Although eyes roll at the suggestion, Blair is a good place to start looking for how Labor can win again. When the left says returning to Blairism is not the answer, they are right, but they are wrong not to return to the example of Blair himself. What the job needs is precisely what Blair provided in 1997 as a personality: self-confidence, fearlessness, and the ability to reach almost anyone.
Blair in 1997 represented the essential correlation between the individual (charisma, communication, positivity) and movement (unity, discipline, momentum). The leader and the party fed off each other, recognizing their own responsibilities in their struggle for power and all that they could potentially accomplish. Labor cannot win without a leader who can convince the whole movement to turn a civil war into a crusade. This movement that exists to help others is so bad at helping itself. Blair’s reputation among activists led not only to distrust of him and his ideology, but also of his charisma and strong leadership, as if someone as skilled in politics as he was inherently false and unworthy. of confidence. It is as if being good is now considered incompatible with being Labor.
What should this messianic leader do? Fight the government fiercely on big business. own compromises. Don’t be mean. Combine strength with fairness and honesty. Focus on the cronyism and callousness of the Conservatives. Take a stand against the animosity of the right and the bankrupt Puritanism of the hard left. Preach a new policy of public good and local activism. Appeal to the best natures of the people, not to class division or national negativity. Above all, to offer a response to the impotence of the 21st century individualism which crouches on all our shoulders.
It seems dramatic to use a word like messiah in politics. It also looks potentially dangerous. Work doesn’t need a demagogue. He needs someone who personifies that alchemical blend of strength and compassion that is the best in movement. Who this person is and where he can be found is a guess. Angela Rayner has a certain indomitable, but was never able to win and hold central ground. Andy Burnham may have eyes to swim in, but I don’t think he can lead Labor to the Promised Land. Until the Labor Party finds its next messiah, the war in the desert is all it will know.