I like Paul Bernal's description of Blairites as like Elvis impersonators who only impersonate the old, fat conservative rather than the younger radical man.
I'd add that one way in which this is true is that the young Blair had a distinctive economic narrative. Globalization and technical change, he said, were transforming the economy and required new policies - such as more education because low-skilled jobs were disappearing overseas, and macroeconomic stability to attract and retain investment.
This narrative had its faults. But it was an act of genius compared to the fiction that dominate politics now - the pretence that all was well with the economy until Labour "over-spent."
What Labour needs is a new economic narrative. It should consist of a diagnosis and solution to five problems:
1. Secular stagnation. The refers to the combination of slower innovation, low investment and weak productivity growth that have given us slower growth in real incomes: the IFS says median real incomes have risen only 0.4% per year in the last 10 years compared to 2.2% per year in the previous 40. Any serious economic policy would have ideas about what to do about this - be it more state intervention to encourage investment, or serious policies to raise productivity.
2. Job polarization. Middling-income jobs are in decline - and might continue to be as robots replace (pdf) people. This makes social mobility even harder - because some rungs of the ladder are missing - and means that better jobs might not be a way out of in-work poverty.
4. Limits of managerialism. Between 1997 and 2010 public sector productivity stagnated. This suggests that top-down management and targets might not be sufficient to raise efficiency. Which poses the question: what are the alternatives? Given that there are already signs that austerity has gravely deteriorated some public services, this question might become increasingly important.
5. Decorporatization. The numbers of self-employed have risen sharply in recent years. Is this a sign of the failure of mainstream employers to offer satisfying work? If so, is this temporary or long-lasting? Or is it the start of an "interstitial (pdf) transformation" towards post-capitalism? Given that this process threatens to squeeze profits and hence capitalist investment - as spending shifts to the non-corporate sector - should it be encouraged or not?
FWIW, my answers to these questions comprise supply-side socialism - such as a citizens income and worker-ownership and Brailsfordism. But that's not my point. My point is that an intelligent Labour party would need to tackle these issues. The right of the party needs some kind of narrative to resist the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. And the left needs to see that an economic policy must do more than merely oppose austerity.