No, Blair – Wokeness Didn’t Cost Labour the Elections, You Did

The recriminations from last week’s elections continue. Unindicted war criminal Tony Blair crawled out from whichever stone he’s been hiding under since leaving office to give his tuppence worth on the reasons Labour did so badly. The headline from one of the papers says that he blames ‘wokeness’ and warns that Labour could ‘cease to exist’. Well, many people are saying the latter. And one of the reasons for its poor performance and disengagement with the working class isn’t ‘wokeness’, the new term that’s overtaken ‘political correctness’ to describe anti-racism, feminism, and an attitude against forms of prejudice, but Blair himself.

Let’s start with an obvious issue that united people across the political spectrum. Blair launched an illegal war against Iraq as part of George W. Bush’s ‘War on Terror’. Saddam Hussein was supposed to have aided Osama bin Laden. He hadn’t, but Blair put pressure on the intelligence services and falsified evidence – he ‘sexed up’ the ‘dodgy dossier’ – to show that Hussein had. Hussein was a monster who butchered his own people, but he hadn’t moved out of Iraq since his failed invasion of Kuwait. Experts on the Middle East said that there he was regarded as a joke. The real reason for Bush and Blair’s invasion was partly to defend Israel, because Hussein occasionally funnelled aid to the Palestinians whenever he felt like it, but mostly to grab the Iraqi oil reserves. They’re the biggest in the Middle East outside Saudi Arabia. They also wanted to steal Iraqi state enterprises, while the Neocons were keen on turning the country into the low-tax, free trade state they wanted to create in America. The result has been chaos, sectarian bloodshed, war crimes, and the destruction of the Iraqi economy and secular society.

Despite the loud backing of hacks from the Groaniad, millions of ordinary Brits knew better. Two million people, including one of the priests at my local church, marched in protest. Blair shrugged it off and the invasion went ahead. It was contrary to international law, and there have been abortive efforts to have Blair and Bush arrested for their crimes and tried in the Hague. The Tory party opposed the war, as did the Spectator. I think in many cases this was just simple opportunism and opposition for the sake of being seen to oppose, as when they’re actually in power, there doesn’t seem to be a war the Tories don’t like. But some Tories, to be fair, were serious. The right-wing journalist Peter Hitchens honestly despises the ‘Blair creature’ for the way he sent our courageous young men and women to their deaths for no reason. People chanted ‘Blair lied, people died’. Absolutely. But somehow he’s being treated as some kind of respectable statesman.

And it was Blair who started the British working class’ disillusionment with Labour. He was far more interested in capturing Tory votes and those of swing voters. Under him, the party became pro-private enterprise, including the privatisation of the NHS, and continued Thatcher’s dismantlement of the welfare state. It was Blair who introduced the ‘work capability tests’ for the disabled and continued Thatcher’s programme of making the process of claiming unemployment benefit as humiliating and degrading as possible in order to deter people from signing on. But he retained the party’s commitment to anti-racism and feminism as some kind of vestige of the party’s liberalism. The result has been that large sections of the White working class felt that they were being deliberately ignored and abandoned in favour of Blacks and ethnic minorities. This is the constituency that then voted for UKIP, and which I dare say has now gone over to supporting Boris Johnson’s Tories.

As far as ‘wokeness’ goes, yes, the shrill, intolerant anti-racism and feminism is off-putting. I am definitely no fan of Black Lives Matter, but it has immense support amongst British Blacks and Asians because of the deprivation of certain parts of those communities. Labour BAME supporters also felt abandoned because of Starmer’s tepid, offhand support for it, and his protection of those credibly accused of racist bullying. They started leaving the party as well.

The Labour party did badly at the elections not because of the lingering influence of Jeremy Corbyn, but because of Blair’s abandonment of the White working class, and Starmer’s contemptuous attitude towards the party’s non-White supporters.

Labour may well be on the verge of ceasing to exist, but it won’t start winning in England again unless to rejects Blairism and returns to proper, traditional Labour values and policies.

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3 Responses to “No, Blair – Wokeness Didn’t Cost Labour the Elections, You Did”

  1. trev Says:

    I’m White Working Class, from a family of traditional Labour voters, but I don’t support Starmer, and I didn’t know what ‘Woke’ even meant! I keep hearing the term but I don’t know where it comes from or what it means. I never voted for Blair either, I voted Green throughout the New Labour years because I saw them as being more Socialist or anti-Capitalist.
    The only hope Labour had was Jeremy Corbyn, but the Right conspired to stop him. Now they’re up a creek without a paddle.

  2. lawrencesroberts Says:

    Mendelson got it about right in the Political press except 40 years of the neoliberal experiment have left the working class not so much aspirational as selfish. Too busy keeping body and soul together to take much notice. In the age of the three word political slogan, Labor cries of “Oh dear me” don’t get you very far. The Australian Labor party( there is no U in Labor) have just had there cloths stolen by a Tory, Keynesian budget but I suspect our Labor party is much like yours. It all looks to hard but the money and perks aren’t too bad on the opposition benches.

    On Wed, 12 May 2021 at 8:21 pm, Beastrabban\’s Weblog wrote:

    > beastrabban posted: ” The recriminations from last week’s elections > continue. Unindicted war criminal Tony Blair crawled out from whichever > stone he’s been hiding under since leaving office to give his tuppence > worth on the reasons Labour did so badly. The headline from one o” >

  3. Brian Burden Says:

    I let my party membership lapse in the seventies(?), turned off by Kinnock’s silly posturings. I was a fan of Blair up until the Iraq war – after all, he, or Mo Mowlam to be exact, brought about (so far) lasting peace in Northern Ireland – but I wasn’t inspired to re-join until I watched Jeremy’s first address to Party Congress on the Parliament Channel. With proper support from all wings of the party Corbyn would easily have won in 2017. Events since then have shown that the party machine is unfit for purpose. I get the impression that so long as Starmer continues to draw his parliamentary salary he is not really interested in Labour victory, more in imposing Stalin-style total control over the party. “Woke” is an example of a word with a perfectly honourable meaning: “alert to social issues” which has been spun and soiled by the right.

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