Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Blair's farewell to the TUC

Anne Treneman captures well what I could see of Blair's send off speech from the video on the BBC site. From the collosal lack of warmth in the union farewell to the vague sense that something awful was going to happen when the Prime Minister told us it was "getting warm up here".

The impression it left me with was that, for reasons entirely unknown to the RMT dinosaurs who left at the beginning, Blair really does look like a neocon these days. Irving Kristol, as close to a neocon father figure if ever there was one, described how "[a] neoconservative is just a liberal who got mugged by reality". Blair definitely looked mugged by reality.

Here he was telling his audience in simple language how greater spending was going to have to mean reforms they found uncomfortable if it was to be an effective measure credible with the public; telling them that greater regulation to protect employment could not achieve job security. All he was getting in return was the disaffection of people who didn't like what he was telling them and had never been open minded enough to really listen to what he has had to say. He looked resigned to the fact that his legacy was now in the hands of people for whom his Clause Four moment was an unpleasant memory they could now let go of.

Gordon Brown might succeed in keeping Labour within the boundaries of the sane to the extent that Blair has. However, even if he does keep the faith and hold his nerve to that extent it seems likely that, in the end, he'll be left in the same position as Blair; tired and beaten. What a prospect.

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