The veteran pols on either
side of the vituperative,
vertiginous Brexit debate spar.
Nigel Farage, the Brexit ringleader, has blamed Blair, in part, for throwing open the borders to “rub our noses in diversity.”
.. Did Blair ever think he would see a time when the royal family would keep calm and carry on as the queen’s grandson moved toward marrying an American TV actress who is divorced and half black?
.. Blair has plunged back into the fray as a leading advocate for overturning Brexit.
.. “The idea that the handful of right-wing media proprietors here are some ordinary Joes from the street, I mean, it’s ridiculous. There are elites on both sides.”
.. I’ve always thought Blair was one of a handful of people who could have stopped the Iraq war, and I was fierce in my criticisms of him.
.. Even though he stiffened, I asked why he helped W. switch 9/11 villains from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein.
“What I would say is that our anxiety, particularly straight after 9/11, was that you would end up in a situation where these unstable dictatorships, you know, which combined with terrorism to cause mass destruction,” he said. “One of the things I’ve learned about this issue is that there’s no point in me trying to relitigate it with people.”
.. Blair knows Jared Kushner — he has not met Trump — so I asked what he thought of the son-in-law’s epic task of making Middle East peace.
“The fact that someone’s not got a long institutional experience of these issues isn’t necessarily a disadvantage,” Blair said.
.. But Blair said he has struggled to understand the forces that led to Brexit and Donald Trump: “Making sense of it is very hard. I feel like a student of politics again.” Odd, he added, since “I spent most of my political life in a state of reasonable certainty.”
.. The central question, he said, is whether politicians can change the status quo enough to steer people through this period when they feel they’ve lost control.
“I don’t think you can adopt a politics that essentially says that those grievances are unjustified or irrelevant,” he explained, “or say, ‘I’m just going to focus on something else because that’s really more important than your grievance.’”
He could have been describing What Happened with Hillary’s campaign, when she and President Barack Obama sniffed at the rise of Trump and Bernie Sanders
The anger that buoyed Trump, he said, “is not unjustified. You can’t sit there and essentially blame the people.”
That approach can lead to the rise of strongmen, or what he called “the Putinist model.” “The strongman form of government says, ‘I’m just going to bust through the systems not delivering for you and I’m going to deliver,’” he said. “It’s got an appeal.” He concluded: “I think the threat to what I would call traditional democracy is bigger than we think.”
.. He now believes that Brexit can never be undone “unless we have an immigration policy that makes sense of the fact that people do worry about pressure on services and wages that can come from large accumulations of migrant labor and frankly, anxieties people have about whether there’s a cultural divide from migrants, particularly if they come from a majority of Muslim countries.
.. The Daily Express lead editorial, headlined “Tony Blair Is the Reason That We Are Leaving the EU,”
.. But even those who like Trump, he said, wonder “why he’s picking a battle on so many fronts simultaneously” — especially with his own party. You know you’re in trouble when Nigel Farage thinks you’re picking too many battles.
.. “The hard left has made my life a complete misery over the last four or five years,” Farage said. “I’ve had to live with 24/7 security. I’ve had threats, physical assaults against me, my family. And this is all from people who are in organizations that profess themselves to be about love and hope and optimism, all right?”