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.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea transfer collapses: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the word become popular?
- 4 Isis releases graphic video showing four Shia 'spies' being burned alive in Anbar, Iraq
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge on the show?'
Wes Craven dead: Why Johnny Depp owes his career to director’s 13-year-old daughter
Trevor Noah, Edinburgh Fringe review: New Daily Show host warms up in inspired style
VMAs 2015: You can already buy ‘Kanye West for president’ t-shirts
VMAs 2015: Taylor Swift and her buddy Kendrick Lamar clean-up at awards - full list of winners
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms