Now Mr Blair is lamenting the absence of a powerful centrist party and wants to “get his hands dirty” to confront “this Brexit thing” and avoid giving Theresa May a “blank cheque”. Since Mrs May will almost certainly end up with a smaller majority in Parliament than he had, a Labour landslide, it seems, is good for democracy, a Tory one bad.
There is a good deal of talk and letter-writing on the centre-Left and precious little in the way of action
This smug sense of entitlement on the soft Left is one of its most irritating characteristics. It was evinced yesterday in a letter to The Guardian bizarrely signed by two of that newspaper’s own columnists as well as the usual suspects like Billy Bragg. “With the progressive vote split, the danger of a Tory landslide and all it means for our country now looms darkly on June 8,” they wrote, urging Labour not to stand in seats where the Greens have a chance of winning.
There is a good deal of talk and letter-writing on the centre-Left and precious little in the way of action. The seeds of Mr Blair’s election triumph in 1997 were sown by the old SDP, whose leaders really did “get their hands dirty” by resigning from Labour and fighting by-elections. Roy Jenkins, Mr Blair’s great mentor, fought two contests in Warrington and Glasgow Hillhead in order to get back into the Commons to lead the new party.
Is Mr Blair ready to do the same? He said recently that he proposed to vote Labour on June 8 “because I always have”, even though he thinks Mr Corbyn is leading them over the cliff. If he is so convinced that the country is looking for a centre-Left saviour, why doesn’t he stand as an independent candidate in the election? Or is he only willing to get his hands dirty from a distance?