If we want the Labour Party to be a credible opposition again, Tony Blair must return to frontline politics

This article was published in The Independent on 2 May 2017.

Tony Blair is back.

It’s been a long time coming for the former Prime Minister’s gradual re-emergence into public life; a PR game played softly, softly – a rehabilitation programme for one of Britain’s most divisive figures, to put it delicately.

First there were the small interventions on the subject of Jeremy Corbyn’s catastrophic leadership. Then came the larger contributions on the EU referendum and the vital importance of staying part of the world’s largest international partnership.

Continue reading


Jeremy Corbyn’s problem is that he’s more Blairite than Blair

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.”

Continue reading

On the Summer Solstice, it’s not just neo-pagans like me who should be reconnecting with the natural world

This article was published in the Independent on 22 June 2016.

It was only when I was stuck in a traffic jam on the A303 in Wiltshire in mid-June that I really started musing on the nature of pre- and post-Christian Britain, and the pagan past that still has a huge bearing on our lives today.

Niche, I know, but bear with me.

Motorists slow down en masse over the Salisbury Plain’s central hump, gawping as they crawl along the single carriageway. Hence, traffic jam. Mercifully, there’s neither an accident nor any emergency services – just the 93 stones that make up Stonehenge, Britain’s finest neolithic structure, and a gathering place for quirky subsection of modern society: the neopagans.

Continue reading