Boris Johnson’s uncertain response to the fuel crisis invites unflattering comparisons with Tony Blair, who was shaken by the same problem in 2000 after truckers and farmers blocked deliveries to petrol stations.
The Conservatives moved ahead of Labour in the opinion polls. “We were spooked and didn’t know how it would end,” one Blair aide recalled this week. Blair showed the leadership the current government lacks. His problem at the pumps was a one-off but Johnson’s go much deeper: supply-chain issues, shortages, price rises and a cost of living crisis made worse by government decisions. Brexit is one factor, even though pro-Leave ministers are in denial.
Love him or hate him, you can’t keep Blair out of it. In his conference speech, Keir Starmer couldn’t quite bring himself to use the B-word; if he had named Blair, there would probably have been enough boos from the audience to send the wrong message to the public. Instead, voters got the right signal: delegates cheered New Labour’s achievements when Starmer rattled them off. His message to his party was that it must learn from the best of the Blair-Brown era rather than trash it.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies