Gaitskell and Blair
I admire Hugh Gaitskell as much as the next Eurosceptic social democrat, but must protest at Donald Macintyre’s use of him to traduce Tony Blair in today’s Independent.
Don seems to think that Blair went out of his way* to omit reference to Gaitskell in his memoir, and that this omission is “telling”. What it tells is not clear, except that Blair has a “year zero” view of Labour Party history, and that Gaitskell was, in some people’s rose-tinted rear-view mirror, “left-wing by modern standards”.
I suspect that the reason Gaitskell does not appear in the index of A Journey is sadder and less interesting. It is simply that, by dying inconveniently early, Gaitskell ensured that he does not matter much in British or even Labour history.
As someone privileged to learn about political journalism at Don’s knee, though, I was surprised that he should give the time of day to the punk Compass view of history, that “the Thatcher-Blair years” were one long period of neo-liberal and neocon error, and that the pursuit of social and economic equality was “un-Blairite”.
*Don was teased, somewhat unfairly, in 1996 for his fondness for the phrase “went out of his way”.Tagged in: hugh gaitskell, labour history, tony blair
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