Douglas Carswell

25 NOV 2016

Blairism is bust - and even Blair can't save it

Nicolas Sarkozy has abandoned his hopes of a comeback, and given up on politics for good. So, it seems, has Hillary Clinton. Shame Tony Blair didn't get the memo.

By no popular acclaim, Tony Blair has decided to return to British politics, aiming to overturn the result of the referendum. It's a sign of how detached from reality he has become that he seriously believes he could succeed.

In the first general election I fought as a candidate, back in 2001, I stood against Tony Blair in Sedgefield. There's no doubt that he was an impressive campaigner. I saw that first-hand.

But times have changed. Just as his landslide victory in 1997 marked a popular rejection of almost twenty years of Tory government, so Brexit is a public revolt against two decades of Blairism.

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were blasé about European integration. With the Lisbon Treaty, Brown railroaded through the EU Constitution Blair had signed – the constitution which had been expressly rejected in referenda in Holland and France – without ever asking for the people's consent.

Blair didn't just ignore public concerns about immigration. He made immigration a taboo subject for debate. Perhaps he genuinely thought there was a consensus behind multiculturalism. But all he actually achieved was to stoke public resentment.

He might have left Number 10 in 2007, but Tony Blair effectively defined government for the next nine years. David Cameron proudly called himself the heir to Blair – and so he proved to be. On European integration, as on so much else, he delivered continuity.

But now the British people have rejected that elite consensus. Blairism is over. Thankfully, not even the return of the man himself can take us back to 1997.

It is revealing, though, that he thinks he can.

Though some ex-holders of the office seem to forget it, prime ministers aren't monarchs. They don't have a God-given right to rule forever. The people are their boss, not the other way round.

When I lost to Tony Blair in 2001, I accepted the result. Not because I thought his agenda was better than mine. But because I recognised it was for the electorate to choose.

Now the voters have chosen again. Brexit is going to happen, whether establishment grandees like it or not. They might as well get used to it.

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