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July 22, 2014


Churm Rincewind

I, too, rather agree with Janan Ganesh, though I'm not sure that you're right to criticise Tony Blair on managerialist grounds. The electorate requires politicians to claim impractical powers, so it's kind of unreasonable to object when they do so. Or, to parry your quote from Julius Caesar, "the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars but in ourselves".


The labour goverment aims in 1997 were to decrease disparages in wealth, education and health outcomes. They had a large overall parlimentary majority and an economic boom to work with. I read somewhere that they did not acheive any of those three aims. So does that tell us something about what government can acheive of its aims.


Typo - disparities

Dave Timoney

I think you're unnecessarily narrow in identifying Blair's "managerialist ideology" as his weakness. This was clearly just an aspect of a wider commitment to neoliberalism at home and abroad, which included the privileging of The City, his mugging by US neocons over Iraq, and his subsequent ascension to the global 0.01%

Janan Ganesh makes the astute point that "he did not come from anywhere in particular". His problem was not over-confidence, but a lack of the groundedness that encourages caution or scepticism. It's worth remembering that long before the "Bliar" meme, his nickname was "Bambi".


Fuck, I thought the war mongering, mass murdering bastard had died.

Martin S

"productivity in the public services stagnated"

Isn't that unsurprising?

Public services were relatively underfunded pre-1997 and relatively well funded post-1997.

Increasing funding wasn't going to increase productivity, was it? You'd expect threadbare public services to be relatively efficient.


The point that rings a bell with me is the one about "his belief in a "modernity" which only an elite could discern". He simply thought that some views were old-fashioned and if some members of his own party held those opinions then they simply had to be by-passed. Thus the fetish for globalisation and the naming of those who had a critique of globalisation as "Luddites". Thus the belief that those who questioned the idea of invading Iraq as "anti-American" and thus on the wrong side of history. Spin played a role in hiding the key issues; he and his spin-doctors knew what phrases would get certain sections of the press on-side but this created an echo chamber effect with no-one pointing out that these were talking-points and not real issues about how the world works.

His own party didn't question this very much because it seemed to be a vote-winning formula. Party members seemed to be surprised that members of the public would turn up to meetings and question Blair's assertions and assumptions about Iraq. But even before that people were questioning the assumptions and assertions behind policies like Academy Schools and Foundation Hospitals, which were debates that his Party had barely had.

The London Underground PPP and the whole of PFI - these were supposedly Brown's policies but Blair was PM - did he not understand them? In general the whole thing about "private - public partnerships" was a failure to understand that private sector suppliers to the public sector have to be kept under control and not brought inside the tent.

In short, Blair understood little about the world and was too driven by the idea of being different from Attlee and Wilson. He was too focused on short-term popularity to be able to tackle the UK's dependencies, such as on oil, the financial sector and the USA.


The passing on an Assisted Dying Act can't come soon enough.


"Fuck, I thought the war mongering, mass murdering bastard had died."

Not when there's millions to rake in... and his mate W's case... canvases to deface.

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