Here is a picture of the great debate at the Queen Mary Labour Society on the motion, “This House believes Tony Blair saved the Labour Party”, in October 2013, about which I wrote for Politico.
Many thanks to Ludo Orlando for the photo.
• In my long quest for the sources of Blair rage, which is one of the great animating forces behind the Corbyn catastrophe, I never formulated it as neatly and as brilliantly as Sarah Ditum: Being “right” about the Iraq war gave her “a gleaming sense of right and wrong” and helped no one.
That sense of enraged vindication has disoriented a lot of people on the left.
Hard for older people such as me to realise, but the Iraq war was an early and formative experience for a lot of people. Someone else who has written brilliantly about its effect is Stephen Bush, two years ago: “Even if I was right all those years ago, I was right only by coincidence.”
• Enjoyed: Ed Balls on Anglican cathedral music.
• I have written for The Independent today about the mystery of Iain Duncan Smith’s survival. Yes, the Work and Pensions Secretary really did deliver yesterday’s speech about sickness benefits at the offices of Barclays Wealth in Canary Wharf. Michael Deacon proved that this was not beyond parody:
Adviser: “Er, Secretary of State? That big speech you’re preparing – the one about how sick people on benefits need to knuckle down and get back to work. I gather you’re giving it at Barclays Wealth, provider of investment management to, as its own website puts it, ‘wealthy individuals’.”
IDS: “Yes, that’s right.”
Adviser: “The offices of Barclays Wealth? Not, say, a rundown working men’s club in an area of poverty and high unemployment?”
IDS: “Nope. The offices of Barclays Wealth. In Canary Wharf. One of the richest financial districts on Earth. Where the bonuses flow like champagne.”
Adviser: “I see, Secretary of State. Are you sure that’s wise?”
IDS: “Why? What’s wrong with Barclays Wealth?”
Adviser: “Nothing at all, Secretary of State. It provides excellent services. It’s just that… well, people who use Barclays Wealth tend to be rich. And people who are on sickness benefits tend to be poor. Do you think maybe the choice of venue might look… not quite ideal, symbolically?”
IDS: “Symbolically? How do you mean?”
Adviser: “It’s just that… if you had to give a speech about how the nation needs to tighten its belt, you probably wouldn’t give it while sipping Pol Roger on a yacht made of diamonds, would you? I mean, it might accidentally reinforce the totally inaccurate perception that you’re some kind of uncaring cartoon villain, mightn’t it?”
IDS: “Oh, what piffle. Go and work for Jeremy Corbyn.”
But perhaps IDS’s survival isn't that mysterious after all. As I say, the phantom of universal credit is mostly harmless, because it isn’t going to happen, so perhaps Cameron has cynically decided not to bother with actual welfare reform and keep IDS, a paleo-Eurosceptic, onboard until after the EU referendum.
• And finally, thanks to Moose Allain for this:
“U ok hun?”