Leading Article: Mr Blair has upset the old left - so he should
Monday 21 June 1999
Mr Blair is certainly capable of tailoring his message to different audiences. He also enjoys giving maximum offence to old-fashioned socialists. His joint statement with Gerhard Schroder on the Third Way, for example, went on about entrepreneurship, flexible markets and small and medium-sized businesses in a promising if unspecific way. But he can also slip into the socialist vernacular too, albeit in a modernised dialect: he can talk convincingly of the evils of social exclusion, of racism and of child poverty. The conventional wisdom now expects him to do more of that.
One of the Prime Minister's strengths, though, is in not bowing to the traditional gods whenever it seems the obvious thing to do - and this is one of the moments when he needs to contradict expectations and go out of his way to offend Labour's core supporters again. He must drive home the point that the old left's solutions are not relevant to the problems of today. If the old left is going to use the European elections as an argument for higher state spending, higher taxes and more regulation of businesses, then Labour is right to be "embarrassed" by what its traditional supporters believe, as John Monks of the TUC said accusingly at the weekend.
Even if the European elections did suggest that Labour's natural supporters were alienated - and the fact is that Labour's new converts seemed to have stayed at home too - it would be wrong to appease them. Mr Blair needs to repeat that efficiency and compassion go together: the poor are best served by enterprise, labour market flexibility and job creation. The weekend speculation about John Prescott's future is best ignored: if the Deputy Prime Minister can help sell that message to the conservatives of the left, then he has a role to play.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 Chelsea victory parade: Chelsea mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
- 3 US warned by Chinese media to stop meddling or 'war will be inevitable'
- 4 Woman, 21, dies after taking contraceptive pill that 'caused fatal blood clot'
- 5 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
The New York Times sparks criticism after releasing an all-white reading list
Glastonbury lineup 2015: The Women's Institute to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people