Without consent there is no honourable case for remaining in the EU

March for Europe, July 2016 by mazz_5

A year ago I predicted that Britain was almost certain to trigger Article 50 and begin exiting the EU, after a narrow but clear victory for “leave” in the referendum.

So it has proved. In March prime minister Theresa May sent a letter to Brussels indicating that Britain will leave the bloc after 40 years’ membership. Legal commentary saw it as inevitable that once the article was invoked Britain would make for the exit, albeit with some resistance.

Now, who knows?

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Podcast Ep. 70: Tony ‘The Bear’ Blair Launches Brexit Reunion Tour

Right Dishonourable 70 Tony Blair

With Tony Blair urging the people to “rise up” against Brexit, Labour MP Diane Abbott complaining about bigoted online abuse, and PewDiePie accused of anti-Semitism, it’s been an uproarious week in politics.

Joining us to chew this over are the ladies of DAS Podcast, Ruby Pabani and Charlie Brades-Price, whose excellent periodical podcast sees feminism take on the likes of beauty, pregnancy and the Internet.

Image credit – Tony Blair by World Travel and Tourism Council

Podcast Ep. 57: Ukip Fisticuffs, Theresa May’s Great Turn and the Grovelling Donald

Nigel Farage Ukip punchup

With half of us fighting the fag end of a cold, we return to discuss some literal Ukip in-fighting, the political turning of Theresa May’s Tories, a threatened return of Tony Blair and this week’s American presidential debate.

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Tony Blair talks Jeremy Corbyn, George Bush’s humility and the failed standup career

Tony Blair, November 2012 by Chatham House

The shadow of Tony Blair is longer than that of any living British politician, the two-and-a-half term Labour prime minister now one of the most reviled and admired characters in Westminster and beyond.

But with much debate about him linked to his disputed status as a “war criminal”, it is fascinating to hear a different side of him in this interview with the comedian Matt Forde, a former Labour aide.

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Blair named ‘best’ Labour chief in 30yrs among loyalists and defectors as Corbyn victory nears

Tony Blair, October 2009 by Center for American Progress

Former prime minister and hated “war criminal” Tony Blair is considered the best Labour leader for the last 30 years among Labour voters who both stuck with or abandoned the party at the general election in May, despite the expected leadership victory of hard leftist Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday.

Voters who had picked Labour in 2010 told pollster Michael Ashcroft that Blair had done the best job of representing the whole country, attracting voters outside of Labour and offering competent leadership out of leaders since 1985, beating Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown, John Smith and Neil Kinnock.

Smith, who died of a heart attack in May 1994, was however seen as a better representative of Labour’s values.

Question: From what you remember or have heard, who would you say was the best leader of the Labour Party in the last 30 years?

Best Labour leader from party supporters, Michael Ashcroft in August 2015

Note: “All voters” included results from poll of general UK adult populace, including Labour and non-Labour voters.

Labour leader ratings from 1985 by Michael Ashcroft

Source: Project Red Dawn by Michael Ashcroft

The findings from online polls and focus groups taken throughout August and September suggest that the hunger for an heir to Blair in the Labour party remains, though the Labour leadership candidate with the best claim to that mantle, Liz Kendall, looks set to come last when the results are revealed this Saturday.

Commenting on Blair’s enduring popularity, Ashcroft said:

“First, [the respondents] regarded him as a strong, capable, convincing leader. Next, they understood what he was trying to do and, crucially, they believed that he understood them. As a result, they felt that the Labour Party under Blair’s leadership had an agenda which combined fairness and decency with respect for enterprise and hard work.”

Asked why Blair was so favoured a focus group attendee said: “The feeling with Blair was that you got the best of both worlds – still a capitalist society but fairer and more socially oriented.”

Another person argued that New Labour would “look after the middle class and business too”, whilst a further one pointed out that some businessmen “work hard and struggle” – a view captured in the so-called “Essex Man” of “aspirational” working class voters which Blair worked so hard to court.

One focus group member said that Blair did not seem like “some weird public schoolboy”, an ironic comment given that Blair boarded at Fettes College, a fee-paying school outside of Edinburgh that is among the most privileged in the country.

(Non-Brits are advised that the British refer to fee-paying schools as both private and public, whilst free schools are known as state schools. Which is helpful.)

Full details of Ashcroft’s research can be found on the pollster’s website.

Image Credit – Tony Blair, October 2009 by Center for American Progress