Tony Blair, three time British Labour Prime Minister, spoke to Arabian Business in early May 2019 stating that Brexit was sabotaging democracy.
“We should be concerned” he warned, “Western democracy is in danger of setting into two tribes of people who don’t talk to each other, listen to each other or like each other. That’s dangerous.”
Blair preached that “The form of it [democracy] is voting but the substance is a willingness to compromise and accept other people’s points of view as legitimate. All of these things are being undermined at the moment so that’s why we should be worried,”.
On some level you have to agree with Blair here, but his meaningless analysis of today’s political picture in the UK, and most of the Western world, lacks something: self-reflection.
Blair is unapologetically pro-business, and the task of his think tank, The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, is to further the cause of globalisation. Now, this depends on what sort of globalisation you are looking at, one of global business and capital that is not held back by the national state laws, and can avoid their public responsibilities of paying taxes. Setting up a charity or employing people in the western world is no excuse for the rapid expansion of capitalism into the reaches of the third world. To exploit their populations further, and deplete what is left of the world’s resources. This is where globalisation has failed and where the nation-state can be of some use.
Yet, it was this business mindset that hollowed out the culture of politics in most countries. The political fat cats of the traditional left and right parties moved ever closer to a liberal-capital loving centre ground of the political spectrum. The left were no longer holding the bosses to account, and the right wing were happy about this. Margaret Thatcher is famous for saying that she managed to get her political opponents to think the same way as her: That there is no alternative to capitalism.
Blair continued her legacy of privatisation of public services and outsourcing public work, paid for with public taxes, to private companies. Something we all know about private companies is that they have to make a profit, which I don’t dispute is a good thing, but they should not do it with the public’s money.
New Labour, as Blair relabelled it whilst removing the socialist heart of the once traditional workers’ party, was in power for over 10 years. They won three elections and joined the USA in the Iraq war costing over 500,000 lives. Whilst most hate Blair for the Iraq war, many others dislike him for basically doing what many politicians do best- Lie. Hijacking the workers’ party and using it as a tool to further the needs of the few over the many.
It is obvious New Labour did some things it can be proud of such as minimum wage, improving equality, the Good Friday Agreement and improving the quality of life of many. However, they were meant to do so much more, and they failed to stick up for workers, and instead embraced their new friends: Capital and Media. In a time of a booming economy, because of computers and lack of trade barriers, the UK become a lot richer. Blair’s deputy is famous for saying that everyone is middle class now. Except that we were, and are, still not. Quality of life has gone up it is true, but this does not mean that it was the invention of the Blairites that took over the Labour party. They took the party they knew could win elections, as the UK was coming to the end of its electoral cycle with the Conservative party. The modern and shiny party projected an image of what Britain wanted to be on the outside, yet the cost of this was the hollowing out of its interior.
As the parties became indistinguishable from one another people become despondent with politics, and now there were no forces to stop the elites from running the country in the interests of businesses. People saw politicians as the same, privileged graduates that studied PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) at one of the UK’s two top universities. They lie, they cheat, they steal. There was no longer any need for democracy in liberal land, we were all centrist-liberals now. Meanwhile, the working class were marginalised as a sideshow for the quasi-middle classes to watch on reality television shows whilst comfortably in bed on a Sunday morning. These people voted for a Labour government and were no better off for it. Not everyone was middle class, but many thought they were, mainly due to easy to get credit and the decline of manufacturing jobs.
Individualism was on the menu of the day and it continues to be now. If you haven’t made it, then it is your own fault, was the mantra that was sung in newly built PFI schools. Apparently there was enough for everyone to go around, and they had to reach for it themselves. Labour never restored the sense of community spirit, and of building things together for society, that Thatcher washed away. They ignored the Northern heartlands, Welsh valleys, Southern shell towns and Scottish outskirts for the metropolitan cities. they built new hospitals and schools for them, and gave the contracts to private companies, but the local infrastructure and economy remain shallow and empty for the locals.
People thought their votes could do nothing now, I mean there was no choice. Therefore, we have the polarisation that Blair warns of so strongly. people went from having two parties that looked the same, then they got angry and took to people they could identify with. Brexit is nothing but a catalyst to this, it was an opportunity for people to change things and they seized it. Now the liberals want to return to status quo. That will never happen.
In a time of loss of identity because of rampant capitalist-type globalisation, increasing financial inequality and lack of political representation people got angry. They look for others to blame and solutions to fix problems they haven’t created. One thing most people know, is that they haven’t been listened too. Populism is the art form of attracting voters, which is why we have this split, people before never represented them. Now, they have found people that do, whether we like it or not.
The liberals ensured that they utilised the social democratic welfare state to its full capabilities in the name of ‘improving’ public services, by making them market orientated rather than people focused. The utilisation of the state to make a profit, in the form of Private Finance initiatives (PFI), must have seemed like a thing of dreams to Margaret Thatcher.
All the contacts to build public buildings went to private companies. Carillion, one of the biggest firms, recently went bust, and the state is still paying off its bill now. With the Conservatives continuing this method of profit making, just under different abbreviations, the project of making money has become an art form for politicians. However in 2019, the liberals are ideologically dead and unpopular with voters. They have no answers the country’s problems, other than lets go back to the way things used to be when some of us were making money.
This is why Blair is the new Thatcher. He continued her legacy without lifting a police baton to the non-existent miner.
He talks about having to accept others’ points of view. Why was he accepting of Thatchers that there is no alternative?