What I mean is that, back in the 90s, it was easy to be a party of aspiration. The IT revolution was promising a bright new future, so talk of aspiration, modernity and newness chimed with the zeitgeist. And the world economy was growing well and a favourable supply shock - a falling China price - was boosting real incomes. A government could thus deliver rising living standards simply by not screwing things up too much.
But now is not then. Labour productivity has been flatlining for years and the intelligent talk today is of secular stagnation, not of a new economy. This changes everything. In a world of zero productivity growth, people's real incomes can rise only in one of three ways: by moving from unemployment to work (which whilst a good thing is not what Mr Johnson means); or by getting a lucky supply shock such as falling commodity prices, which might not happen; or if one person's income rises at the expense of another's.
When productivity is flat, "aspiration" is a zero sum game.
This means that if Labour is to be a party of aspiration, it must do one or both of two things. Either it must shift incomes from profits to wages, say by embracing wage-led growth - which not Blairite and might not work. Or it must offer policies to raise productivity.
Now, there are many possible ways of doing the latter - albeit of perhaps dubious efficacy. But there's one worth emphasizing - greater worker ownership and control. There's good evidence (pdf) that this (pdf) can raise productivity, perhaps because it motivates people to work better, or perhaps because it makes better use of fragmentary, dispersed knowledge than central planners can.
This is why I say Blairism is irrelevant today. Back in the 90s, it was possible to be both a party of aspiration and a party of managerialism with its anti-egalitarian and pro-1% guff about "leadership". Today, this might not be possible, because the best hope for raising productivity and hence real wages lies in replacing managerialism with worker democracy."Aspiration" and radicalism might therefore be far more compatible than Blarities think.