Blair: ‘Labour needs to rethink public technology’

Former prime minister Tony Blair said today that the Labour Party must put government technology reforms at the heart of its policy renewal.

Blair delivered a speech warning the party retreating to the left of politics by electing MP Jeremy Corbyn as its new leader.

He added that the party is in danger of confusing its values with their application in a changing world.

“We [need to] get thinking – about policy, real policy not one-liners which make a point (useful though those can be in a campaign).

“Technology and its implications for everything from the NHS through to government itself, is the single most important dimension.

“But across the board, from infrastructure to housing to tax reform to welfare, we should be thinking through new solutions framed against how people live and work now.”

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Blair said that current values of the age – merit trumping background, equal treatment across gender and race and belief in the NHS and the notion of the welfare state – have been fashioned by social democracy.

He said: “What should give the Labour party enormous hope and pride is that we have helped achieve all this.

“However, the large millstone is that perennially, at times congenitally, we confuse values with the manner of their application in a changing world.

“We then misunderstand the difference between radical leftism, which is often in fact quite reactionary, and radical social democracy, which is all about ensuring that the values are put to work in the most effective way not for the world of yesterday but for today and the future.”

He said that technology is a revolution with “vast consequences for every sphere – business, public services, lifestyle and government”.

“Globalisation is opening the world up, with attendant opportunities and of course risks.

“Individuals – partly through these changes – live quite differently, with infinitely more choice over their own life.

“Businesses grow and decline with bewildering speed, making a thriving entrepreneurial sector a necessity.

“Development of human capital becomes vital for the future economy. And the fallout from all this creates new problems – like social care for increased numbers of elderly – and new victims like those left behind or disadvantaged by the changes whirling round them.”

“This change requires new thinking. And 2015 is not 2007 or 1997. So yes, move on. But don’t move back!”

Colin Marrs

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