"Blair was ultimately able to articulate his vision in such lucid terms not because he was a vastly superior politician — though he was — but because it gave real expression to the zeitgeist of the late 1990s. In 1997, the neoliberal consensus (whatever else you might say about it) was still relatively new and untested in its post-Thatcherite incarnation, and there remained plenty for the apparatchiks of New Labour to do when it came to sweeping away the old order. If the neoliberal center today seems unable to communicate any substantive vision beyond the inane language of focus groups, a major reason is that the project that originally animated it has, by and large, already succeeded.
Blair’s revolution has come and gone, and with it a world where anything about its core tenets could be recognized as dynamic or modern. With neoliberalism now firmly embedded as the lingua franca of British politics, there remains little for its present-day adherents on the center right and center left to do beyond try to put lipstick on the proverbial pig of an order to which they have already surrendered. (The only other course available is to fall back on old slogans, reflexes, and habits — a fact that explains why the Starmer leadership has found its few moments of genuine energy in fighting or smearing the Left.) To this end, they debate empty catchphrases and microscopic differences of policy, trading in vague narratives about how British capitalism might be rebranded to seem ever so slightly less cruel."
After last week’s calamitous election for the Labour Party, party leader Keir Starmer was asked to explain his “vision” for Britain. His humiliating inability to answer the question was a window into the hollowness of Britain’s center.