Tony Blair

Echoes from the UK that give insight on New Zealand

People are sitting and watching the debacle that is David Cunliffe unfold before their eyes. They wonder at how the Labour party could have got it so wrong, after the heady days of Helen Clark’s power.

Part of the problem lies with that legacy of Helen Clark. She turned the party into a cult of personality and then surrounded herself with people who lacked ability, colour or ideas…lest they rise up and challenge her. So focussed was she on neutralising threats from within that she didn’t see John Key sneak up on her.

The marks of Helen still pervade the party, and now they seek to purge anyone from the centre right in the party. This of course has already been foreshadowed in the UK where Labour suffers the same issues.

What is it with British political parties? Is there some masochistic tendency – a perverse self-destruct mechanism – which invariably makes them denounce the very thing that has provided them with unprecedented success? You must accept that there is an uncanny parallel between the Conservative modernisers’ renunciation of Thatcherism after a single electoral defeat which followed on 18 unbroken years of power, and the Labour party’s rejection of its New Labour incarnation after an unprecedented three terms in office.

Somehow the idea became received wisdom that winning three times in a row – and then losing – was a kind of moral catastrophe rather than being a simple (indeed, healthy) consequence of democratic life. Since when have politicians assumed that when they lose an election it must be a sign that everything they have been saying and doing is totally unworthy and repulsive to the people – who had, until that point, been voting for them consistently for nearly two decades?

But here we are again. Labour is roughly where the Tory party was around 2000: in full-on self-flagellation mode – renouncing the version of itself which had been its most stupendously effective election-winning formula in post-war history. Blairism has become the precise analogue of Thatcherism – the evil spectre that must be expunged before the party can regain trust and credibility. In the case of Tony Blair, there is a convenient – and fatally confused – issue which can be used to justify his disgrace. His foreign military ventures and his association with the Bush “war on terror” have given licence to his perennial enemies within Labour to cast his whole political programme into disrepute.

That he transformed the Labour message, so as to make it not only electorally attractive but consistent with modern British social attitudes, is deftly buried by the Neanderthal Left, which always hated his reforms and his attempts to break the party’s dependence on the trade unions.

This brings us to Ed Miliband, who was put into the leadership by those unions precisely for the purpose of driving out the last traces of the Blair heresy. So the lesson that Blairism learnt from Thatcherism – that contemporary British politics is now all about individual aspiration, self-determination and genuine fairness (which is to say, you get out of life pretty much what you put in), rather than the old Left dogmas of class hatred, passivity and state-run collectivism – must now be expunged from Labour’s message.    Read more »

Playing the race card is damaging Labour

There are serious murmurs and shocked tones swirling around in side Labour over David Cunliffe’s dog-whistle on immigration.

Already James Caygill has voiced his concerns, there are many others, including candidates and MPs that I have spoken to who are of the same mind.

We don’t have to look too far for an indicator how this will all play out. Labour is still shoulder to shoulder with their UK counterparts, right down to the weird posh leader elected by pandering to the unions and the membership.

As I predicted on Friday, Labour is this morning in the grip of a Ukip Crisis. “Miliband under pressure as Labour splits over how to win back voters,” reports the Guardian. “Elitist Ed is heading for disaster: Labour MPs says party leaders have their head in the sand over ‘terrible’ European elections result,” reports the Mail.

As if things weren’t bad enough, Tony Blair has also chipped in. “It is right to be worried when a party like Ukip comes first in the European election, it would be foolish not to be. But on the other hand we also have to stand for what is correct and right for the future of Britain in the 21st century,” said our former PM, in an intervention that will enrage both the Left and Right in equal measure.

Blair is whistling in the wind. We are currently witnessing a flight from reason. The false narrative that “Ukip are as much of a threat to Labour as they are to the Tories” has taken hold and, for the while at least, there is no shaking it.

Because they will become useful at a later date, I’ll just lay out the facts. The Lord Ashcroft exit poll of the Euro elections found Ukip taking votes from the Tories by a margin of 2:1. That is when their vote share falls in a range between 30 per cent down to about 15 per cent. Other polling has shown that once their vote sinks below that level, they start to take votes from the Tories by margins of 3:1, 4:1, 5:1 even 6:1. The Tories privately put the cross-over point at between 10-11 per cent. That’s the point where Ukip start to take votes from the other parties a little more evenly (though the bulk of votes still come from Conservative switchers). Ukip are today polling 13 per cent. They will be well below that come election day. Read more »

This is what is happening to Labour here

All political parties – particularly parties of opposition – have to have some basic philosophical core.

That’s because if they don’t, they simply wander around aimlessly trying out every passing political fad, and entertaining every passing political snake-oil salesman, when they should instead be settling on a clear path to power.

Dan Hodges explains:

Before Saturday I’d come to the view that the Left had won the battle for control of Labour. I was wrong. No one has control of Labour. This is one of the fundamental problems facing Miliband’s party. Unlike in 1981 (the Bennites) and 1985 (the Kinnockites) and 1994, (the Blairites) there has been no definitive political settlement.

This morning it’s just been announced that Tony Blair is preparing to make a “big contribution” to Labour’s coffers, to offset predicted loss of income from the unions. What the hell is that all about?

Ever since Miliband was elected, we’ve been told his entire political plan revolved around moving Labour beyond the Blair/Brown years. You may agree with that plan, you may disagree with that plan. But it sent a clear signal about Labour’s direction of political travel. As did Miliband’s stated desire at Saturday’s conference to open politics up to “ordinary people”. How does that fit with the news that Blair is about to become Miliband’s sugar daddy?

Some people will claim this is evidence Labour is a “broad church”. It doesn’t. It shows Labour isn’t a church at all. It’s just a large room with lots of people shouting wholly contradictory things at one another, while people huddle around saying “Hell yes, I agree with that! Oh, wait, hang on a minute. What did he just say?”   Read more »

Miliband and Cunliffe both have the same problem

David Cunliffe and Ed Miliband both have the same problem.

They have an astonishing lack of charisma, poor body language, unfortunate mannerisms and both are beholden to ratbag union bosses.

Without the trade unions, Ed Miliband would not be an aspiring prime minister. But for the intervention of the “brothers” – in the shape of the trade union bosses – it would be his Blairite sibling David, now exiled in New York, getting ready to fight the next general election. It was not to be.

When, in September 2010, Ed beat his own brother to the Labour leadership by a whisker, his victory was down to the backing of the giant trade unions Unite, Unison and the GMB, whose bosses recommended him to their members and allowed him access to their membership lists. While David had more support than Ed among MPs, MEPs and constituency Labour parties (CLPs), it was outweighed by the power of the unions in the party’s complicated electoral college.

That night, after the result was announced, trade union fixers and assorted hangers-on toured the bars of the conference hotel, toasting their success. The traditionalists had routed the Blairites and reclaimed the party. Labour’s new leader would be their man.   Read more »

Bill Clinton might not be a dodgy rooting ratbag, but Tony Blair might be

Liz Hurley has denied a torrid affair with Bill Clinton, describing such rumours as “ludicrously silly”.

As celebrity gossip goes, it takes some beating: actress and model Elizabeth Hurley has year-long affair with Bill Clinton while he was US President.

Throw in the suggestion that they had a liaison in the White House while Hillary Clinton was next door, and that Mr Clinton ended it when he realised he was falling in love, and you have a story that rivals Marilyn Monroe’s alleged fling with John F Kennedy.

But when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, as Miss Hurley pointed out on Wednesday when she was forced to deny the “ludicrously silly” report and threatened legal action as it gathered pace online.

The allegations were made by Tom Sizemore, a Hollywood actor who claims to have dated Miss Hurley in the 1990s.

Sizemore was recorded on video boasting to friends that he had arranged Miss Hurley’s first rendezvous with the president in 1998 following a White House screening of Saving Private Ryan.

The actor was one of the stars of the film and claimed Clinton pulled him away from the screening for a private conversation.

In the video, obtained by the gossip website Radar Online, Sizemore says Clinton asked him: “Did you go with Liz Hurley for four years? Do you still see her?”

When Sizemore confirmed that the couple had dated but were no longer an item, Clinton is said to have asked for Miss Hurley’s phone number.

In the recording, Sizemore claims the then-President told him: ‘Give it to me. You dumb m***********r, I’m the Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America.

“The buck stops here. Give me the damn number.”

Why didn’t he just get the NSA to give it to him?

Read more »

Same problem here

Tony Blair has a point when he lambasts career politicians.

Tony Blair said MPs should work normal jobs before entering politics to give them a better overview of how the world works.

Tony Blair took a swipe at modern MPs like Ed Miliband for lacking experience outside politics, claiming they should work normal jobs for several years before heading to Westminster.

The former Prime Minister said there was a “general problem” in Western democracies with career politicians who have never worked outside the political sphere.

He insisted that following careers in other areas before taking up politics was vital as it meant the MPs were “better able to see the world”.   Read more »

Boris smacks Red Ed

Boris Johnson doesn’t spare anything on his spanking of Ed Miliband and his Cunliffe-like lurch to the left.

So now we know what he wants to do with the country. It’s “socialism”, folks! For years now, Ed Miliband has been studiously blank about his intentions. To a degree that has maddened supporters and opponents alike, he has refused to say much about how Labour would govern the country. He has curled himself into an ideological foetal position – so as to present as small a target as possible – and hoped that Coalition unpopularity would allow him to stand up at the last minute and slither unobtrusively into power.

And now, in an incautious admission, he has reminded us of his core beliefs – as the proud son of a Marxist academic. He wants to restore socialism to Britain. In spite of everything, the mission of Labour under Ed Miliband is to revive a political belief system that brought Britain to its knees, that blighted the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, that was responsible for untold murders and abuses of human rights, and that in the past 30 years has been decisively rejected across the planet in favour of liberty, free enterprise and market economics – a rival system that has lifted and is lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and servitude. Someone needs to tell Ed Miliband that socialism failed, and I have just the man to do it.  Read more »

Miliband Minor channeling Silent T

David Shearer tried the squeezed middle and look where it got him…now it looks like Ed Miliband is trying to channel David Cunliffe in a solid lurch to the left.

Before Labour conference began Ed Miliband’s aides assembled for a meeting to map out their conference strategy. It went something like this. “We could talk about the Squeezed Middle.” “Nah. Much too 2011.” How about “One Nation?” “Duh. Of course. But we can’t just keep banging on about that all week. We tried last year and look where it’s got us.” “OK. Look, I know this may be a bit left-field, but why don’t we use conference to evoke the memory of the dear departed leader Enver Hoxha, first secretary of the Labour Party of Albania, and one of history’s strongest adherents to antirevisionist Marxist Leninism?” “Like it. Bound to go down a bomb with the focus groups.”

So similar it isn’t funny.

Ed Miliband believes he has discovered why his party is struggling to connect with the voters of Britain. He’s not socialist enough. Or more accurately, he’s not being clear enough about just how much of a socialist he is.

He’s been dropping some heavy hints, of course. Flirting with renationalising the railways. Taxing people who live in mansions. Pledging to hang, draw and quarter all those bankers.  Read more »

A good keen man, Ctd

The revelations coming from Damian McBride’s book are still reverberating throughout the UK. The more that is revealed the more I like the sound of him.

In a book, timed to cause maximum damage by being published during the Labour conference, Mr McBride has disclosed how he destroyed the careers of New Labour Cabinet ministers by using smears and lies, and disclosing details of their private lives.

He also described “logging into” Mr Brown’s government email account to access official secrets.

On Saturday night Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, raised the prospect of a criminal investigation into his conduct.

Mr McBride said he discredited the former prime minister’s enemies by tipping off the media about drug use, spousal abuse, alcoholism and extramarital affairs.

In one case, he disclosed that Tony Blair’s wife was being investigated by Customs.

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor and a close aide to Mr Brown before he was prime minister, described Mr McBride’s dirty tricks operation as “vile”, but insisted he knew nothing about it.

He said: “He was a law unto himself, it now seems.”  Read more »

A good keen man

It is no secret that I love hunting, whether in the traditional sense or the political sense.

The thrill of the chase, understanding your quarry, finding their habits, tracking them down, manipulating their behaviour, bending them to your will and finally the kill.

It takes a good keen man to do that in the traditional sense, so I don’t see why it shouldn’t be applied too in the political world. Damian McBride appears to be one such good keen man.

A key aide to Gordon Brown has admitted destroying the careers of New Labour Cabinet ministers by using dark arts to smear political opponents.

Damian McBride, Mr Brown’s former communications chief, said he discredited the former prime minister’s enemies by tipping off the media about drug use, spousal abuse, alcoholism and extramarital affairs.

In an autobiography that will cast a shadow over Labour’s party conference in Brighton next week, Mr McBride admits attempting to ruin the careers of the former home secretaries Charles Clarke and John Reid.  Read more »