I once saw Tony Blair in the flesh at a sixth form confrence in 1997. Held within spitting distance of the Houses of Parliament the other attractions on the bill were an impressive Paddy Ashdown who provided a fiery, passionate performance. The incumbent government busy staving off the by then clearly apparent slide into the electoral wilderness was only able to spare the embattled David Mellor who was fodder to some of the more snide questions eminating from the audience 'What does Mr Mellor think about the country being run by a bunch of adulterors and perverts?' jeered one public-school sixth former. Mellor like a bear chained at a medieval fete lashed out at his tormentors by responding to another questioner that you can't account for the electorate as 'there is one in every village.' Contrastingly the questions aimed at Tony Blair were positively fawning 'why do you want to be prime-minister?' one person asked resulting in Tony's trademark grin to appear, shining from the podium like a beacon of hope to the assembled room; most of whom had known nothing but Tory rule.The atmosphere in the room was one of love. Blair was our Obama. Even after our dissapointment we still love Tony, he is the archytype of the post-modern politician, free-floating and unencumbered by ideology - at least to the T.V cameras, a charismatic prescence. The reason we don't take to Brown is because he is the opposite of Blair and the reason Cameron struggles is because he, the natural hier to Blair (who was in turn Thatcher's child) fails to step out of his shadow and become anything more than Blair-lite.
And so to yesterday. Cameron outlines his plans for re-energising Civic-Society setting out a vision of how we all have responsibilities to become involved with our communities whilst waxing lyrical about the voluntary sector. Was this Communitarian perspective not Blair's baby? Forgive me for not having the wool pulled over my eyes but, The Compacts New Labour made with the voluntary sector in the late 1990s, the New Deal for Communities, Futurebuilders, The Supporting People Programme, Individual budgets... haven't all of these New-Labour initiatives been born from the idea that the Voluntary, or 'third sector' should have a greater role in society? Yep, everyone still loves Tony.