I despise Tony Blair more with every beat of my heart, but I never underestimated him.
I have been saying for well over a year that he would mastermind the come-back of the EU camp in Britain, that he would marshal the financial resources (including his own considerable fortune), he would manipulate the Fifth Column within the Labour Party (which is bigger than any other column in the PLP) he would seduce the Europhile Tories and that he would, as he did for so long, choreograph the commanding heights of the media market. And he has. Moreover, in an interview last week he finally claimed the credit, revealing officially for the first time how deeply and incessantly he has been at work. With demonic energy and fiendish sure-footedness given his cloven hooves he now stands, he thinks, upon the mountaintop.
I won’t repeat my points in columns passim about the virtually insurmountable task of selling Britain’s Brexit future with a sales force that couldn’t sell ice-cream in the Kalahari. About the absence of Farage – or myself if I may – from parliament and therefore the political front line at this time of Brexit-crisis. About the dissipation of UKIP into risibility then irrelevance and finally disappearing up its own fundament in a torrent of Muslim-hatred and undisguised racism.
Blair has played a blinder. He (and me) alone spotted the fault-line in British politics, namely that no party, for an historic moment, represented the interests of the most powerful sections of British society. The traditional mouthpiece of the ruling class – the Conservatives – were tasked (and without a parliamentary majority thanks to Theresa May) with piloting a course opposed by finance capital, what remains of industrial capital, the deep state, Whitehall and Westminster, the Captains of Fleet St and Broadcasting House and there was nothing honest they could do about it.
Simultaneously the Labour Party changed hands and New Labour was put to the sword and the party was in the hands of leaders like Corbyn and McDonnell who would rather have put their eyes out than smile for the EU camera. Insofar as they moved for the Remain cause they moved not out of love but out of self-preservation and the exigencies of a glacial transfer of power not even yet complete. A general staff with the likes of Seumas Milne and Andrew Murray at its heart meant a concentration AT THE TOP of Labour of the deepest dyed Euro-scepticism.
The Liberal Democrats – they were the future once you know – were reduced to a risible rump led by a joker who couldn’t make up his mind if men kissing each other was a sin.
So, what to do?
The answer was clear to Blair (and me) if no party could be counted on to wreck the honest decision of 17.4 million people then the dishonest in all the parties would have to be put to work in concert. And in concert with all of the above Remain forces has been the parcel of rogues formerly known as our partners in the European Union. Such an array of enemies would have been a formidable foe for even the brightest and the best representing the British majority. Instead we had Boris Johnson David Davis and Liam Fox.
The resulting chaos in the British political class has been impressive for a man-made disaster. Like a multiple car pile-up over several miles of the M1. The Tories have lost their majority, Labour is now different parties in practice and if necessary soon, in fact. Old Vince – the bed blocker of the centre as John Rentoul of the Independent described him- is treated like an embarrassing elderly relative who is beginning to drool in front of the guests and will shortly be put permanently in the attic. Tony Blair is calling the shots, and he is winning the war.
I now have no confidence that anything but a Brexit in name only will pass the House and quite possibly not even that. I consider it more likely than not that no package will pass even the Commons let alone the Lords and that a new referendum will have to be fought. This may cause a new general election. The multiple car crash will continue and will dominate British politics for a decade to come. And just as Randolph Churchill famously “forgot Goschen”, our rulers have surely “forgot the British”. For us, the Guerra Prolongada has just begun.