Socialist Worker

A BBC documentary that wants to reheat Blairism

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2775

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair (Pic: BBC/Mathieu Polak/Getty)

This documentary is the story of Blairism as Tony Blair himself would like it to be told.

It says Blair and Gordon Brown—together with Peter Mandelson and Alistair Campbell—“modernised” Labour and rescued it from electoral oblivion. So before we suffer the meat of the show, we’ve got to endure some fluff about how wonderful they both were as young men.

Brown as the fantastically intelligent student from a working class background. Blair as the cool young rebel who found his calling as a politician.

The young Blair wasn’t very political, he says. But, says the show, he recognised Labour had problems—and only he knew how to fix it.

The problem with the Labour Party, surprisingly, was the Miners’ Strike. That’s not apparently because Labour didn’t back the miners but because it was seen as too close to them.

This is fantasy history where people didn’t support the miners, and Labour’s task was to distance themselves from nationalisation, trade unions and the like.

He and his mates all say this was simply about modernising the party’s image, with a new red rose logo. But there’s clearly politics here as well. As Mandelson says, “Communications can only take you so far. It’s your policies that take you past the winning post.” What were those policies? Well, “Tony was asking whether there wasn’t something that the Tories had perhaps got right.”

You won’t miss the non-too subtle overtones linking Blair’s bid to make Labour “electable” with Keir Starmer’s today.

One difference is striking though. Blair and the New Labour right at least had an idea of what they wanted to do with the Labour Party. All Starmer has is reheated Blairism.

Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution. On Mondays, 9pm, BBC2. The first episode is already available on BBC Iplayer

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