Sunday, August 30, 2015

Blair transforms from Napoleon to Cassandra

Thoughts on Tony Blair's article today,

"Corbyn's politics are fantasy: just like Alice in Wonderland."

The article begins by painting Jeremy Corbyn's support as part of a pattern of absolutist politics of  different political colours on both sides of the Atlantic.

Blair suggests that supporters of Corbyn, Donald Trump, his Democrat equivalent Bernie Sanders, the SNP, Syriza, and Marine Le Pen are all part of

"a politics of parallel reality going on, in which reason is an irritation, evidence a distraction, emotional impact is king and the only thing that counts is feeling good about it all."

He has just enough self-knowledge to ask himself what the effect is when "people like me" try to argue against Corbyn, and answer thus:

"Anyone listening? Nope. In fact, the opposite. It actually makes them more likely to support him."

His response to someone who had said to him, “If you’re writing something again, don’t blah on about winning elections; it really offends them.”

is that "It would actually be quite funny if it weren’t tragic."

I am not Blair's greatest fan and read his article looking for things to criticise, but all I could find to come back on was to make the point that when he was Labour leader and PM, Blair himself was not above appeals to emotion which treated reason as an irritation, evidence as a distraction or something to be manipulated, and support was to be won by making people feel good.

Cardinal Richelieu is supposed to have said

"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

Reading Blair's article today, only by challenging the view that TB qualifies as "the most honest of men" can you dispute that he has disproved Richelieu. While we're on the subject of quotes, the best one-liner in Sir Vince Cable's political career was when he skewered Gordon Brown with the suggestion that Brown had transformed "From Stalin to Mr Bean."

Reading Tony Blair's article today, and the comments and reactions to it, I came to the conclusion that he in turn has transformed from Napoleon to Cassandra:

e.g. from an egotistical warmonger to a prophet cursed to tell the truth but never to be believed.

He always talked a good game, and he still does. But because of the gap between what he said and what happened when he was in power, especially but by no means only on Iraq, people on right and left have seen through him.

The irony is that very few people are now any more inclined to believe Tony Blair when he writes and talks good sense, as his article this week does, than they are to believe his defence of the mess he made in government.

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