Or why Jeremy Corbyn is the true heir to Blair.
Blair the Militant seized control of the Labour Party, ignored its loyal voters, cut the ties to its grassroots movement, packed the Commons benches with MPs selected to be in his own image, and squandered the possibilities of government at a time when the Tories were demoralised and defeated. He was successful at winning elections, whilst forcing down levels of participation, and losing party members. He was the man who brought us the Iraq debacle – and thereby brought us Cameron, Brexit, and, just for a bathetic coda, Jeremy Corbyn.
A cleverer politician than Jeremy Corbyn and those surrounding him might have been able to use his election to start to repair the damage done by Blair and Blairism. The growth in party membership – which started under Miliband, and accelerated under Corbyn was the basis for a slow, careful strategy of revitalising the grassroots of a proper, campaigning party. The change in constituency boundaries was a chance to refresh a tired Blairite PLP with new MPs untainted by the 1997-2010 years. But to do this effectively, Corbyn had to use his mandate to shape the direction of the party – not to lead the parliamentary wing. That really would have been new, different politics.
Instead we have come to this, the inevitable result of Blairism unchallenged in its fundamentals.
No one in the Labour Parliamentary Party has said anything at all that addresses the scale of the crisis we are in. Not Labour’s petty party crisis, which obsesses them all, but the grave and growing national and international crisis. None of them seems to be fit for purpose.
Blair set this course of events in motion. Corbyn has just finished the job.