Letter No 65  by Mike Allott:  email | back to directory

27 Feb 2016

Dear Sir or Madam,

Memo to Blair on support for Corbyn: Iraq, tuition fees, bank bonuses …

Deborah Orr judges Tony Blair responsible for the banking collapse (First thoughts, 25 February). Therefore, she says “young people, were instructed to suffer the pain of austerity”. But if we sentence Blair today, we ought first to go back to the beginning. In 1995 the Labour party changed its constitution. It disavowed ideological socialism. It embraced market socialism by declaring: “We work for a dynamic economy, serving the public interest.” Ten years later, in Labour’s third consecutive election-winning manifesto, Labour was able to proclaim: “We are winning the argument that economic dynamism and social justice must go hand in hand.”

OK, “economic dynamism” has since been substituted by the more pejorative term “neoliberalism”. But when Blair, Clinton and Schroeder showed us the third way, it was part of a growing international consensus on liberal economics. We now do business, communicate and socialise in ways that would have been impossible without a dynamic internet; we benefit from globalisation and cheap consumer goods from all over the world. In a dynamic market place there is no shortage of opportunity both for individuals and communities (and indeed nations).

Better surely to have to surfed the big bang of liberalisation than paddle around in calm protective waters. So, should Blair really plead guilty and say “I failed. I utterly failed”, then it was also Labour’s failure. And much of the liberal world’s. Is liberalisation so threatening that we must revert to a comfort zone of failed old arguments? 

Mike Allott
Chandlers Ford, Hampshire

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