Daily catch-up: Learning from the only Labour leader to win a working majority in the past 49 years

A flashback to those days when the sun always shone and things could only get better

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The Independent Online

There is a lot of Tony Blair about at the moment.

1. He came to talk to the Strand Group at King’s College, London, yesterday, as respondent to a talk by Michael Barber about his new book, How to Run a Government. I posted about it yesterday. I posted about it yesterday. The video is here, and the full transcript is now available here.

I was most interested in his sceptical view of David Cameron’s new machinery for delivering on his targets, the Implementation Taskforces:

“I don’t know about taskforces for ministers, really. I mean, it can work if it is not just another ministerial committee. If it is then I’m not sure it will. I think it is very important to understand why the Delivery Unit works and where it works and where it doesn’t. It works when you have the clearest possible sense of the priorities you want to achieve. Let’s assume that that’s reasonably easy to do. It works when you have really good, capable people, and strong leadership in the unit itself. That’s a lot harder to achieve, and I think you need a mix of insiders and outsiders for that. There are many really great civil servants who, if you give them a little bit of space and ability to innovate, they will innovate well, but I also think that because there are so many practices about change management that are developed in the private sector, that you need some peopling of that unit with quality people from the outside as well – or indeed from the voluntary sector. The third thing is, you have got to have the Prime Minister’s authority behind this all the time...

“So, I am not against ministerial taskforces and so on, ministerial committees, I mean all of that has its place, but I do think that the guy at the top has to be driving it the whole time... So, I don’t know enough about how the Prime Minister has set up this implementation unit and ministerial task forces and so on, but what I do absolutely know is that the only thing that will work is having a very clear idea of what you want to achieve, having really capable people – not including ministers for these purposes – who are absolutely focused on getting things done, and then having your own authority on delivered directly to that system which backs it up.”

2. Tony Blair is also in The Independent today, which carries extracts from an interview with Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of The Independent, in tomorrow’s Independent magazine. That interview is mostly about Blair’s work on the Ebola outbreak, but includes some of his observations on British politics. You will be amazed to learn that he thinks that elections are won in the centre ground.

Blair doesn’t comment directly on the Labour leadership election, but Andrew Grice reports that he “has recently met Liz Kendall ... and was impressed by her”.

3. Finally there is a publicity stunt in the Blair-hating Telegraph today. You can tell there is nothing in it, because if there had been they would have put it in the headline. “Revealed: The true scale of Tony Blair’s global business empire.”

What has been warmed up and served again is what we know well: Blair earns money from advising people, does a lot of work for nothing (including addressing the Strand Group), runs charitable foundations and gives vast amounts to charity. The best the Telegraph can do is to quote someone saying one of Blair’s roles posed a possible conflict of interest with his past work for the Quartet in the Middle East, before adding that the role was “not for profit”.

Also, the Telegraph reveals that the taxpayer pays for Blair’s police protection, which he needs because of stuff like this stirring up the stagnant pool of hate.

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