are as relevant now to all sections of British society as they have ever been. Perhaps it is true that Corbyn couldn’t bring the party together, and sure he made mistakes, but at least he put up a good fight for things the left used to believe in.
Nationalising a rail network is as relevant to the future as the technological revolution, partly because of it. In a shifting world where you can be put out of work by a new computer, why not have a bigger stake in the running of the train service or educational institution through tax and transparent public ownership?
Privatisation, which he has also championed, has not brought the sparkling future that he promised. It has brought division and inequality and some stagnant social mobility. People are being forgotten. Where is that on his agenda?
On reading The Third Way I was angered at the tender age of 17 about Labour’s new vision for women. This time I have a more considered reaction. But the gut feeling is the same. The right of Labour needs to listen to the left and not just side-line them as an awkward irrelevance, just because they have a difficult corner to fight. Those arguments have a history of successes he conveniently forgets.