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Former British PM Tony Blair writes open letter to Macron in Le Monde

© Paul Faith, AFP | Britian's former Prime Minsiter Tony Blair (L) attends the European People's Party (EPP) group bureau meeting in Wicklow, eastern Ireland on May 12, 2017.

Text by Monique EL-FAIZY

Latest update : 2017-05-12

Former British prime minister Tony Blair has penned a letter to President-elect Emmanuel Macron delineating the lessons he learned from his so-called Third Way program in the UK and outlining what he believes is the best path forward.

That Blair would see a bit of himself in the young French soon-to-be leader is understandable; many have painted Macron as the heir to the Blairite centrist politics that dominated the late 1990s and early 2000s in Britain. Whether Macron will welcome the advice is another question entirely. After all, despite presiding over a period of economic prosperity, Blair is one of the most deeply disliked British politicians in recent memory.

And while the circumstances that surrounded Blair’s ascension to the office of prime minister and Macron’s to president differ significantly, both domestically and globally, Blair, who has been an outspoken supporter of Macron, clearly felt he could help the young French leader avoid some of the pitfalls that befell him.

In his letter, Blair enumerated five key lessons he learned during his tenure:

First, he warned, “the most important thing is never to lose the strength of the basic appeal. People in France voted for something new and different, and for change which was not defined by past politics.” People support change in general, he expanded, but often disagree with the particulars.

Secondly, he cautioned, when undertaking reforms, it’s important to begin with those that will have the most impact. “The first thing is to analyse what will really move the needle,” Blair wrote. “Do the things which really matter was what I learnt. Make sure the policy will truly deliver the result.”

Third, one must be mindful that the solutions proposed by mainstream politics are often disconnected from the challenges they are meant to address. “The new generation of technology alone -- notably the revolutions of AI and Big Data -- will transform once again the way we work, live and think… Many of the best ideas are not to be found in politics but outside of it. There is a global marketplace in ideas. Smart governments today utilise that thinking.”

Finally, Blair pointed out the need for reform in Europe. “A programme of reform set within the context of a programme for the reform of Europe is a far more attractive proposition.”

Fourth, Macron must find ways to get around the inherent immovability of bureaucracy in order to implement his ideas. “Bureaucracy is brilliant at managing the status quo; it is usually hopeless at changing it. In the end I discovered the vital necessity of prioritisation and dedicated structures within government focused exclusively on delivery, with teams specifically constructed for the sole purpose of getting things done.”

Blair clearly feels a lot is riding on the Macron presidency. “All of us, who believe in progress through making globalisation work for the broad mass of the people, want him, need him, to succeed.”

Date created : 2017-05-12

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