Tony Blair

What we can learn from Tony Blair’s election victory 20 years on, according to Richard Angell

Labour had answers for all of the big questions from general election voters in 1997, writes Richard Angell, director of Blairite pressure group Progress

First published in the Mirror

As we mark 20 years since that remarkable 1997 landslide, it is worth reflecting on why Tony Blair took the country by storm and won three full terms for Labour. (more…)

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Byelection battles

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

The final furlong in Copeland and Stoke, the McDonnell amendment and a cutting Brexit intervention by Tony Blair – Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

Theresa May cannot even back her own policies in Copeland and Paul Nuttall has a problem with the truth in Stoke-on-Trent Central. Labour is set to win both next Thursday. Taking nothing for granted, I will be out in the latter on Sunday and hope you can join me. It is not over until it is over. 

Last week I wrote ‘it seems more important to [Copeland] voters that they save the hospital rather than the Labour party’. If this was wishful thinking by Labour, May has given the choice a huge boost. Considering the prime minister has centuries-long conventions on her side – broken only by Gordon Brown in Glenrothes – the only reason for her to appear in Copeland is to stop the closure of maternity services or defend her cuts to the National Health Service. To stonewall a ITV interviewer is the worst of all worlds, but you will find no complaints here! Paul Waugh at the Huffington Post suggested if Labour wins it will be ‘Theresa what won it’. When voters read the front page of the local paper – the lady’s not for talking – they will not be lost for words. 

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Tone-deaf Labour

First published in the New European

Why is it left to Tony Blair to point out the government’s Brexit failings, asks Richard Angell

She may have voted Remain, but after the country opted for Leave, Theresa May performed an about-turn to appoint herself the leader of the latter.

Her ‘Brexit means Brexit’ slogan and the appointment of Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davies is supposed to reassure the 52 per cent that she is the champion they have been waiting for. It has fallen to Nick Clegg and Tony Blair to head up the 48 per cent.

Yes, the referendum has split the country in half, but considering how many were heavy-hearted Leavers or reluctant Remainers, it seems odd that the prime minister uniquely positioned to unite us seems intent on entrenching our division. The question the public will be asking is: who is speaking on behalf of all of us? (more…)

Bedtime: Time to put the last Labour government to bed

Bedtime

Kitty Ussher, Jacqui Smith, Anne Begg, Stephen Twigg and Mike Gapes assess how Labour did. Richard Angell explains the motivation for this new assessment, and argues that the last Labour government should be the inspiration to be in government again – not the inspiration for the next government.

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Introduction Time to put the last Labour government to bed Bedtime it might be, but only so the Labour movement can awaken as a party of government again, writes Richard Angell

The mantle of credibility Trust in Labour on the economy was hard won, deserved, then needlessly lost, suggests Kitty Ussher

The bedrock of social justice Labour rejected the fatalistic assumption that public services could never really deliver higher standards or fairer access, reflects Jacqui Smith

The escape from poverty Labour made strong progress in the battle against poverty and unemployment, finds Anne Begg

Equality for all We must not forget the equalities legislation passed under the Labour government, writes Stephen Twigg

A more progressive world The new Labour government in 1997 was immediately internationalist in its approach, recalls Mike Gapes

Conclusion Principled and proud The last Labour government should be the inspiration to be in government again, not the inspiration for the next government, argues Richard Angell

Why It’s Time to Put the Last Labour Government to Bed

First published on the Huffington Post

BedtimeBeing backward-looking is a curse in politics. We need to know our history, so that we do not repeat the wrong bits. But pining for a bygone era, or looking to recreate something that has been and gone, never works. Worse still it stops you being able to shape the future. As centre-left people who want a Labour government, this is our task.

Today, at the Labour pressure group Progress where I am director, we launch Bedtime our stocktake of the record of the 1997-2010 government. It takes an audit of those thirteen years across five big areas of public policy: the economy, pubic services, welfare, equalities and human rights and foreign policy. We do this not to harp on about bygone days, but to help put those days firmly behind the Labour party – and to play our part in helping it move on. To put behind us, the inheritors to the party’s modernising tradition, once and for all, the idea that we are simply looking to pick up where Tony Blair left off in 2007 or Gordon Brown left off in 2010. (more…)

Time for a new tune

First published on LabourList

Nostalgia is to modernising politics, what rust is to iron. Corrosive.

Modernisers in the Labour Party have been dealt a heavy blow. Our candidate Liz Kendall did us proud but the result shows the challenge we face to win over our fellow party members if we want to be able to put our case directly to the British public. (more…)

You need more votes than your opponents, not predecessors

First published on LabourList

Elections are simple affairs in a first-past-the-post country. The task of the candidate is to get more votes than their opponent. Not 50 per cent of the vote, nor a reliance on being enough people’s second preferences to deny your adversary victory. Just more – one will suffice – than the other person standing.

The role of the party leader is not dissimilar. More votes than the party on the opposite benches and you invariably get more seats in the House of Commons. This has been true in every election for time immemorial bar, February 1974 when the Conservatives beat Labour by more than 200,000 votes, but had four fewer seats, and 1951 when the reverse was true. 2015 was no close run thing. Labour polled two million fewer votes than the Tories. (more…)

‘Weapons out, everything else in’

First published on Progressonline

Today Tony Blair talked to Richard Angell from Progress about Israel’s decision to liberalise its policy on Gaza and his hopes for Middle East peace.

Always known for being an optimist, Tony Blair doesn’t miss the opportunity to launch into how the change in Israeli policy will make a difference to everyday Gazans. “It should mean that they can get ordinary foodstuffs and household items as a matter of course. There’s a permitted list at the moment which has only got about a hundred items on it. If you switch that to a prohibited list it means thousands of items go in. So it’s a big difference.” (more…)