Thursday, September 28, 2006

# Posted 3:34 PM by Patrick Porter  

ET TU BLAIR: In his address to the 2006 Labour Party Conference, British Prime Minister Tony Blair celebrated the fact that the Conservative Party now claim to support Labour policies, a sign of political success:
But take a step back and be proud: this is a changed country
Above all, it is progressive ideas which define its politics. That is the real result of a third term victory. And the Tories have to pretend they love it.

The Bank of England independence, they never did in 18 years, the minimum wage, they told us would cost a million jobs. The help for the world's poor, they cut. They fall over themselves saying how much they agree with us.

Don't lose heart from that; take heart from it. We have changed the terms of political debate.

But the Tories weren't the only ones to change their policies as a result of failure and election defeats. Later in his speech, he observed:
In the 1980s some things done were necessary for the country. That's the truth. Saying it doesn't make you a Tory.

I'm a progressive. The true believer believes in social justice, in solidarity, in help for those not able to help themselves. They say I hate the Party, and its traditions. I don't. I love this Party. There's only one tradition I hated: losing.

There's a slight double standard here: the Tories' policy shifts are to be mocked as insincere and ridiculous, while Labour's policy shifts are a solemn recognition of the national interest.

If Blair gets to scorn his opponents for copying Labour policies, they might do the same.

To stop losing elections, Britain's Labour Party dismantled significant parts of its platform, such as tnationalisation and high taxation, (and a recurrent commitment to unilateral nuclear disarmament, amongst other things).

It accepted important parts of the Thatcherist legacy, such as privatisation, deregulation and an end to trade union militancy, not to mention a strong reaffirmation of the Atlantic alliance.

So its easy to mock the Tories for awkwardly accepting Labour policies which they once opposed.

But its a natural dynamic in electoral politics, and New Labour, New Britain and Blairism would have been impossible without it.

In other ways, it was a visionary speech. But the urge to 'package' things in a facile way has never entirely abandoned Blair.

(2) opinions -- Add your opinion

You have it about right. It should be said, however, that the Thatcher departure from tradtional socialism was more drastic and more badly needed than anything Blair has done. The increase in prosperity in Britain since 1980 is utterly fantastic, and is mostly due to Margaret Thatcher.
Talk about a great speech ...

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