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25.11.15

Where is Liam Byrne headed?

Liam Byrne is nothing if not industrious. After a hotly contested by-election, a minister five minutes after becoming an MP. The hard work continued on the opposition front bench, even if he felt too Blairite to be in vogue during the Miliband years. When he might have been expected to back the more Blairite Liz Kendall, he enthusiastically supported Yvette Cooper.

Cooper outperformed Kendall but Byrne’s candidate was left to eat Corbyn’s dust, as a much changed party from the one that Byrne was first elected to represent was created. Back then Byrne was the poster boy for Blair’s ability to win by-elections in the face of impassioned campaigning by parties, the Liberal Democrats and Respect, opposed to the Iraq war. Now Labour has a leader who can seem to be willing Blair toward the Hague.

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27.02.15

The Labour right does not belong to Tony Blair

I had this on Labour Uncut earlier this year.

There are worthwhile endeavours within the Labour family that are devoutly non-factional. The point of Pragmatic Radicalism, for example, is to get away from left and right labels and to debate the way ahead in this unencumbered and comradely form.

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31.07.14

Will we ever see the likes of Blair again?

I had this on Labour Uncut yesterday.

We are now too cynical to entertain the idea of a leader who defeats all, reconciles all and ultimately encompasses all, Janan Ganesh concluded following Tony Blair’s Progress speech. We won’t see his like again. And in their absence, Ganesh observes, Labour seeks a squeaked victory on a left-wing platform, while the Tories devote all campaign resources to 40 seats that they are trying to retain and 40 more that they aspire to gain.

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31.07.14

There is building anger at home and abroad. We need a new big tent

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

“Today my work is global,” Tony Blair reminded us in his inaugural Philip Gould Lecture. Even when Blair was a mere domestic politician, the forces that he grappled with, as he often noted, were global. Policy Network, the international think-tank, sees these forces as having contributed toward 5-75-20 societies.

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17.02.14

Miliband’s reckoning must also reassure

I had this on Labour Uncut in January.

“The next election”, according to an answer that Ed Miliband gave on Friday, “will be a choice between a big reckoning and steady as she goes.” There wasn’t much that Mliband understated in setting out how Britain would change with him in charge. But this was one thing. There is no steady as she goes option.

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12.11.13

Survival skills

I have this in the November edition of Progress magazine.

As leader of the Labour party, Tony Blair was keener than his predecessors to align his party with the idea of aspiration. This was both a conviction that background should not limit anyone and a pitch for the support of the striving middle classes, so important in many marginal seats.

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28.05.13

Miliband must make, not accept, the political weather

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

“Are our problems so deep nobody can actually make a difference to them? My emphatic answer to that is yes.” The state of the nation was revealed in Ed Miliband’s slip of the tongue in the run-up to the local elections. Only one in three of those eligible to vote in these elections bothered to do so, down 10 points from when these seats were last contested in the halcyon days of 2009. Where given the opportunity, one in four voters gave their support to Ukip, which is as near as it gets to voting ‘none of the above’.

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26.03.13

Preview: Tony Blair’s speech on Europe

I had this on Labour Uncut last November.

While Andrew Rawnsley reports that Ed Miliband’s speech to the CBI on the EU “leant heavily against a referendum”, Peter Mandelson recently wrote in the Financial Times that a referendum is “inevitable”. Today Tony Blair will deliver a speech in which he will argue for Britain “to be at the heart of the EU”.

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09.10.12

Time to get off Tony Blair’s foreign policy bendy bus

I had this on Labour Uncut last week:

I’ve tried to watch West Wing but, pace Westminster, always found it too hackneyed to endure. It may be an equally unutterable thing to say, at least within the beltway, but Armando Iannucci’s the Thick of It is becoming tired and predictable.

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29.09.12

What we talk about when we talk about Tony

 I had this on Labour Uncut earlier this year.

Labour’s new policy supremo, Jon Cruddas, says that Tony Blair got worse the longer he was prime minister. Phil Collins, the Demos chair, not the Genesis drummer, says the opposite: Blair improved in office.

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31.07.11

The Economics of Tony Blair

I had this on Labour Uncut a few weeks ago.

Tony Blair, according to his economics advisor as prime minister, isn’t much of an economist. In contrast – the only leader to take Labour to three general election victories – Blair is a politician par excellence. While others are better on economics, what Blair says and doesn’t say on the economy is politically insightful.

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09.01.11

The globalised middle: social justice is key to more easing, less squeezing

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

Tony Blair made adaptation to globalisation a Labour leitmotif. Yet the existence of the “squeezed middle” is a symptom that he did not finish the job. Today’s globalisation is more about the rise of Asia than was the case when Blair became party leader. Easing the squeezing requires better adaptation to this Asian age.

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