The legacy of Tony Blair
The timing of Starmer’s attempts to rebrand himself as Blair 2.0. could not be more ill-timed as the horrors of Afghanistan act as a timely reminder of what defined Blairism.
The right is quick to trot out the usual list of domestic achievements such as Sure Start, National Minimum Wage and devolution – some of which seem hollow gains now – but he will always be defined by his foreign policy failures.
And Afghanistan is on the list with Iraq as one of his many mindless homages to the now non-existent “special relationship” with the US.
It was Blair who, in 2001, blindly followed George W Bush in his war on terror committing British troops to conflicts which history now teach us were futile efforts to maintain Western hegemony over the middle east.
Zarah Sultana, one of the few genuine socialist Labour MPs, put it perfectly:
“Just as in 2001, Britain’s political class today seems almost unanimous in its belief that liberal democracy can be built at the barrel of our guns. This fantasy – which was cooked up by neoconservative fanatics in Washington in the 1990s and taken as gospel by their acolytes in London – was wildly implausible back then, as the likes of Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott saw well.”
And Blair himself gave the game away with his recent spate of statements on the situation: “The problem with what’s happened now is that it’s not just about the Afghan people and our obligation to them, it’s about us and our security”.
Much as the “war on terror” was a misguided and ultimately grossly mistaken attempt to seek revenge for 9/11, so the consequent occupation of Afghanistan by the west has proved an act of self-interest which has now dramatically backfired.
It is not surprising to see Blair stick to his proverbial guns and claim that continuing occupation should have been the way forward, but the reality is that such acts of aggression have clearly failed.
And who is accountable for the 457 British personnel who died in Afghanistan – not to mention the total 240,000 people killed over the last 20 years? It cost the UK £37bn – enough to provide the funds urgently needed by the NHS and social care combined.
The truth is the world is a much more dangerous place now than it was 25 years ago with the US role as the “police force” of the world now redundant as the balance of world power shifts towards China.
So Starmer’s obsession with depicting the Labour Party as a second-rate Blair tribute act looks even more foolish and misguided if he wants to “Win The Future” (WTF!) – who makes up these inane slogans?
What the Labour Party needs now is a leader of socialist conviction rather than one based on confection – keeping the establishment sweet in the pursuit of New Labour 2.0. is destined to fail spectacularly.