Blair’s buzzwords are losing their fizz and it’s time to take action

I have always been intrigued by Tony Blair’s Third Way of politics.

I have always been intrigued by Tony Blair’s Third Way of


It seemed to me that if he could sustain the idea - and it delivered the

goods - he would have a powerful political marketing tool. He could then

reasonably argue that he had broken out of the stale old Left/Right

conflict into the open country of reasonable men finding practical

answers to our problems, untrammelled by doctrine. This concept has

always had much appeal for those who find party political conflict

tiresome. ’Why can’t they all get together and work for the good of the

country?’ they cry.

Mr Blair certainly shocked the Left by the extent to which he apparently

ditched socialism from the word go. He has undoubtedly made it difficult

for Tory leader William Hague by, presentationally at least,

appropriating many Tory policies and not least their celebrated

financial prudence.

Chancellor Gordon described his Budget as prudent on at least 10

occasions in July.

I don’t regard Paddy Ashdown’s compact with Mr Blair on behalf of the

Liberal Democrats as evidence of a third way. Mr Ashdown will do

anything to secure proportional representation and a potentially

permanent seat in coalition government. But the fact is that Mr Blair’s

Third Way showed early promise.

Things began to go wrong when he called an eggheads’ conference in No 10

to tell him what the Third Way was - or might be. It then began to look

a bit of a gimmick. Since then Mr Blair has done three things which have

convinced me that it is just a bag of wind. He first capitulated to the

EU on new, expensive Social Chapter employment imposts. Then he

imprudently planned to spend an extra pounds 57 billion over three years

on health, education and welfare just before he halved his estimates of

economic growth. And now he has signed up with 10 other Left-governed

European countries to a good old fashioned socialist tax and spend


More importantly, we now learn that Mr Blair’s Cabinet are deriding the

whole Third Way idea as meaningless and open to ridicule and his

strategists are urging him to ditch it. A bold bit of political PR seems

to be about to bite the dust. And therein lies a lesson for all of us

PROs. It is one thing to think up super sales slogans and snazzy

soundbites. It is another to lend substance, depth, weight, form and

effect to the products and policies they promote.

As time and events take their toll, Mr Blair’s problem is that the Third

Way is not the only thing going west. Such Blair buzzwords as new,

young, cool and modern are giving way to control freak, Stalinist

(suppression of dissent), cronyism and economy with the truth. Somebody

needs to get a presentational grip in No 10.

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