‘Progressives’ on the proverbial pole.

Just a quick note on this story I saw in The Independent’s sister paper i yesterday. The linked version is a little bit different to the one I saw but it’s the same gist. Tony Blair is basically warning Ed Miliband away from moving Labour to the left of politics.

Tony Blair has warned Ed Miliband not to allow Labour to drift to the left under his leadership and declared that the party must continue to modernise in order to regain power.

Admitting there was “a risk” of Labour turning back to left-wing policies, he said: “There is a pattern that the Labour Party and indeed other progressive parties follow – they lose an election then they go off to the left, but I meet a lot of the younger Labour people now and that gives you great cause for optimism about the future.”

He says the left is old fashioned and that the party must continue to modernise. So the right is modern? I don’t know about that. And he implies too that young Labour activists tend towards the right of the party, but that’s not what I’ve seen from my experience at all.

Notice, too, the cynical ideology of New Labour: don’t do what you think is right, do what you think the voters will like. Don’t try to persuade the public about what you think the country should do, just move along with public opinion, wherever that takes you. In my opinion progressive parties have done far too much of that already, it’s why we have someone who describes himself as progressive saying that the 50p tax rate will disincentivise people to work. It’s why whilst Damian Green is pandering to the racist right by sending immigrants home – even those who, bucking the xenophobic stereotype, work and contribute to the economy – and Gordon Brown is apologising for calling a bigot a bigot, the only acceptable public discourse about immigration is on how best to reduce it.

In his book, Mr Blair argues that traditional left-right boundaries are breaking down and that to be successful, today’s politicians need to “rise above partisan politics”.

Blair’s philosophy seems to be that the left shouldn’t have progressive policies if they don’t think they’ll get them elected, but why would a progressive want to get elected if once they’re there they don’t implement progressive policies? It’s this cynical pole-climbing and contempt for the electorate that turns people off from politics, not ideology.


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