The extreme Centre

I see Mr Blair and others are out and about complaining that the centre is not strong enough. He thinks the centre ground needs reinforcing, as he dislikes the way it is assailed by Brexiteers of all persuasions, and by the Corbyn tendency in the Labour party. He still sees new Labour as ideal, as the perfect balance between “the extremes”. It is high time this piece of self serving nonsense was exposed to some criticism.

The problems with New Labour were their three main extremisms.

They took an extreme view about UK intervention in Middle Eastern wars, believing we could use military force to create liberal democracies in various Middle Eastern countries. The public disagreed, and the results of their military actions despite much bravery and heroic effort by our forces were disappointing. They did not understand or manage the politics of the MIddle Eastern countries well, relying too much on force.

They took an extreme view about the ability of the economy to withstand a huge build up in public and private debt and credit, before making an even more extreme judgement to bring some banks crashing down for no good reason. They told us they had abolished the boom-bust cycle, only to preside over the biggest boom-bust since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

They took an extreme view about EU integration and government. Whilst telling us each Treaty was a mild tidying up exercise with all the potency of the Beano, they signed the UK up to a comprehensive cradle of laws and controls making democratic government in the UK difficult. They always denied the public a referendum vote on their centralising tendencies, always denied their significance, and always claimed when challenged that EU laws were for the best regardless of what they said. Their EU actions led directly to the referendum which they helped lose.

Mr Blair needs to grasp that the world has moved on from New Labour. We now know their economic claims were false, as their era ended with major recession and banking crash. We know their EU policy was based on the lie that the EU was only of interest to Conservatives, and that nothing important was happening. We know their policy of favouring large corporations and encouraging cheap labour from the continent to take the low paid jobs they created was not popular with many voters.


  1. Richard1
    March 22, 2017

    Andrew Marr’s interview with Tony Blair did not challenge any of this. mr Blair got off lightly on the dreadful error and failure of the Iraq war. He was able without challenge to attribute the financial crisis to the technicality of the development of new financial instruments which “no one understood”, rather than to the buildup of bank leverage, a direct consequence of monetary policy and of Labours own regulatory changes. He was not challenged on the disasterous Brown bank bailouts or the running of large deficits during a boom with record tax receipts. And of course he was not challenged at all on the surrender of powers to the EU without a referendum, which served to shift the balance of public opinion.

    It would be good to see a re-run of the interview but this time with Andrew Neil in the chair.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 22, 2017

      When does Marr challenge anything or ask anything demanding or sensible of his guests? Or indeed anything that does not come from his “lefty big state think” angle.

      That is why he gets these people on. They do not dare to face someone bright like Andrew Neil who would ask them something sensible.

    2. acorn
      March 22, 2017

      It was in fact the new financial instruments that did the damage. The casino bank managers, didn’t have a clue what the “wonks” were doing and the levels of risk that were being accumulated. The Bank owners didn’t know how “leveraged” their banks were; amateur ministers of finance, didn’t even understand the word!

      Instruments like synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), an abstraction of securities based on a “reference portfolio” that can contain derivatives based on the underlying securities and insurance-like instruments called credit default swaps (CDSs).

      Particularly the use of “naked CDSs,” so-called because they’re purely speculative bets by parties that don’t hold any of the actual underlying securities being “insured”, selling this junk left AIG needing an $85 billion loan from the FED, to keep the failing company from going under.

      1. Richard1
        March 22, 2017

        It is true that banks’ boards and managements were incompetent and in some cases negligent and perhaps even selectively criminal. But had leverage levels been more sensible – as many experts now agree – that’s the one thing that could have confined the problem to the shareholders & maybe bondholders of the banks and avoided the ‘need’ (which in fact didn’t exist) to bail them out. In the case of the UK, the Blair-Brown regulatory change, removing bank supervision from the Bank of England which sets monetary policy, was surely a major contributor to the inadequate oversight.

        1. acorn
          March 23, 2017

          The inadequate oversight, was down to the shareholders of these Banks; and, the Non-Executive Directors and Chairmen, they appointed to do the oversight!

      2. libertarian
        March 23, 2017


        “It was in fact the new financial instruments that did the damage”

        Wrong …. most of these derivatives arent NEW at all.

        A credit default swap (CDS) is a financial swap agreement that the seller of the CDS will compensate the buyer in the event of a loan default by the debtor or other credit event. This is to say that the seller of the CDS insures the buyer against a loan defaulting. The buyer of the CDS makes a series of payments (the CDS “fee” or “spread”) to the seller and, in exchange, receives a payoff if the loan defaults. It was invented by Blythe Masters from JP Morgan in 1994.

        The 2008 crisis was actually caused primarily by sub prime mortgage lending and escalated from there in a domino effect

        1. acorn
          March 23, 2017

          It was the collateralising and securitising of sub-prime mortgages, and then selling the paper to mug punters, that did the damage.

          BTW. I think I / we know far more about financial derivatives, than you give us credit for.

          1. libertarian
            March 26, 2017


            I’m sure you can let us know your experience with financial matters and from where your knowledge comes

            By the way as you are an expert on these instruments you will know that early examples of mortgage-backed securities in the United States were the farm railroad mortgage bonds of the mid-19th century which contributed to the panic of 1857

            The securitization of mortgages in the 1970s had the advantage of providing more capital for housing at a time when the demographic bulge of baby boomers created a housing shortage and inflation was undermining a traditional source of housing funding.

            So as I said hardly new as you claim

            Oh and as of recent years MBS have once again become a major profit centre for US banks

    3. Ed Mahony
      March 22, 2017

      I despair how Parliament was fooled by Blair. I remember being called an anti patriot for opposing Blair’s war simply because I said Hans Blix hadn’t been given the opportunity to find WMD. But the war was wrong for many other reasons, above all, no post war plan had been prepared. The war was based, to an important degree, on the arrogance of Western power.

      I agree with you about Blair not being challenged about handing over power to EU. And about Labour’s spending and not saving for a rainy day. I do think you’re wrong though over the banks. We were pretty close to depression. The banks had to be bailed out to prevent anything like that happening.

      I’m no supporter of Blair or New Labour but he did do a good job in Northern Ireland. And also he did try and unite this country and imbue it with a sense of optimism. That’s really important. Sadly, our great country is divided. For all sorts of complicated social reasons: envy, snobbery, insecurity etc .. I think every leader has to try and address these issues, including dysfunctionality in society in general.

      1. Richard1
        March 22, 2017

        JR has explained very well here in the past why the bank bailouts were not necessary, how the crisis was greatly exacerbated by official policy and how it could have been better handled.

        1. Ed Mahony
          March 23, 2017

          ‘JR has explained very well here in the past why the bank bailouts were not necessary’

          – Does that include the Republican’s Emergency Economic Stabilisation Act and Troubled Asset Relief Programme of 2008. (And the bailouts in Germany and elsewhere). And if not, why not?

    4. Peter D Gardner
      March 22, 2017

      I didn’t see that interview. In others Blair frequently relies on the simple tactic of saying he had information not available to the public or was acting on advice and he cannot say any more than that he honestly and truly believed he was doing the right thing and you may disagree, which is your privilege, fair enough. Followed by cherubic smile. The only possible response is to call him a liar. No presenter would do that on TV, would they? It would be like stamping on a dog lying on the ground, stomach upwards in surrender. Heartless.

  2. Roy Grainger
    March 22, 2017

    What is troubling about Blair is he seems to be oblivious to the fact he is strongly disliked across the entire political spectrum, he has negative approval ratings across all political parties (including his own), and all age groups, and all geographies, and all social groups, and by both men and women (there was a recent poll showing this) – so why does he think he’s furthering his cause by attempting to lead it ? All he is doing is damaging it (good !). On a much much smaller scale it is a similar delusion to George Osborne thinking he could ever become Mayor of London.

    1. Mitchel
      March 22, 2017

      Delusional they may be but they have powerful backers who have no intention of letting a trifle like democratic legitimacy get in the way of their “vision”.

    2. zorro
      March 22, 2017

      The sin of self-delusion…..


    3. Lifelogic
      March 22, 2017

      I agree fully Osborne is hugely unpopular and rightly so after his incompetence as chancellor, his absurdly high stamp duty rates (that mainly attacks Londoners), his punishment budget, bonkers sugar (some sugar) tax and endless other misguided tax grabs and government waste.

      He is clearly only in demand for his “contacts” rather than his ability. Anyone who introduces enforced national wages, high stamp duty turnover taxes and a sugar tax is clearly economically illiterate.

  3. Lifelogic
    March 22, 2017

    The results of their military actions despite much bravery and heroic effort by our forces were a disaster – not just “disappointing”.

    The current government is essentially just middle left in the Blair, Major, Brown or even Miliband mode, this other than that it has been forced to turn round Brexit by the electorate. At least we think she has.

    These people all suffer from the total delusion that yet more state tax, borrow, waste and regulate is the solution – it is the problem together with absurdly damaging market interventions. particularly in energy, health, housing and banking.

    On digital radios surely the best solution is to keeps FM for all that needs to be live (news, weather reports, topical discussions) and use digital for podcasts that can be listened to (without gaps) when full downloaded and stored in the player. Things like music, plays, books indeed most of the output where live is not needed anyway.

  4. Lifelogic
    March 22, 2017

    So now they want you to put your computer in the hold (together with the lithium batteries that were banned before in the hold). But in the hold it will probably not be inspected fully and this only allies on some routes – why. If these things can be explosive (and catch fire) why would they be safer in the hold? Also why only on some routes?

    It does not sound very well thought through to me. Then again so little that government does ever is.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 22, 2017

      True the hold is non pressurised and so harder to damage.

    2. Lifelogic
      March 22, 2017

      Princess Anne is quite right regarding Genetically-modified crops. Perhaps she could come out with a statement saying that “climate alarmism” and “renewable energy” is perhaps somewhat overdone or better still is “a gigantic con”.

      Then again she might not ever get on the BBC again if she did so biased on the religion are they.

      1. Denis Cooper
        March 22, 2017

        I’ve always liked Princess Anne, but even so I don’t think she knows any more about the complexities of GMO’s than I do … probably less!

    3. zorro
      March 22, 2017

      I was saying the same thing today. Surely the deterrent is in the face to face challenge at security check in…. There is a theft risk with baggage in hold and other cases will be locked. Is it to speed up security checks? Without any rationale, I cannot see why this proposed option is more secure. Wasn’t Lockabie a checked in luggage incident?


      1. Lifelogic
        March 23, 2017

        Indeed a Toshiba radio cassette in the hold.

  5. Mark B
    March 22, 2017

    Good morning.

    The mythical centre ground in politics goes by another name – Consensus politics. It is the kind of politics that the likes of, Macmillan and Heath preferred. It is the kind of politics that is found on the continent and, in particular, those that use proportional representation. It being able to deliver stable government. Well, outside Italy anyway.

    It therefore comes as no surprise to me that those whole prefer the mythical centre also prefer membership of the EU. And it is also no surprise that in our political system, which is adversarial, those that prefer BREXIT seem to be more of the conviction type politician.

    What the likes of Macmillan, Heath, major, Blair, Brown and Cameron want is negotiation and compromise, which one might like to observe, got us strikes, the Three Day Week, war, near financial ruin, and of course, membership to the worst club one could possibly imagine.

    What the Great Lady stood for was a strong set of belief’s. One of those core beliefs was of ‘Choice’. I should be free to choose, and take responsibility for my choices in life. Whether you loved or loathed the Great Lady, one thing we all agreed on, with her you knew where she stood. And she stood on ‘our side’.

    Another thing about consensus politics is, that it allows political parties to be much closer aligned. This mean the electorate does not have any real choice and, effectively, we end up being run by a cosy political club. Once out of the EU its malign influence will hopefully recede and we can at last have our old system that has served this nation well back.

  6. Sir Joe Soap
    March 22, 2017

    Yes, this weasel technique was also used yesterday. Mr McGuinness’ IRA terrorist history can be balanced against his peace-making tendencies, to end up neutral. But then there are the good and the disgraceful in Blair/BBC world. You are, unfortunately, in the latter category and Mr McGuinness in the former one.

  7. formula57
    March 22, 2017

    Well said! Surely no-one at all listens to Mr Blair anymore though.

    Another extremism was the willingness to tinker extensively with the UK constitution in a series of ill-conceived, ill-thought out measures that were always bound to make matters much worse, as we are seeing alas.

    1. Lifelogic
      March 22, 2017


    2. getahead
      March 22, 2017

      Did he not muck around with the HoL to his party’s advantage?

    3. Peter D Gardner
      March 22, 2017

      But they do! I went back to UK after living inAustralia for a while. Blair had been over there to do his conjuring tricks and they had worked – even convincing the normally cynical Paul ‘scumbag’ Keating. My opinion, formed during that visit, was that he was a charlatan from top to bottom. In UK I was appalled to find my ex-Commanding officer had supported Blair . He quickly became disillusioned once Blair was PM but it shook me that Blair could be so convincing to otherwise intelligent and perceptive judges of character. Iraq was the last straw for most of my fellow ex-Service friends. It was the most appalling error, regardless of one’s politics.

  8. Narrow Shoulders
    March 22, 2017

    Extreme centre, radical centrists.

    What a fantastic put down of their fundamentalist doctrine.

  9. Alex
    March 22, 2017

    Very well written John. Succinct as always. Why don’t you have a job in the cabinet?

    1. William Long
      March 22, 2017

      Could it be because he is a Conservative?

      1. Roger Parkin
        March 22, 2017

        You’re got in one. Well done.

      2. zorro
        March 22, 2017

        It probably doesn’t help……


      3. Lifelogic
        March 23, 2017


  10. Eh?
    March 22, 2017

    Mr Blair has said he believes we British were wrong to vote for Brexit. He has to also think the British considered Brexit looked like the Centre. So in real terms we are speaking of the perception of “centre” and not necessarily actuality. When Mr Blair finds himself in a desert with camels he obviously believes he is in the centre of a sandpit in the centre of London and not miles to the East. I had a sat nav like that. It doesn’t get MY vote.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 22, 2017

      Blair promised a referendum on the EU Constitution.

      “The question will be on the treaty, but the implications go far wider. It is time to resolve once and for all whether this country, Britain, wants to be at the centre and heart of decision-making or not.

      “Time to decide whether our destiny lies as a leading partner and ally of Europe or on its margins.

      “Let the Eurosceptics, whose true agenda we will expose, make their case. Let those of us who believe in Britain in Europe not because we believe in Europe alone, but because we believe in Britain, make ours.

      “Let the issue be put. Let the battle be joined.”

      Well, he and his successor dodged out of that – the French answered for all of us on the particular question of the EU Constitution, and of course the Lisbon Treaty was in no way a repeat attempt to get the same legal measures through in a different packaging so there was no need for a referendum on that – but now the issue has been put, battle has been joined, his side lost, and he should accept that.

  11. Alan
    March 22, 2017

    It is however true that people like me who supported what I regarded as whole nation Conservatism – the policies sometimes advocated by people like Mr Heseltine and Mr Clarke – now feel we have no one to represent us. The current Conservative party seems very right wing to me, the Labour Party very left wing and ineffectual. The LibDems probably come closest to my beliefs, but their policies have wandered all over the place over the last 20 years and they are small and ineffectual.

    I imagine most readers of this blog will either be indifferent or pleased at my situation, but it does explain why I listen to Mr Blair and Sir John Major and find myself agreeing with much of what they say. I’m almost certainly not alone.

    1. a-tracy
      March 22, 2017

      “The current Conservative party seems very right wing to me”
      Can you give me five suggestions of “right wing” policies they’ve enacted so that I can work out if I’m centrist or right wing. Those political charts I’ve done in the past suggest I’m pretty bang on centre and I don’t think the current Conservative party is right wing at all.

      I don’t believe the Conservative party talk enough about the good they do all around the world. How much the UK has spent since they came into power in refugee camps around Syria. How much we have spent in Foreign Aid. How much we done with our charities around the third world. How much we have spent precisely on defence. I’m sure there is lots more I’m not aware of.
      When do we see charts of how much we are paying in total towards tax credits and how that compares to the past, how much in child benefits and how that compares to the past, how much we are investing in research, development. All we hear are negatives – it is time we start to bang on about the good the UK does all around the world.

    2. A different Simon
      March 22, 2017

      Alan ,

      The right-wing / left-wing categorisation has limited usefulness because at the extremes they amount to the same thing – Statism .

      Additionally , the current Conservative party believes in Govt intervention and meddling just as much as the Labour party .

      They burden small companies and the self employed with ever more bureaucracy such as quarterly reporting to the HMRC to replace annual tax returns . Despite having a bloated public sector they put the burden of pensions admin onto employers .

      In particular after recent successes in funding for specific sports to generate the highest medal haul it now believes Westminster and Whitehall , can , and should , pick which industries are likely to be winners .

      The Conservative party has always been slightly more enthusiastic about the EU and it’s forbears than Labour , particularly old labour so is anything even more driven by the fabian socialist dogma .

      The current “Conservative” govt under Michael Fallon and coalition under Cameron have disbanded the UK’s armed forces and entered into a 50 year defence agreement with France without scrutitny of the HOC . Even Britain’s nuclear deterrent is to be passed first to France then to the emerging EU military (Germany) .

      A Labour govt would never actually have been able to get away with unilateral nuclear disarmament like this .

      What can you see which is right wing about the current Conservative party ?

    3. Denis Cooper
      March 22, 2017

      “No nation” Conservatism is what you mean.

      This lot are recruiting, with the aim of nullifying the EU referendum:

      With Clarke as a Vice-President and Heseltine as a patron they may suit you.

    4. Lifelogic
      March 22, 2017

      What? “The current Conservative party seems very right wing to you”? You must be kidding – very high and still increasing taxes, workers on company boards, gender pay reporting, endless red tap, the appalling monopoly NHS …… what on earth is right wing about them? Theresa Miliband May is at least as left wing as Bliar & Brown were. Hammond just as bad too with his dire anti business budget.

      Surely you mean “No Nation Conservatism” – the policies advocated by people like Mr Heseltine and Mr Clarke!

    5. Hope
      March 22, 2017

      I fell sorry for you. You really need to get better informed if you listen/like to people like this. Where have you been when they were in power! If you think the Tories are extreme right you are totally deluded. There is little conservative about them.

  12. BCL
    March 22, 2017

    I have a very strong dislike and distrust of Mr Blaire, one shared by very many people I think. His behaviour over the war in Iraq is widely held to have been reprehensible, at best. I think he lost all public trust in that episode. I, like many, perhaps most, believe he lied to us. From my perspective, his domestic politics were a disaster. I am a little sorry that his efforts to bring peace to Northern Ireland, where I think he did play a significant part and did do good things, are overshadowed by all the other matters. Were it not for the fact that every time he opens his mouth on Brexit he bolsters support for it, I’d recommend him to keep his mouth shut!

    1. Hamsterwheel
      March 22, 2017

      Re N Ireland – it was Major who started that off, not Blair.

    2. Beecee
      March 22, 2017

      Do not forget that in order to achieve that ‘peace’ Mr Blair gave the IRA terrorists amnesty from prosecution, one which he did not give to the soldiers and policeman who fought to stop the terrorism!

      He still craves the oxygen of publicity but has yet to apologise for all the ills he has brought about!

      1. Lifelogic
        March 22, 2017


  13. Bert Young
    March 22, 2017

    Blair’s view on the “centre” ground is just anther piece of a dying personality who still wants to say “notice me”. The centre ground for all political parties is nothing but an attempt to draw differences of opinions together ; they do not work and they are not representative ; watering down does not work .

    In any event Blair’s record was – in retrospect , a bad one highlighted by the way he took us into a conflict costing many lives , needless expenditure and a much weakened reputation . As a leader his personality was not capable of introducing varied opinion and taking a course of action he was uncomfortable with ; his constant battle with Brown was typical of the day to day dissent that existed .

    Today he has one ambition – to lead the EU !.

    1. Denis Cooper
      March 22, 2017

      I think that ship has probably sailed, because first of all he would have to acquire the citizenship of one of the remaining EU member states.

  14. The Two Bullseyes
    March 22, 2017

    If Mr Major speaking deadpan did’t stand next to Mr Blair speaking deadpan he wouldn’t be half as funny.

  15. DaveM
    March 22, 2017

    I think you should encourage Tony Blair to speak out in support of anything you disagree with. He doesn’t seem to realise that he is the most reviled politician dirtying our media at the minute. Although John Major is working hard to claim that accolade.

  16. Dave Andrews
    March 22, 2017

    You can add to the list of extremisms the obsession with welfare, leading to a culture of dependency. The irresponsible are renamed the vulnerable and the feckless the unfortunate. The truly vulnerable and unfortunate have been obscured by the burgeoning numbers who not really needing the assistance of the state have ordered their lives to become dependent.

    1. Anonymous
      March 22, 2017

      It was about recreating demand for Labour. Mass immigration of poor people and the increase in the welfare state.

    2. Lifelogic
      March 25, 2017

      Indeed the augmenting of the feckless seems to be their main agenda. I suppose they think it buys the left more votes. We therefore have most of the state sector and most of the lower paid and unemployed living off the backs of the squeezed middle in the private sector who are then taxed into submission. They are squeezed, taxed and inconvenienced far to much this killing the golden goose. Yet the largely parasitic government, bureaucracy and feckless just grow and grow and grow.

      But May & Hammond clearly want even more of this lunacy. Sugar taxes, taxing landlords on profits they have not even made, pension mugging, attacks on the self employed, higher taxes on insurance, gender pay “gap” reporting, workers on boards, stamp duty at 15%, the workplace pension, building on employment “rights”, expensive religious energy, Hinkley, HS2 ……. oh for a Conservative Government.

  17. June Romans
    March 22, 2017

    I have long since formed the opinion that anything Tony Blair says is the exact opposite of what is true and right.
    It surely cannot be a coincidence that he is the only former PM who hasn’t got a knighthood – it’s impossible to imagine that ego refusing to accept one, and equally easy to imagine the political suicide of anybody who offered him one.

    1. Beecee
      March 22, 2017

      Sorry to disagree June but neither Gordon Brown nor David Cameron have yet to be knighted.

      Blair probably thinks he deserves a hereditary peerage of at least Duke rank!

      1. Doug Powell
        March 22, 2017

        Blair wouldn’t accept a peerage because he would have to declare his business interests!

      2. getahead
        March 22, 2017

        David Cameron office boy.

      3. Andy
        March 22, 2017

        Prime Ministers usually had to make do with an Earldom.

  18. Chris
    March 22, 2017

    Mr Blair, as so many of the political elite, are globalists determined to work towards the new world order of global governance, with national identities subsumed into large trading blocs, with mass movement of labour to facilitate the operation and further aggrandisement of the corporate giants. The vote for Brexit was for many a vote against this doctrine, but Blair et al do not give up, and they have tremendous power and wealth behind them. If anyone is any doubt, google George Soros, and his apparent support for one world governance.

    1. forthurst
      March 22, 2017

      “We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time magazine, and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promise of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The super-national sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.”

      —David Rockefeller, at a 1991 Bilderberger meeting.

    2. Mitchel
      March 22, 2017

      It predates Soros.In 1950 “father” of the Federal Reserve,James Paul Warburg(of the famous banking family – and whose forebears had financed the bolsheviks),addressed the US Senate committee on Foreign Relations with:-

      “We shall have world government,whether or not we like it.The question is only whether world government will be achieved by consent or conquest”.

      The whole speech is worth googling-in it he identifies Russia/USSR as the main obstacle.Plus ca change!

    3. Ed Mahony
      March 22, 2017

      I agree with you and i think this is one of the great things about Brexit.

      I think a lot of people are scared of patriotism because of how it was manipulated by the Nazis and other hard right-wingers during the 1930’s and WW2. So much of our history since WW2, has been to try and avoid anything to do with them.

      We need rescue the word ‘patriotism’ back from how it was abused in the 1930’s and WW2. That is it actually a virtue. And that patriotism is NOT the same as nationalism. Patriotism is about love of country. Not about thinking one’s country is superior to others or about hatred of others (the Nazis).

      But this till take a lot of hard, subtle work as unfortunately there is still a lot of suspicion about ‘patriotism’ from people on the left and in the centre, and there are SOME on the right who still think that patriotism is about thinking oneself superior to other countries or being fearful of other countries etc … When it is clearly not about this.

    4. Peter D Gardner
      March 22, 2017

      Of course. Globalism provides for the circumvention of democracy. Being rich and relatively insulated from ordinary affairs, such people would not be too concerned were Britain a dictatorship. Indeed, so long as he or she were in their pocket, all would be well for them. The extreme activists on the left also favour such arrangements as they have consistently failed to persuade people to their views, so imposition by undemocratic institutions, the EU being a prime example, is exactly what they want.
      Once democracy is properly cooked and no longer a significant obstacle, they will fal out among themselves, as undemocratic ruling elites always do.

  19. Mike Stallard
    March 22, 2017

    Certain parts of what you say are characteristic of the modern Conservatives.
    Above all the debt which is fast moving towards 3 trillion pounds. I won’t bother you with the details by writing out the exact figure with all the nine noughts behind it. It is a lot. Last time (2008) we crashed, Mr Brown was able to save the world by going into debt. Next time (and Brexit is rolling towards us) it may not be so easy. President Trump is a bit of a loose cannon, the EU is in terrible difficulties what with the elections and how we will fare when we duck out of the EEA, I really do not know.
    But hey ho – keep b*ggering on, as Winston so happily put it.

    1. enock
      March 22, 2017

      12 noughts in a trillion

      1. Mike Stallard
        March 22, 2017

        I noticed this as soon as I posted it! Thanks.

    2. Ian Wragg
      March 22, 2017


    3. getahead
      March 22, 2017

      Mike you need to read Norman Lamont’s piece in the single market. It’s in Guido/Brexit Central.

  20. oldtimer
    March 22, 2017

    Mr Blair, post office of Prime Minister, has also revealed how, as a member of the global elite, he has been able to line his pockets with £millions of fees. Mr Blair is not a man of the centre, he is a member of this elite that possesses and disposes of extreme wealth. It presumes to tell the rest of us what we must do and what we must put up with. The referendum result was, in part, a rejection of this elite and the institution through which they seek to exercise control .

    1. Chris
      March 22, 2017

      Your comment, OT, “The referendum result was, in part, a rejection of this elite and the institution through which they seek to exercise control” is spot on. However, the political elite are blinded by arrogance and a fanatical belief that they are right. To them, the views of the people are irrelevant, apparently. The problem is, of course, that this elite has huge wealth and power. They will not be stopped easily.

  21. alan jutson
    March 22, 2017

    Whilst I agree with some of your statements John, the problem with Government of all persuasions is they actually want to be in control of the way the Country works and how the population should behave.

    Because the government want to be involved in all aspects of our lives, taxation is now massive, so to live to an even reasonable standard, those who work have to work harder and longer, and now it is the norm that both parents work when they have young children.

    So rather than parent your own child parents foster them out to nurseries.
    Families move apart because they cannot purchase or rent near their own original family home.
    Because there is distance between new parents and original families, when parents become elderly social care is involved, rather than family care.
    Because younger couples now need to work such long hours there is little time for past family bonding, all members are like ships passing in the night.
    Because younger people are so busy, they no longer get involved in any form of community or charity work unless it is paid work.

    Rather than the big Society that Mr Cameron was so fond of, we are fast becoming a National individuals, and part of that reason is because of government interference in all things.

    Afraid we are now reaping the law of unintended consequences.

    Soon the only way a family will be able to live close together is to share a house, but then we now have rules about overcrowding, minimum amenities, bedroom sharing, parking limitations, etc. etc.

    No wonder people break the rules !

    1. alan jutson
      March 22, 2017

      If a family do manage to share a house and its in London they now may have problems with inheritance tax and probate charges, so much so that the rest of the family may have to borrow money to pay the taxes and probate fees, and to do that they may have to sell up each time someone dies because such a Probate charge is made on every death, and Inheritance tax on each second death if married.

      Thus the government gets multiple bites at the same estate and the same family home.

      Perhaps an extreme example, but very. very possible when all of the wealth is in the home.

      Have politicians really thought this through ?

      No of course not, completely and totally out of touch as usual.

  22. ChrisS
    March 22, 2017

    Blair was the acceptable face of Labour and as a result, he won three elections.
    Unfortunately Cameron chose not to object to Labour’s excesses and as a result, Brown just went for more and more spending while Cameron stood by and watched.

    I always thought that Brown must have had a hold over Blair – probably details of a scandal that, if revealed, would ensure his resignation. Blair was no fool : what other reason could there have been for him to have allowed Brown to screw up the economy so comprehensively ?

    One of Brown’s worst acts at the Treasury was to increase Health Service spending by 40% without any requirement to modernise working practices. The result was an explosion in pay and UK doctors became the highest paid in Europe. But that was only one of many disastrous mistakes.

    Unsurprisingly, New Labour and Blair are now discredited, even in the eyes of the Labour Party.

    Corbyn and his his rag bag of far left supporters will never accept that England voters are patriotic, sensible and small “c”conservative.

    For most people, the evidence of the Foot, Kinnock and Miliband campaigns and Labour’s current standing in the polls would be enough. But Corbyn & Co think that the Electorate are wrong and can be persuaded to vote for a full blown socialist programme if only they are repeatedly told they are wrong throughout an election campaign.

    We know better.

  23. English Pensioner
    March 22, 2017

    The whole of politics seems to have been moving steadily to the left during my lifetime, and thus Blair’s ‘Centre’ is now what would once have been considered to be quite a way to the left. I suspect if you analyse the Tories policies now, they are probably quite similar to those of Clement Atlee’s Labour party after WW2.

  24. DaveM
    March 22, 2017

    Off topic, and at risk of sounding like a broken record:

    Social care in desperate need of funding.
    Roads in desperate need of repair.
    Defence funding way below where it needs to be.
    School funding insufficient.
    Border force funding insufficient.
    Police funding insufficient.

    £12 billion given away annually to…..who knows?? (Against the will of 70% of people who pay taxes).

    Outrageous amount wasted on Welfare and the NHS.

    I’m not saying we should stop all genuine foreign aid, but COME ON!

    1. Mike Stallard
      March 22, 2017

      In view of what will happen during the next melt-down, perhaps we ought to think of paying off a bit of that debt which is rapidly approaching £3,000,000,000,000.

      1. DaveM
        March 22, 2017

        Anything – just stop giving our money away!

  25. John Probert
    March 22, 2017

    Mr Blair lots of argument supported by no policy or values
    I seem to remember

  26. John Probert
    March 22, 2017

    Well said Mr Redwood

  27. Hamsterwheel
    March 22, 2017

    I think I’d rather read the Beano.

  28. Antisthenes
    March 22, 2017

    If anything deserves the nomenclature of of the extreme centre then it is the nationalist parties, Lib-Dims and labour. Anything with a socialist connotation to it has views which wish to radicalise society by coercion if persuasion does not prevail. Conservative parties do hover around the centre as they prefer persuasion more than coercion. They respect democracy. The left like to be seen as on the centre ground and will vehemently declare they do. When in fact it is only so in the rhetoric and not in their actions and practices. Corbyn,s views are no different to Labour’s main stream views. It is not his views they dislike but that fact he couches them in a way that they lack the facade of being centrist.

  29. Doug Powell
    March 22, 2017

    Spot on JR.

    The first person I came across who used the term ‘Extreme Centre’ was Tariq Ali, who wrote a book on the subject.

    Does your use of a common terminology mean, as many people now believe, that previous left/right voters are so disillusioned by the Extreme Centre that they are coming together, eg Brexit/Trump?

    There was a recent discussion on CrossTalk (RT), which covered the subject very well. I realise this may result in your excommunication from the Conservative Party, but it is well worth a watch, even if you don’t put it on the blog. Also, it is an example of the type of programme you never get on BBC. Unfortunately, it will take up 25 minutes of you valuable time.

    Best wishes,


  30. Julian
    March 22, 2017

    1 more: extremely high immigration.

    1. Iago
      March 22, 2017

      Yes, mass immigration at a nation-changing, actually at a nation-destroying, level, a policy continued by Cameron and May.

  31. Heaven!
    March 22, 2017

    There are so many deprived children going to University now that when they get into work they’ll be able to send food aid to their deprived parents and save the State a fortune.

  32. Ed Mahony
    March 22, 2017

    I think ALL political positions can become fanatical. Whether of the left, right or centre.

    – And I think all three political positions have their strengths and weakness. And about carefully selecting the right ones, and rejecting the rest. Obviously as a Tory, I think the Conservatives have more than the others. But it’s not black and white. And as soon as we see things black and white / manichean, then we’re drifting into fundamentalism (whether Tory, Liberal or Labour).

  33. A-ha!
    March 22, 2017

    Why does Mr Angus Robertson SNP utter the consonant “a” at the ending of some words, sometimes, eg “European Union-a” or “European Unio-ňa ?
    Is it on a par with rhoticity and the intrusive “r” consonant? Without disrespect, is it his personal speech impediment?… A learned or chosen idiolect? A dialect of Scotland? A manner of legal jargon?
    Otherwise it would be helpful if he would speak some known variety of English or he may deafen everyone to his belov-ed-a Independance-a

    1. A-ha!
      March 22, 2017

      Correction: vowel “a” not consonant “a” ,unless you are pedantic-charitable and believe I was legitimately modifying a “vowel” into “consonant” as in could not in the utterances cited constitute what we know a vowel to be nor perform. No, extremely good looks is my good point not words

  34. ian
    March 22, 2017

    I do not see any changes apart from cuts to services and the ref on the eu.

    Debt in household is at all time record, companies debts are at their highest and government debt has gone through the roof with banks sitting 500 billion of taxpayers money if things go wrong and could do so at any time, as for the middle east, you have just flatten mosel to the ground and are complaining that the people are leaving, that because there nothing left and that on top of other war you have had while in power.

    What has happened is the con party liberals have taken over from the labour liberals, the majority of policies that labour had in government were supported by con party liberals at the time and those policies are still on going like banking and supporting big businesses with wars in the middle east.

    Your party are now saying no bust while we are in power, on the back of labour QE which came from oxford uni where labour MPs study and was exported to the usa by mr brown, the only difference between this policy with the con party and labour is that now want to give the QE money to the people and not to the other lot as now.

  35. ian
    March 22, 2017

    Con party government through HS2 have taken on 17 PR agencies to spin HS2 to the public costing hundred of millions of pounds, they have ploughed over 3 billions so far with no rail laying in sight and don’t ask how much the plans cost

  36. ale bro
    March 22, 2017

    Tony Blair and New Labour promised constitutional reform but instead delivered elected hereditary peers!

  37. Richard Butler
    March 22, 2017

    Ha, I’ve been on about the extreme ‘liberal’ consensus centre for a while. I find ‘liberals’ to be authoritarians that are happy as long as they are running things.

    JOHN – important new research debunks Remainer myth number one;

    Think tanks reject claims Brexit vote was driven by white working classes
    ‘some 59% of the middle-class overall voted to quit the EU compared with 24% of the working class’


  38. Richard Butler
    March 22, 2017

    Brexit fears mount in Spain
    Maintaining the UK’s relationship with the single market is a top priority for Spanish fruit and vegetable exporters, according to Fepex.

    The Spanish exporter federation said concerns among its members over the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union were rising.
    “Fepex considers it a priority to continue with a single market without borders between the EU and the UK


    “Any restriction on free trade with Britain would inevitably be at the cost of Dutch exports, prosperity and employment,” it said

  39. Peter Lloyd
    March 22, 2017

    It is very necessary to restate the high risks New Labour took with the public finances and to acknowledge that it played a significant role in encouraging high risk lending in the private sector also, particularly in housing, just as the Clinton administration did in the US. It is quite right to say that this was an extreme policy.

    The EU policy describes very well the disregard he and New Labour had for ordinary British people and the Middle East and Afghanistan adventures reflected a self righteous arrogance that was divorced from practical reality.

    All three New Labour policies were reckless as well as extreme.

  40. Denis Cooper
    March 22, 2017

    Off-topic, a couple of “What a bunch of hypocrites” items.

    “EU and Japan to protect world order through free trade”

    “EU and Japanese leaders committed on Tuesday (21 March) to conclude a trade deal “as soon as possible” in an effort to defend a world order disrupted by the new US administration.”

    Donald Tusk noted “Japan and the EU “are tied deeply together by mutual commitment to maintain an open, free and fair global trading system”.

    But exactly the opposite applies to the UK; because the UK wishes to completely control its own immigration policy, as indeed does Japan, the EU must as a matter of principle seek to disrupt the existing easy and well-organised two-way trade with the UK.

    “Mentions of UK to stay in EU treaty after Brexit, says MEP”

    “Danuta Hübner, a Polish MEP who chairs the constitutional affairs committee, told POLITICO that the U.K.’s exit from the EU should not result in treaty change, nor should it mean legal experts would be obliged to cover the words “United Kingdom” with correction fluid.”

    “The European Commission refused to comment on Hübner’s claim. But privately some officials acknowledge that modification to the treaty could be carried out at a later date.”

    Yes, this is the same EU which Sir Ivan Rogers warned is a “very legalistic body”:–eu-ambassador-ivan-rogers-questions-by-commons-brexit-committee-politics-live?page=with:block-58ad7301e4b08ddc9a5e2762#block-58ad7301e4b08ddc9a5e2762

    “Rogers said that it would be “insane” for the UK just to leave the EU without a trade deal, because legal agreements would not be in place to allow the UK to trade with the EU.”

    As we’ve seen before the EU is totally committed to the rule of law, the letter of the EU treaties and laws, when it suits, but when it doesn’t suit a blind eye can be turned.

  41. Denis Cooper
    March 22, 2017

    Another off-topic titbit:

    “… according to a poll by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), most voters support the government’s Brexit priorities, with 88% of respondents wanting to maintain free trade with the EU after Brexit, and 68% wanting to see an end to free movement.”

  42. mike fowle
    March 22, 2017

    Tony Blair is reviled for the Iraq war – I think rightly. But there are other charges against him which are more insidious but ultimately more toxic.
    Spin. Before the 1997 election, Blair and Brown’s cronies browbeat the media into depicting the Tories as riddled with sleaze. That was untrue and unfair. After the election, Blair replaced the independent departmental press officers with propaganda units. As a result there is now far less trust in both the media and government.
    The House of Lords, although unelected, was highly respected as a revising chamber. Now it is stuffed with placemen and sycophants.
    Although education was declared a priority, exams were watered down, qualifications devalued and there are many at universities who will only have large debts to show for their time.
    When Tony Blair first announced: “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” it seemed that at last someone on the left got it – realism rather than excuses. Who could have foreseen the wrongheaded obsessions that would follow? We are all equal before the law was a fine principle of British justice. No longer. Now different rules apply for different groups and instead of being clear and consistent the definition of a “hate” crime depends on what someone might say it is. It is difficult to think of a more effective way to suppress free speech.
    The misguided policy of devolving more money and powers to Scotland and Wales has simply encouraged the hunger for full independence.

  43. forthurst
    March 22, 2017

    Sadly some of the faults of New Labour are shared by the Tory Party:

    Libya, Syria – check. Iraq, Afghanistan supported – check

    Accession, Single European Act, Maastricht – check

    Mass immigration from EU and outside – check

    So far there has been no financial crisis but it appears that a bank that was involved in selling
    dodgy mortgage based derivatives leading up to the last crash has been acquiring mortgages in default!!

    As to the Referendum, it is well known that that was a tactical miscalculation by CMD to neuter UKIP’s appeal and not an example of how the Tories are less globalist, more nationalistic and democratic than New Labour. Both parties are owned by globalists who believe in meddling in the ME and elsewhere putting British lives and world peace in jeopardy.

  44. acorn
    March 22, 2017

    Worth having a read of

    “Among the major economies, the USA and Japan were able to generate substantial additional wealth, while the United Kingdom recorded a significant decline as a result of currency depreciation.”

    Foreigners who have accumulated considerable quantities of UK (Pound denominated) assets, will not appreciate that. Alas, the Chelsea mansions and the car factories, are probably still worth hanging on to, for now; even if those foreigners have to write down their foreign currency assets in their books.

  45. acorn
    March 22, 2017

    Did you see that the Pound Sterling has dropped to 3.8% of world foreign currency reserves! No bugger wants to hold it. The US Dollar is at 62% and the Euro at 25%. Mind you, we are still paying foreigners circa £240 million a week in Gilt interest for no reason whatsoever! Compare that to the £200 million a week net payment to the EU.

  46. Ed Mahony
    March 22, 2017

    I am a Conservative but also see the danger of ‘extreme Conservatism.’ We are now seeing it with Donald Trump admin. The Wall Street Journal are now turning on President Trump as ‘Fake President’.

    Say no to any kind of political extremism, whether it be extreme right, extreme centre, extreme left or extreme liberal. And the key to be free of extremism is to see that one’s own kind of politics can be as extremist as any other kind.

    (Extremists always oppose doubt – they’re frightened of doubt – where as moderates accept a certain amount of doubt – not too much – as doubt leads to balanced reflection and objectivity). (And the same can be said about religion, nationalism, and so on).

  47. Iain Gill
    March 22, 2017

    hope you are ok in parliament today

    hope somebody is thinking of the police officers family

  48. Bastards
    March 22, 2017

    My spellings gone to pot. I am so enraged at the dead policeman.

  49. Peter D Gardner
    March 22, 2017

    Teflon Tony. Most apt. There is a distinction to be made between the centre ground and triangulation. Neither is well defined and to some extent the former is a euphemism for the latter.

    I saw Blair in action among bankers and private venture capitalists and he had an extraordinary knack of making them (I am neither) believe he understood them deeply and was on their side. I was told by people who loathed bankers and capitalism that Blair was very much on their side. It was an illusion, a conjuring trick. Blair never had the substance or genuine understanding to be on anyone’s side. He eschewed detail, not because he had an extraordinary insight into the big picture, but because it threatened to confront him with reality. He never got beyond regarding Blair’s interests being synonymous with the nation’s interests. He still has not.

    The centre ground was an excellent phrase to fool the public into thinking Blair represented the ideal consensus democratic debate in Parliament seeks and on it ultimately depends. Under Blair, as those who were called to his office for one-on-one chats may attest, that too was an illusion. As Blair said himself, what counts is what works. It worked for him and that is what he really meant, not works for the country, which is what he knew we would believe he meant.

  50. Lindsay McDougall
    March 23, 2017

    Then, as now, the biggest problem with the extreme centre is its inability to acknowledge the EU’s destination of choice. It is to evolve into a German dominated European Superstate. Compared with this monstrous lie of omission, the Vote Leave falsehood about the new monies available to the NHS pales into insignificance.

  51. JamesG
    March 23, 2017

    I think you give Blair/Brown too much credit. I doubt either ever had an original idea about anything. For the first 2 ‘extremisms’ they merely copied the USA and for the 3rd they just went along with the rest of Europe.

    Of course it’s another Blairite lie that nobody saw the crisis coming; both the hard left and the libertarians predicted it continually. Nouriel Roubini was called Dr Doom by the consensus of economists for predicting the crash – a lesson to never believe any consensus of so-called experts who prefer to eschew simple arithmetic. Since it was all predicated on house prices always rising it was clearly (to some of us) just another Charles Mackay type popular delusion. It’s also a big stretch to paint the Tory party as anything other than cheerleaders for City excess. On this very blog you claimed pre-crash that the ‘boom’ was due to previous Tory government policies. I said then you’d change your tune come the inevitable (to some of us) crash. Have a good look at your own blog posts then.

    Reply I did write about the coming crunch if the Bank of England followed the higher rates less liquidity policy it did pursue.

  52. Ken Moore
    March 25, 2017

    Well said JR…although it is a pity you do not recognise that New Labour was the first political party that took political correctness to it’s core. The same PC that has wrecked your own party. Why are you afraid to denounce or even discuss the PC?

    …..and then the Conservatives elected ‘the heir to Blair’ David Cameron and promoted a chancellor that looked up to the Blair creature as ‘the master’. God help us.
    The conservatives even rose to their feet and applauded Blair in parliament when we finally got shot of him.
    Cameron was so impressed with Blair he wanted his own Iraq war moment so invaded Libya and destabilised the area further,driving another wave of migration. Thousands more dead and anarchy..oops but it makes the Islington set feel better about themselves..

    Mrs May is another neo liberal, nannying bossy non conservative conservative caught in the net of PC..
    Foolish foolish politicians…

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