On the first occasion when Anthony Lynton Blair intruded upon my consciousness, around 1994, it occurred to me I had seen pleasanter objects lying under lampposts during an epidemic of canine dysentery. My subsequent impressions were less favourable.
You could not ask for a more graphic icon of everything that is most rebarbative about the British political class, over the past 20 years, than Tony Blair. Every crass imposture (“Hey, look, I mean – come on! I’m a pretty straight sort of guy…”) was an illustration, to the point of caricature, of the complacent contempt with which the self-appointed elite regarded the mass of the British people. And, in all fairness, could they be blamed for despising an electorate that voted Blair into office on three consecutive occasions?
It is that consideration that most undermines one’s confidence in the proverbial common sense of the British public. On the day after Blair’s third election victory most people of sense found themselves critically reappraising the 1832 Reform Act and every successive measure that extended the franchise. The question was not so much whether people who voted three times for the Great Charlatan deserved to exercise the franchise, but whether it was a responsible policy to allow such demented souls to walk the streets.
The day on which Tony Blair resigned the premiership was one of bleak melancholia for all of us who had devoutly hoped that the Blairs would exit from public life in identical fashion to the Ceausescus. To see one of the chief architects of the Iraq War, the first of several conflicts that eliminated Middle Eastern dictators in the name of democracy (dear God!) and let the jihadist genie out of the bottle, reinvent himself as “Middle East Peace Envoy” was a surreal experience that signalled the lunatics had taken over the asylum, not just in Britain but globally.
But if you imagined that the Leader of All Progressive Humanity, the panegyrist of the People’s Princess, the historically illiterate clown who defined Britain as “a young country”, had ridden definitively into the sunset to devote the remainder of his days, in company with the Scouse Spouse, to making exponentially increasing millions of pounds, you were a rash optimist.
Nothing brings unpleasant infestations out of the woodwork more prolifically than a general election. Recently the Great Charlatan treated us to a nostalgic reprise of the boundless arrogance and fatuous complacency that characterised the decade during which he presided over the precipitous decline of Britain. It appears that, like Edith Piaf, he regrets nothing. In particular, he does not regret opening the floodgates to mass EU immigration.
What provoked this aggressive defence of the indefensible was apparently Ed Miliband’s declaration that Blair “got it wrong” when he allowed migrants from Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to work in Britain without restrictions. Blair riposted that politicians must insist that free movement across Europe is a “good idea”. That intervention illustrates two things: the delusion whereby Blair sees himself as pretender to the throne of Europe and the extent to which he is out of touch with
Even Ed Miliband, though his enslavement to the EU is as total as that of Blair, Cameron and Clegg, recognises that open and defiant championing of the EU and every other cause repugnant to the British electorate is no longer practical politics. Blair’s inharmonious remarks were an educative reminder of the arrogance with which the three consensual parties could comport themselves before the advent of UKIP. The classic illustration of this was the complacent mantra uttered by Tory grandees every time they cynically betrayed their core supporters: “They have nowhere else to go.”
Well, now they have and Nigel Farage is invitingly holding open the door. Tony Blair is out of touch about that development too, as his recent remarks show: “If you believe in the UKIP thing then say it, but don’t indulge their rhetoric, their sentiment around the issue [of immigration], because what you do then is you effectively give them a greater credibility.” Nothing could better illustrate the incoherence of Blair’s mental processes than that outburst of gobbledegook. If one believes in “the UKIP thing”, then one would have every reason to embrace that party’s rhetoric and sentiments.
But where Blair, for the first – and almost certainly the last – time in his life, fulfils a useful function is in demonstrating the kamikaze mentality that has brought the legacy parties to the brink of extinction. Blair believes the Labour Party should “argue” with voters opposed to immigration, even if it causes them to vote for another party. That is identical to the idiocy of Cameron, Osborne, Maude and May deliberately alienating the Conservative core vote. The habit of contempt for the electorate dies hard.
The collective alienation of the public from the legacy parties will result in a large popular vote for UKIP next week. But if that insurgency is rewarded with just a handful of seats, while the SNP, voted in by a Scottish turnout of around 3 million voters, receives something like 50 seats, it will be time for a radical reappraisal of the absurd electoral system in this country and the pseudo-democratic charade it sustains.
Cool Britannia is now entombed in perma-frost.