Yesterday I described Tony Blair as our party’s deadliest ever political opponent. Central to his political potency has been his ability to occupy all parts of the political spectrum and to attack from all directions. That ability was on full display yesterday in his attack on David Cameron:
"The first rule of politics: there are no rules. You make your own luck. There’s no rule that says the Tories have got to come back. David Cameron’s Tories? My advice: get after them. His foreign policy. Pander to anti-Americanism by stepping back from America. Pander to the Eurosceptics through isolation in Europe. Sacrificing British influence for Party expediency is not a policy worthy of a Prime Minister. His immigration policy. Says he’ll sort out illegal immigration, but opposes Identity Cards, the one thing essential to do it. His energy policy. Nuclear power "only as a last resort". It’s not a multiple choice quiz question, Mr Cameron. We need to decide now otherwise in 10 years time we will be importing expensive fossil fuels and Britain’s economy will suffer. He wants tax cuts and more spending, with the same money. He wants a Bill of Rights for Britain drafted by a Committee of Lawyers. Have you ever tried drafting anything with a Committee of Lawyers? And his policy for the old lady terrorised by the young thug is that she should put her arm round him and give him a nice, big hug. Built to last? They haven’t even laid the foundation stone. If we can’t take this lot apart in the next few years we shouldn’t be in the business of politics at all."
Forget for the moment Mr Blair’s inability to deliver, as the New Statesman’s Martin Bright said on last night’s Newsnight, most of these attacks are from what were traditionally seen as the territory of the right. Mr Blair is criticising Mr Cameron for anti-Americanism, for being soft on crime and immigration, for failing to back nuclear power and for passing policy-making to a committee for lawyers. The red-cornered BBC appears to be institutionally incapable of questioning David Cameron from the right. Tony Blair has given the Corporation a text book example of how to do so.
BACK NOT FORWARD: By way of a footnote it is interesting that Bill Clinton will be addressing Labour’s conference today. It’s another sign of Labour’s backward looking stance. Labour have yesteryear’s American President as their main international guest. The Tories have John McCain – perhaps the next occupant of the White House. As David Cameron said to Tony Blair during their first PMQs: You were the future once.