Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Blair deepens Labour's wounds with brutal attack on Brown

One of the gob-smacking revelations to emerge from Tony Blair’s memoir A Journey is his support for David Cameron’s economic policy.
“We should have taken a New Labour way out of the economic crisis: kept direct taxes competitive, had a gradual rise in VAT and other indirect taxes to close the deficit, and used the crisis to push further and faster on reform,” writes the former Labour leader.
Just in case we don’t get the point he adds: “If governments don't tackle deficits, the bill is footed by taxpayers, who fear that big deficits mean big taxes, both of which reduce confidence, investment and purchasing power.”
Blair takes the credit for giving the Bank of England independence in 1997, and, I believe, writes that Brown’s espousal of light touch financial regulation contributed to the hole the UK banks slid into. He details how Brown ruthlessly stymied pension reform.
Taken together Blair has undermined his former Chancellor’s main claim to success – his economic nous. But let’s leave the issue until we see Brown’s own book and what assertions he makes for his role in dragging the world financial system back from the edge.
As a former national newspaper journalist I take particular exception to Blair’s detailed account of his war with Brown. At the time New Labour spin – led by Alistair Campbell – insisted that these reports were a Fleet Street fiction.
We learn now the battle was a very real one, which drove Blair to drink. Instead of the truth the press were fed photo opportunities of the two men eating ice cream together.
It’s too late for Blair to say he always knew Brown would make a disastrous prime minister.
As far the Iraq conflict Blair remains in denial that he led Britain – on George Bush’s coat tails - into a illegal war that apart from the bloodshed has been a rallying cry for Islamic extremists, boosted the power of Iran, and sapped resources from the bigger world terror threat located in Afghanistan.
Looking at the leading candidates in the current Labour leadership race the same old divisions persist with Blairite David Miliband versus Brownites Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. The new leader - I'm backing David M. - has to heal the rift before Labour can expect to be again trusted by the British electorate.

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