This article was published in The Independent on 29 July 2016.
In Corbyn-land, Blair is a byword for Satan. “Blairite vermin” is the term of choice for all dissenters, and the aim at all time is to be everything Blair’s Labour was not. Politically, of course, the Corbyn Project and Blair’s New Labour are at almost polar opposites. In their style and approach, though, Corbyn and Blair have more in common than either might like to admit.
Blair’s “den” has become a part of the furniture in British political history. The “call me Tony” attitude with which he supposedly opened his first cabinet meeting is undoubtedly part of what won him three consecutive general elections, but was also a huge failing. Cabinet meetings were treated almost as afterthought consultations, the twice-weekly tradition of PMQs was honed down to a less rigorous once-weekly stint, and gatherings of a very few key figures on the sofas in Number 10 – Blair, Brown, Mandelson, and Campbell, say – were the cornerstones of day-to-day governmental practice.
Corbyn has followed much the same exclusionary template. As Richard Murphy, a former Corbyn advisor and keystone of the Corbyn project said, “Shadow ministers appeared to have been left with no direction as to what to do. It was shambolic.”