The Labour party needs to find a charismatic leader like Tony Blair of old after the disastrous leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, writes Jim Duffy.
I was having a good week this week. Tax return completed and getting ready for Christmas. I’ve bought my Secret Santa and the food list is ready to be purchased. I’m in charge of gravy for Christmas dinner this year, which I am thoroughly delighted about. No measly, grey-looking stuff – just oodles of meaty, salty, brothy gravy that is good enough to drink. All was going well, then up pops Tony Blair on the media. The man, as many of you will know, makes my blood boil. But and it is a big but, looking at recent political events, I didn’t switch off the radio. I decided to give him some air time and not to be too judgemental.
Having led the Labour Party, no, New Labour, to three election victories with sizeable majorities, I thought it best to give him one last go. Having been a Prime Minister who arrived at 10 Downing Street with his family to cheering crowds, I thought it prudent to catch what his subject was about. And being the only Prime Minister that I can remember being roundly cheered by the opposition as he signed off at the dispatch box, I reflected that maybe it was time to bury the hatchet. Do you recall David Cameron rallying his troops to give Blair a standing ovation? Quite remarkable really. So what was the outcome of my audience with Mr Blair on the radio?
Well, I was listening for his usual lofty arguments, helped by his lawyer’s training and, of course, a good few speeches under his belt. But, on his occasion, Tony Blair actually had me agreeing with him. It feels like we are both mates again.
His assessment of the Corbyn catastrophe in planning and executing an election campaign was spot on. His analogy of a leaderless and inept football team could not have been more profoundly apt. And his obvious annoyance, albeit dressed up in comedy, at the new Conservative Prime Minister parking his tanks on Blair’s Sedgefield lawn post-election, tells a big story. The team at Labour is bound for relegation after relegation.
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Fighting an election is like going to war. The SNP knows that and that is why they have been so successful recently. But, before going to war, a general has to have a strategy in place. I’m afraid the days of sending the troops over the top to get slaughtered in warfare are well and truly over. But, not if Jeremy Corbyn is leading you, it seems.
The Prime Minister is who he is. He is not the buffoon that he portrays and has an intellect that can be well hidden as, yes, he makes gaffes. He will make many more I am sure. But, before he went to war, he put in place a team that believed in him and strategists who were clinical in their approach.
I don’t know Dominic Cummings or his close grouping, but one thing is for sure, he’s a winner. His stock will have rocketed now and don’t be surprised if the US President, who will survive impeachment in my opinion, comes knocking on Boris Johnson’s shiny new door, asking for Cummings for the 2020 elections across the pond. As part of the Tory strategy team, Cummings is now a god as he as created a massive win for his general. The methodologies, strategies, communication, firepower and drive that General Johnson had at his fingertips was blistering. Hence the big win. But, it was more than just one side executing a strong strategy.
As the election unfolded and the Conservatives sat in the middle of the left and right, with the NHS firmly nailed to their mast, I found it bewildering as to where Labour would go next. And the bamboozlement continued with jaw-dropping policy announcements regarding free broadband, and so on and on... At the time, I wondered who was spouting forth all this stuff to the Labour leadership. It felt very un-joined up. It reeked of “my dad is bigger than your dad” policy making to grab the front pages the next day. And I knew then that this particular general – Mr Corbyn – was going to lose many of his troops. In short, he was sending them over the top with a rusty Tommy gun, no ammunition and no clue as to where the enemy machine gun nests where located.
Whether the current Labour Party is indeed a party of protest that really has no clue how to govern or simply a lost entity lacking leadership really doesn’t matter for some. These generals will continue to fight with old equipment and strategies. They are doomed. And this is exactly what Tony Blair was alluding too. The jaw-dropping lack of leadership that adorns the current Labour Party is evident for all to see as the incumbent hangs on, while I am looking at the substitutes’ bench to see who’s next. It looks dismal for many.
The succession plan is not in place. The manifesto will be buried away deep down in the bowels of Westminster. And the protest party will go on – if it is allowed to. And this is why Tony Blair came out of “retirement” this week. Something stringent, strident and totally awesome needs to break through from Labour. Do I see another Tony Blair skulking about? Dan Jarvis maybe? But, the bench strength just now looks weak. In order to survive the next five years, Labour needs a charismatic leader and a strong strategy team. Otherwise, it is all over.
Just ask Tony Blair...