Tony Blair, international superstar, has jetted into London to deliver the inaugural Philip Gould Memorial Lecture at Progress, a think tank.
The speech would have enraged the likes of Len McCluskey, in the unlikely event that he listened to it.
Blair trotted out all the pleasing soundbites of the past. The ‘third way’ was, he said, ‘a hard-headed examination of the world as it really is.’ Progressive politics was ‘not a cast of policy but a cast of mind. It’s not a programme but a philosophy. It’s not time limited but perpetual.’ The audience drank of these comfy platitudes and were nourished.
Mr S, meanwhile, wondered what Ed Miliband, who has flown to America in pursuit of a photo-op with Barack Obama, made of it all. Blair’s words seemed to be infused with notes of criticism. He said that the financial crisis does not mean that the whole private sector is ‘contaminated’; the march of time and technology continues. ‘No political philosophy today will achieve support unless it focusses on individual empowerment, not collective control,’ he said. The left should ‘relax’ about a ‘certain convergence of thinking with the centre-right’. (If only the Prime Minister had the conviction to say this!)
Blair, winner of three elections, reminded the audience: ‘I only ever want Labour to win.’ One would have thought that the sentiment went without saying. Not in the Labour Party.
Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.