Benito Blair?

December 10, 1999

Dennis Kavanagh says that a large staff devoted to media manipulation and focus groups "is normal in the White House (but) is an innovation in the UK" ("Bona fide or Bonaparte", THES, November 26).

Yet it is misleading to compare the effects of these innovations on the British political system directly with the United States: whereas the power of a US president is limited through the American political system's famous "checks and balances", a British prime minister with a large majority was something akin to an elected dictator even before the Blairite media innovations.

A better way to view such innovations is as part of a wider neo-corporatist agenda, wherein the new Labour government, as a party of the authoritarian centre, tries to become sufficiently powerful to force a new national synthesis on society. Other aspects are: blurring the line dividing party from state; the idea of a "third way" transcending left and right; and a Caesarian leader-cult. Maybe Mussolini or Mosley is a better template for Blair than Bonaparte.

M. Dibboll

London SE16

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