Over the years of Blair's leadership, he and his cabal have themselves regularly echoed the rhetoric of fascism, from "New Labour" (as in Neue Ordnung) to "the third way", a phrase much used by fascists in the interwar years. At one time, the Blairites liked to tell us that we lived in a Young Country. Quite apart from the fact that this is simply wrong in terms of history or demography, it recalled Giovinezza, or Youth, the marching song of Mussolini's Blackshirts. We were endlessly told about the People's Government, People's Wimbledon, and even the People's Princess. It is terrifying that anyone should have been quite so tone deaf to memories of a Third Reich with its People's Courts and People's Car (Volkswagen).
Maybe that could be excused as obtuse inadvertence but some things Blair has said cannot be so easily overlooked. One of his most memorable speeches was given to the Labour conference in 1999, when he attacked "the forces of conservatism", a phrase that sent some of his more simple-minded followers into raptures until they realised that those forces included everyone who stood in his way, from honourable Tories to decent radicals and principled socialists.
He used even more frightening words that day. When he said that New Labour was "the political wing of the British people", the implication was that other parties weren't needed at all. Had he really never thought of those leaders of the 1920s and 1930s who claimed that theirs was the one true voice of the people, above the corruption of party politics? In a recent essay in Prospect on politics and language, Richard Jenkyns, the Oxford classicist and literary critic, looked harder at that scary oration, which was, "in its demonising of opponents and its aspiration to make the Labour party the political arm of the British people, perhaps the most fascistic speech ever made by a mainstream British politician".