Tony Blair - The Second Coming
He's got the whole world in his hands.
He would, of course, have preferred the Mount of Olives, surrounded by the world’s media as he descended in the clouds with great glory. But instead it was Sedgefield, and the venue was the Trimbdon Labour Club (which he described as his political and spiritual home).
The presence was far too powerful for the stage: it was not possible to confine his shekinah aura in such a lowly tabernacle. But he condescended patiently as he became one of them, fully messiah yet fully man; mindful of his humble origins as he emptied himself of his Faith Foundation.
Cranmer was not alone in the messianic allusions to Tony Blair’s Second Coming. The Daily Telegraph talked of Labour’s Saviour, finding biblical allusions perfectly fitting: “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!”
And the Financial Times took the same theme.
But for all the hype and audience adulation, it was the same actor using the same rhetoric, with the same pregnant pauses and the same pleading gestures.
And this rhetoric remained evangelical: “Although the sea is still rough the storm has subsided….at the moment of peril the world acted, Britain acted.”
And he, who constructed his entire political career on Labour’s need to change, had the audacity to describe the Conservatives’ ‘time for change’ slogan as ‘the most vacuous in politics’.
You see, only Labour can change and remain authentic: when the Tories do, they are pretending, deceiving, luring in the unsuspecting electorate who will soon discover that they are the ‘same old Tories’ – nasty, spiteful, selfish and only out for themselves.
And so Labour’s Saviour deconstructed David Cameron’s Conservatives brick by brick: "On Europe, they've gone right when they should have gone centre; on law and order, they've gone liberal when actually they should have stuck with a traditional Conservative position; and on the economy, they seem to be buffeted this way and that, depending less on where they think the country should be, than on where they think public opinion might be."
Presumably contrasted with the sure-footedness of New Labour, who would never have dreamed of being ‘buffeted’ by something as ephemeral and capricious as public opinion.
And on his successor: “At the moment of peril the world acted. Britain acted. The decision to act required experience, judgment and boldness. It required leadership. Gordon Brown supplied it.''
His principal message is that the Conservatives are inconsistent and indecisive while Gordon Brown has ‘experience, judgement and boldness’.
It was pitched of necessity to the marginal voters in the ‘swing’ constituencies: Tony Blair has now become the Middle England Peace Envoy.
But the lies, misinformation and misrepresentation were unbecoming. He said: "On some issues like racial equality the Conservatives have left behind the prejudices of the past. I welcome that.”
And he might as well have added gender equality to his patronising ‘welcome’, for the inference was clear.
How many minority ethnic leaders have Labour had?
How many women?
The party that gave the United Kingdom its first Jewish prime minister and its first woman prime minister has never been ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’, because conservatism admits or tolerates neither.
Yet it suits his purpose to leave a whiff of irrational prejudice under the noses of those who are still taking a long, hard look at the Tories.
"Is there a core?” he asks. “Think of all the phrases you associate with their leadership and the phrase 'you know where you are with them' is about the last description you would think of. They seem like they haven’t made up their mind about where they stand; and so the British public finds it hard to make up its mind about where it stands. In uncertain times, there is a lot to be said for certain leadership."
Mr Blair never once mentioned David Cameron by name. But he didn’t need to.
When he talked of ‘vacuous’, ‘question marks’, ‘confusion’, ‘inconsistency’ and ‘inexperience’, there was no doubt his target was the present incarnation of conservatism.
By contrast, Labour is ‘consistent’, ‘certain’ and ‘coherent’, with a ‘strong commitment to public services’ and a ‘strong commitment to reform’.
And the evidence, he averred, may be seen in ‘reduced crime, higher standards in schools, and hospital waiting lists reduced from 18 months to 18 weeks’.
This was Blair the preacher delivering his Sedgefield sermon: the extravagant evangelical Roman Catholic convert condescending to exalt the Presbyterian puritan with great ecumenical generosity.
But he is an hypocritical charlatan; a perma-tanned fraud who desperately wants to be all things to all people in order that all may be duped.
David Cameron said he was ‘not at all worried’ by Mr Blair's intervention. Referring to the millions the former prime minister has made in public speaking since he left office, he said: 'It is nice to see him making a speech that no-one is paying for.’
The problem, of course, is that we all have.
And will continue to do so, for decades to come.
Tony Blair was right about one thing. This election is about ‘…who gets the future... who understands the way the world is changing…’
The future will not be ‘fair for all’ under another Labour government.
It is time for conservatism to articulate itself for the 21st century.
The choice is clear.