Sunday, February 09, 2003
Wider still and wider
posted by Jonathan Calder |
Blair, in short, is the populist who, at a time when the incompetence and sleaze of all governance has left many disenchanted with politics, panders to the widespread mood by seeking to de-politicise the Labour Party. He goes even further than Harold Wilson, who proferred a magic solvent, a new technology, whose white heat would dissipate yesterday's struggles and conflicts, and precipitate an electoral coalescence, a Labour Party that would be the natural party of government.
That goal did not satisfy Blair. Propelled by profound inner needs that are more significant even than his wish to take up heroic stands against those he knows are in retreat, he ceaselessly continues expanding the boundaries. His wish is to become the leader of a party above party, representing society as a whole; Labour, he told the 1995 Labour party conference, was the one-nation party, a claim that comes perilously near to acclaiming the ideal of a one-party nation.
If follows that those who demur, and would dare to mock this impossible and, within a democracy, sinister dream must be treated as cranks or outlaws; by the autumn of 1995 he was declaring in an Observer interview that "those who fail to fall in" with his modernising project "need their heads examined" and added an ominous comment, reminiscent of Soviet incarcerations of political opponents in mental hospitals, that in his view, although he was a politician not a psychiatrist, such opponents "require not leadership but therapy".
Leo Abse The Man Behind the Smile: Tony Blair and the Politics of Perversion (1996)