Tony Blair

Tony Blair’s office release a statement today saying he would work towards creating a “new platform” to challenge the rise of extremism in the west.

In a long statement, Blair says he is creating a new “platform” but says its not a think-tank.

Its not yet clear what he wants to do, but he knows what he is against.

This new populism may differ in some respects between left and right – the left anti-business, the right anti-immigrant – but in others what is remarkable is the convergence between them, especially around isolationism and protectionism, in what is an essentially closed-minded approach to globalisation and its benefits and to international engagement.

So what’s the plan?

Err, that is less than clear.

This is the creation of a platform designed to build a new policy agenda for the centre ground together with the networks which link people up, and allow a reasonable and evidence based discussion of the future which avoids the plague of social media-led exchanges of abuse.

This platform will have a policy unit which will draw on the best ideas and practical solutions, building partnerships with other organisations, in the public policy and private spheres, so that those in the frontline of politics have a bigger and better policy agenda to reflect upon; and a networking capability to join like-minded people up.

So… a sort of a network with a policy unit?

Sounds a bit like… err… a think-tank.

But there’s a few things Blair makes clear.

He is wrapping up the business side of things. No more big ‘consultation’ deals with Middle East dictators for big wads of cash.

All that money – approximately £8 million – will now be ploughed into this project.

Secondly, he confirms isn’t coming back to the front line of politics, saying this is “not possible”.

For those alarmed by the forces unleashed by Brexit and Trump, this may not be such bad news.

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