Far be it for me to contest the wisdom of the winner of three general elections (and one world cup), but his observation is a touch out. As we've seen, not least on this blog, there remains a big question mark over whether a Jez-led Labour Party could do the business. The prospects for Bernie Sanders, however, are a touch different. In January, Sanders was doing a better job than Hillary in outpolling Republican rivals. According to USA Today, he trails Trump less. Where's the pragmatism, Tony?
Nevertheless, we have seen some important advances in Tony Blair Thought. He notes "Part of it is the flatlining of lower and middle income people, the flatlining in living standards for those people, which is very frustrating. It’s partly an anger for sure at the elites, a desire to choose people who are going to rattle the cage." He's getting there. Social media also plays a role, too - though something tells me the down-at-heel turning to Trump in significant numbers have little to do with Twitter of Facebook updates. He also says the centre left have got some serious thinking to do to get back its "radical cutting edge."
Being conditions consciousness, so I can understand where Tony's coming from. Superficially, his personage was once an asset for the Labour Party. He was young and fresh, untainted by Tory sleaze and the naffness surrounding the party under Kinnock's tenure. Under his leadership, Labour was able to affect a certain dynamism because he was the change candidate. He might like to think his programme was radical, but it wasn't. Better, certainly, but market fundamentalism was not only taken for granted but expanded. Important rights at work around equality legislation and parental leave were important, but benefited workers as individuals when, in order to renew itself, Labour needed to extend collective rights. Yet, written out of his theology is the likelihood that John Smith, had he not died prematurely, would also have carried the party to victory in 1997 - and one that would have seen Labour return as the Tories collapsed into disarray.
What His Blairness has done is not approach elections pragmatically, but turned the experiences of the 1997 victory into a model valid for all time. It's commonsense that you must have a policy diet and a leader palatable to a plurality of an electorate, but Blair's "pragmatism" is ideological flimflam that ignores the political context of his victory and alibis his own safe, distinctly non-radical politics.