Blair’s interjections are unhelpful on all fronts but reveal a deep flaw in our discourse.
So Tony Blair has cranked out his typical quarterly piece on Brexit and British politics, if you’ve been following his writing at all closely you’re aware that he seems to have written the same article several times over albeit with marginally different phrasing. He makes his point about Brexit being bad for Britain and our economy(an area where we share common ground), he slags off Jeremy Corbyn for a bit and then calls for the centre ground to be reformed or something to that effect, it’s practically formulaic at this point.
His unhelpfulness is twofold, the first aspect being his anti Brexit stance. Personally, I find his wording a bit incoherent and wishy-washy in regards to “the will of the people changing” which doesn’t do much to further the reversal of Brexit intellectually. It’s always helpful to have prominent figures stump for a movement (especially when that individual is a former PM), however in the case of Blair his popularity has reduced to the point of corrosiveness within all walks of British society that his endorsement of a given movement might actually prove detrimental to that cause.
The second aspect I find unhelpful is his derision of Jeremy Corbyn. I think there might be some truth to his analysis that it was more the Conservatives having an awful campaign than Corbyn and friends playing an absolute blinder but that’s besides the point. A former PM deriding a current leader in such a total and public manner isn’t helping to further the cause however unpopular Blair might be. It’s a story that doesn’t need to happen and makes for bad headlines.
However I find that with Blair’s articles and generally anything he says or does publicly a deep sore in our political discourse is revealed. Rather than countering the points he makes with solid reasoned arguments (for which there are numerous in regards to this recent piece) commentators choose instead to shout “war criminal” into the void and leave it at that. Now this isn’t really too much of a problem in Facebook comment sections as you don’t exactly expect the height of political discourse to be found there. However, it is an issue when prominent pundits and writers use it as a catch-all response to all things Blair. Now I’m by no means a Blairite and think the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were huge mistakes, but I don’t think it bodes well in terms of intellectual integrity to use these events as a basis for discrediting arguments completely separate from these issues.
Maybe it’s just my own personal history of debating clubs making me overzealous about the quality of political discourse, but it does bother me that a section of the left are under the impression that historical events and a person’s character are valid grounds for discrediting arguments. Whereas in reality, arguments can only be truly countered with other arguments. There are many totally reasonable counters to Blair’s points, at this point it’s just intellectually lazy to keep banging on about Iraq when the matter at hand has nothing to do with it.
You’re better than that, make the argument people.